Reconstruction of Birka B4 pattern

Silver-brocaded band found in grave Bj 569 (grave of a child, no precise dating).

A. Geijer, Birka III, p. 85:

“B4 GRAB 569. Taf. 17: 3. Schmales Brettchenband. In der Musterpartie 11 (?) Br. Auf der Oberseite sind nur einzelne Stiche zu sehen, auf der Unterseite sind die Fäden dicht und gleichmässig zusammen-gedrückt, wechselnde Schnurrichtung. Ausserhalb der noch erhaltenen Randschnur bildet der Silberschuss eine Reihe von Ösen, die früher eine jetzt fehlende Schnur auf jeder Seite bedeckte. Breite 6 1/2 mm. Länge
7 +2+2 cm.”

Google translate:

“Narrow tablet tape. In the sample section 11 (?) boards. On the upper side only single stitches can be seen, on the lower side the threads are tightly and evenly pressed together, alternating line direction. Outside of the still preserved edge cord, the silver weft forms a series of eyelets that used to cover a now missing cord on each side. Width 6 1/2 mm. Length 7 + 2 + 2 cm.”

Comparison of the photographs from and Birka III, Taf. 17:3:


The band is clearly very damaged. The “>>” and “<<” parts are rather clear, but the “S” shapes are more complicated. There are 3 instances of the “S” shape on the preserved part of the band. I tried to decipher it by looking closely firstly at the best preserved fragment, and than comparing it with the 2nd best (the one on the right).

I could not draw any clear conclusions. I tried to decipher the general shape and looked for similar patterns in other bands, but I didn’t find any. I know that some of the tie-downs may have fallen apart. I think that the first “S” shape looks like a swan, but this is just my 21stC-influenced impression.

Nevertheless, I tried to make something out of this band, to create a possible pattern.

Funny thing, if you try to make the ^ parts out of 9 tie-downs (leaving just one “empty” between the upper and lower (or left and right) triangle, the tie-downs come so close on the band it looks like an X gone wrong:


13 tablets, threaded ZZZZZZZSZSZSZ (or the opposite, depending on the direction you like to turn your tablets. On the photo from Historiska Museet there is a back side visible, and Geijer wrote the tablets were threaded alternating. The photo shows at least 6 tablets on one side threaded alternating – but which side? – the rest looks like they are threaded the same way, that’s an assumption based only on the photo)

I used 60/2 silk from Handweaver’s Studio

0.2 mm silver wire from Proma

50 g weights (this is unnecessary information, if you’re using a horizontal period-correct loom)

These thread dimensions allow the 6,5 mm width, with weft density of about 17-18 passes per 1 cm.

If you would like to order a band like this one, please visit my Etsy shop online.