I don’t live in the past—I only visit—and so can you!



Look at yourself in a mirror and fill out this checklist. Give yourself a checkmark for everything you see.


If you have one to 48 points, you are a farb.

Note that if a piece of farb is concealed from the public and only brought out during an emergency, that is acceptable. We could have added in things such as lamellar armor, ancient Roman jewelry, Gotlandic box brooch and the like, but we have evidence that some were used by the Norse but that they were not available in vast quantities, so their farbiness is dependent on how many you have!


Updating and correcting “Medieval Movies: Films of the Viking Era,” to include films released since the last edition. And discovered there were many other films as well…

I’ll be posting comments on some of the ones not covered before for the next month!

Ragnarok (2018)

The description makes it sound as if this was a science-fiction end o the world film. It is instead a film set in the world of Norse fantasy, using the horse we saw in the opening credit of “Deadwood.” Costuming is not accurate for the most part, including tall swashbuckler boots, and they use out of period armor. The scenery is quite attractive and not cluttered with modern cinematic interpretation of stone castles, and the music was and appropriately dirgelike. Very stylish and effective and proves you do not have to have expensive CGI. Incredibly bloody, but what more do you want for the end of the world? At least they have beautiful fur cloaks!

Ragnarok (2013)

aka Gåten Ragnarok

An amusing film about the end of the world, as they all are. The historical segments are dark, which seem to help disguise any inaccuracies. At least it has nice fury cloaks! Nice modern shots in the Oslo Vikingship Museum, and it has some very nice incidental shots of period objects, so actually there is no reason not to make certain items in the medieval sections, Science-fiction fans care about nothing more than the science fiction, which is based on tropes found in the literature before but which is very well done here, but anyone interested in the medieval Norse culture will not care that this is not Star Wars! At least the CGI might be good enough for them. It captures the obsession perfectly! The main character excitedly saying to his son, “Here s where Vikings walked a thousand years ago/; sums it all up so well! Not much to research, but it tells you so much about the process and about your obsession. With a few melodramatic thrills and comments on Nighthawkers along the way! And shows how resourceful and courageous archaeologists are!

Thor (1962)

Long considered lost, though there are rumors of pirated copies. The clip on a Youtube review of the 1990 “Captain America” is actually from the Hulk television show. If anyone discovers a copy, please let me know!

Almighty Thor (2011)

aka El todopoderoso Thor aka Thor – Der Allmächtige

Bad costuming, bad rip-off of a Marvel film, bad CGI…but at least you can see Thor use an uzi!

Ceremony of Innocence, The (1970)

Filmed for an NET television show. Simple costuming. Much seems accurate, though the use of broad-brimmed hats is more from later times, belts are much wider than they actually were, shoes are welted and cloaks, of course, are fur. And there is a dialog about how no man had ever sailed west and returned, when Iceland had been settled more than two centuries before, Greenland had been encountered close to a century before (and offered tusks, furs and more for trade) and Vinland was known well by this time. This was apparently a nod at Washington Irving’s invented ignorance. Most of the scenes are close-up, since the makers’ focus is on the brilliant, biting dialog—and a plot that deals with aspects of British history that are usually ignored—and not on how the film is being recorded. Yet the props are very satisfying, and the few “open” shots are very satisfying. An anonymous reviewer notes, “No other play better reflects the moral ambiguity of war than Ribman’s “Ceremony of Innocence.” The drama of why we fight and why we cannot stop fighting is painfully depicted.” Simple and effective, with no explosive special effects and no brutal violence but brilliant composition and lighting. Probably done fairly inexpensively, which indicates you do not need to heap money on a film project to make it be recommended by the any but the witless among us! Currently at the Library of Congress but unavailable for streaming; I had to find a DVD that had been withdrawn from a library. However you can obtain it, jump to it if you can!

Editorial Note

This has been the last of the new films. For them and much more, I will be downloading the book to Academia very soon and will tell folks where to see it!


Updating and correcting “Medieval Movies: Films of the Viking Era,” to include films released since the last edition. And discovered there were many other films as well…

I’ll be posting comments on some of the ones not covered before for the next month!

Olav (2021) (tv series)

A strange, delightful and effective mixture of modern and medieval, where Kristofer Hivju in modern day searches for him in the twenty-first century while there are segments from the eleventh. A portrayal and search for one of the greatest Norwegian heroes and allegedly Hijvu’s great hero. Costuming is mostly accurate, though the cloaks tend to be fur. The CGI is simple but more effective than many other productions. But so well detailing the man and the search that you do not really notice any errors. Combat scenes show that you can do very effective combat scenes without being too gristly or blood. The series is in three parts, and each part deals with a different part of Olaf’s life and the happenings after his death: Olaf’s life as a Viking, as a king and as a saint. I started watching just before midnight and had to finish the three-hour production!

Killian’s Chronicle: The Magic Stone (1995)

A fascinating and well-done story of the interaction between Irishman and skraeling, as well as heathen versus Christian The film-makers make the most of what the budget allows it is very satisfying. The magic stone is a sunstone, and there are many other details are part of little-known aspects of the culture. Costumes are more than adequate for the most part, and while there are waistcotes, there re no furry cloaks. The skraeling do call the Norse “bear people,” which might be a sly reference to bearsarks. Even the already dodgy character going combat mad after being treated with mushrooms after a being stuck by the porcupine he was tormenting makes a lot of sense but is never directly alluded to. Unfortunately, chess is frequently played though this was a time when the game had not been introduced to Europe. Why couldn’t it have been Fidchell?

Sword of Vengeance (2015)

aka Schwert der Rache aka La Spada Della Vendetta

Bad two-sword combat, plenty of bloody gore and really neat and cool explosions! Lots of running in bad costume and worse armor. Nice horns on their helmets!

Beowulf: Return to the Shieldlands (2016) (TV Mini Series)

aka Beowulf

Bad armor, terrible costumes, bad weapons, incredibly bad CGI but enough blood and gore to keep the folks who love this stuff happy. Even the scenery is somewhat banal and sterile. Even the CGI creation of knotwork is pretty uninspiring compared to its primitive antecedents from Magnus Magnusson’s “Vikng” series from years ago. There are at least no stone keeps, but the wooden structures they present are no less inaccurate, though in a different way. The sets look as if they done by Frazetta on a really bad day. Lots of furry cloaks and black garments and armor, which is the best way they seem to think to prove they are being accurate. Incredibly pretentious as it screams out of be a comedy. Great furry cloaks though. Do not watch this in hopes of getting ideas for an accurate reenactment.


Updating and correcting “Medieval Movies: Films of the Viking Era,” to include films released since the last edition. And discovered there were many other films as well…

I’ll be posting comments on some of the ones not covered before for the next month!

Trees Grow on the Stones Too (1985)

Aka Flukt aka I Na Kamnyakh Rastut Derevya aka Dragens Fange

Rather bland photography and choreography, without much crispness, innovation nor artistic innovation. Scenes are rather static and old fashioned, and even the action is rather dull, with Vikings prancing delicately around. The combat scenes are rather staged and amateur, as if they were choreographed by a high-school drama teacher. And let’s not talk about over-acting. Which is too bad since the costumes are decent (though with the hoods of a later era, puttees that are indescribable, too many visible bags and belts that are much too wide), the props are accurate and I saw no furry cloaks or fur-lined caps for some time into the film. The word parts of this film is far better than the best parts of some later films, though, though it is not as enjoyable as some reviewers have said. It started out rather fine and goes downhill through much of the film. If I was able to get a translation, I might not be so critical, but I had to focus on what I saw. For example, they used plenty of buttons!

Stone Forest, The (1965)

aka Il Tesoro Della Foresta Pietrificata aka Treasure of the Petrified Forest

Viciously bad acting, typical Italian Viking costume and unusually sterile photography. It mentions Vikings by name and is a clever mash-up where the opera by Wagner is crossed with a Humphrey Bogart film! Not recommended for researching costume, though it is at least not a poor retread of Fritz Lang. The only reason to research thi is just to see how you should write a really really bad film. But the dry ice budget was probably a lot more than the costume!

El Príncipe Encadenado (1960)

aka King of the Vikings

A Spanish film adapted from a seventeenth-century play that presented Spanish culture as the best of all time but attempts to meld generic Viking culture with a the play. Costumes and armor is ludicrous and bright, possibly rejected by Italian Viking films, and seem more similar to those used in films of classical times than whatever time this is presending to be. Weapons are similar to Spanish or Muslim versions, and the scenerey is filled with castles and stone buildings, not even giving a token nod to period woodn buildings. It is amusing that, after a while, you recognize the scenery used in Spanish films as easily as that used by John Ford in Monument Valley. There are, of course, no drakkars, not even row boats with dragon prows.

Sweaty Beards (2010)

aka Die verrückten Wikinger—Die vergessene Wikinger-Legende

A Swedish comedy that is actually funny, inspired by Monty Python. Costumes are relatively accurate, unless the inaccurate costumes are meant to be amusing. Props are more accurate than they need to be, and the actions are often broad and burlesque.


Updating and correcting “Medieval Movies: Films of the Viking Era,” to include films released since the last edition. And discovered there were many other films as well…

I’ll be posting comments on some of the ones not covered before for the next month!

The Huntress: Rune of the Dead (2019)

A quiet film that is more Asatru than Christian using runes as developed in modern paganism, that uses subtle dark fantasy. A well-crafted film that is not the typical clash-boom Viking film. The violence slowly rises and becomes overwhelming but rapid. And in an amusing piece, a child plays with a top that is obviously a spindle whorl! Costume is good if not perfect, and we must deal with older women with long unbound hair, and a daughter wearing tunic and trews. Very well done, extremely effective and highly recommended!

Pagan Warrior (2019)

aka Vikings Vs Krampus aka Das Krampus Massaker 2

We are placed willingly into a Viking film that is so obviously bad that there is no way to recommend this as an historical film, but have every right to recommend it as a comedy. How else can you appreciate a film that is unable to delineate between 812 and 1812 and that includes twenty-first century scenes as well? Another deeply serious horror film that does not seem to recognize—or at least hopes you do not see—how incredibly stupid it is. Of perhaps, the is its selling point. In any event, just enjoy it and enjoy the sight of the Vikings and Krampus. Poorly acted, poorly costumed, poorly environed, but damn is it funny! Grab a mead and settle back! And if this is an example of a modern horror film, I’m not surprised that I haven’t seen a horror film since “White Zombie!” The ITV drug, by the way, budget must be monumental!

Viking: The Berserkers (2014)

aka Viking Berserkers aka Vikings—L’âme des Guerriers

A much better than it could have been, without bing a quality effort. Poor effects, but you can see what they are striving for, and they are so earnest that you feel sorry that they cannot get there. Homes seem temporary and ramshackle, though not intended in the film to be temporary. And the jail cage is incredibly flimsy. Good scenery, including forests and waterfalls, and a nice cart that seems related to the Oseberg waggon but consdierably simpler. The main sword is two-handed, but their mamnufacture of bows and arrows, while rather crude and ineffectual, sow that they checked with the historical method. Fairly accurate costuming, except for the fur cloaks and short sleeves, with hair shaved as if they were Normans a couple centuries later. The main female character wears trousers and armor, with no head coverings since this is a twenty-first century film. The berserks, the villains of the piece, were were fairly stereotypical villains in period works, and the berserks in this film are druggies and quite suitable, though many viewers probably think they were actual. They affect odd makeup white facs with dark circles around the fire. Not period but effective at being weird. They call the time the Dark Ages and seem to want to make everything as dark and subdued, so that even the daytime scenes are rather flat and dark, and some of the action is had to discern properly. What you can see is pretty suspenseful and well-done action if nothing new or innovative.

Arnljot (1927)

A lost film; if a copy is available or discovered, please let me know! Probably based on Wilhelm Peterson-Berger’s opera from 1910.


Updating and correcting “Medieval Movies: Films of the Viking Era,” to include films released since the last edition. And discovered there were many other films as well…

I’ll be posting comments on some of the ones not covered before for the next month!

Erik, the Viking (1965)

aka Erik il Vichingo aka Vengeance of the Vikings

Another Italian Spaghetti Northern film. Filled with cheerfully anachronistic costume, props and storylines with a very tenuous connection to historical facts. There is little difference between this and other Italian Viking films, and if you re able to like one–and can forgive the errors and the over-acting, this will be another film you will love. I just think that it is funny that they reach Vinland without even mentioning Greenland or Iceland, though I love the cactus and tropical plants that grows in Vinland! And it is ironic that the clothing of the Inuit make that of the Vikings look super-thenty, and the clothing of the seem to come from a variety of eras. But the film is nicely written and the action is well choreographed. Grab a mead, pull on your furry vest and concentrate on details only if you are good at forgetting them.

Viking Legacy (2016)

aka Viking: Os Pergaminhos sagrados aka Viking: La fureur des Dieux aka Die Northmen-Saga!

I never heard anything good about this film except a reviewer who said the violence was okay. So I watched the film with trepedition. I should have paid more heed to the reviews, especially the IMDB reviewer who wrote, “you get the feeling that someone decided to make a movie on a Sunday and then shot the movie on Monday and finished it by Tuesday”. I could not say it better, though he should have added that they were probably high-school sophomores who stole daddys’ credit cards. Preposterous plot, hideous acted, dreadful costume, totally inappropriate props, forgettable scenery and laughable combat choreography. And the hiding ability of the chased is like holding a branch in front of you and hoping the bully playing hide and seek will avoid you. And I kept hoping the Vikings would just rip out Orlaith’s tongue! Not bad enough to be good, though some things—such as the aluminum canteen and the paperback Bible—come close! And if you re doing your serious research into Norse culture, you can forget it right now!

Viking War, The (2019)

aka Berserker: Death Fields

I think it is adorable that we have a PC film of three Saxons, including a female swordsman, fleeing berserkers who obviously invaded a Renn Fair! Love the wonderful castle and the wildly out of period costuming. And that castle is the bees knees! Great review…from one of the actors…

Redbad (2018)

aka The Rise of the Viking

Frisia has been relegated to low importance in spite of their many importance contrbutions, appearing pnly as villains in “The War Lord.” Having said that, I must admit that there is little further worth in the film if you are looking for an accurate historical film. Though the cinematography is Brilliant, and some of the architecture is well done, though there are also stone castles with metal hand rails, the film centers around the King (or Duke) Redbad who is presented as a freedom fighter but who was instead a tyrant to his peoplw. The film itsel hinges on the tensions between the heathen and the Christian faiths, though not too well. For example,I never knew that baptism involved nerly drowning the heathen. The costuming is only maginally accurate, and mediocre, including shoes ith obviously modern with heels. The armor itself is laughably poor, and weapons are for the most part out of period. The architecture itself is mainly from another time altogether. Howr, tThe action is certainly bloody and violent, and isn’tht why peope watch films like this? Decent Viking drakkrs nearly a hundred years before their first real appearance, and siege engines used for defense thatare rather flimsy as they cast firey bags againstthe ships. The ships keep a healthy distance from the shoe as the warriors jump off to wade awkwardly onto the land to fight, and we see a prescient use of cavalry. And of course we have female warriors and double-bitted axes, while the shield walls reminded me of the Roman turtle formation, and the shield acrobatics is almost as good as displayng cards at college football games. There is little emotional engagement, and the film seems more concerned in presentig Frisian nationalism and bloody violence. Unless you are a die-hard Frisian, just ignorare the film! Or rather, films. This film was edited in 2019 into a miniseries released on Dutch television, with some extra footage as “The Legend of Redbad.”


Updating and correcting “Medieval Movies: Films of the Viking Era,” to include films released since the last edition. And discovered there were many other films as well…

I’ll be posting comments on some of the ones not covered before for the next month!

Vikings: The Real Legend of Thor (2013)

aka Vikingdom

With the popularity of the Marvel Mighty Thor, there was a number of films which appeared trying to exploit the name Thor. Some might consider that an homage, and that is about the best that you can say about this film. It is afflicted with action taken from a Kung-Fu flick, plastic props, papier maché monsters and special effects probably engineered by a high-schooler. It features poor acting, worse wigs and costumes that are bad D&D togs that make most bad historical costuming seem brilliant. They brought in musicians from India to score the action scenes, and the Vikings of course go against castles from the fourteenth century. You’d almost think that it was filmed in Malaysia…ooops. It was!

Last King, The (2016)

aka Birkebeinerne aka Den Siste Konungen

Beautiful Norwegian winter scenery that leaves me shivering in very warm weather. Vicious, brutal and effective action, with a very appropriate Viking sense of humor (Torstein, having an arrow removed, says, “If I die, I will kill you!”). A delightful mixture of heathen and Christian beliefs. In many ways it is a standard wild western horse opera which is very appropriate. Very good props, with an incredibly nice jeweled book and a toy horse, and generally good costuming. However, the armor has things added, such as greaves and gorgets that look closer to a standard fantasy film than an historical film. and lamellar armor is frequently seen. In fact, some just resemble papier-maché egg crates rather than armor. Weapons include a lot of crossbows, a double-bitted axe and swords that seem from an earlier era.

Viking Siege (2017)

aka Kingdom of the Northmen: Les Guerriers Damnés aka Attack of the Tree Beasts

A funny film featuring poor CGI and incredibly poor costuming that must be seen to be believed. No need to care, because it is not really an historical film but a PC horror film in Viking drag, featuring what have to be visitos from other eras. There are even a few costumes that are close to accurate! Castles are featured, of course, as is a renaissance lute player. All this within the first six minutes of the film. After that, the film is lots of ominous shots of the moon, incredibly ominous music, incredibly coy cartoon music, what must b gunpowder and prisons just like they had at the time. During the party at a castle, a gang of vengeful women plot to massacre a monastery full of corrupt monks who sold their loved ones as slaves. Their plan comes unstuck when a gang of marauding Vikings arrive pursued by vicious, tree-like demons on their tail. The film features a hand-held crossbow, an ever so fashionable turtleneck and most of the “action” takes place in a couple rooms of the castle. It was probably filmed at a room at a LARP event, and they were darned proud of it! It is difficult to find any worthwhile part of this travesty beyond the unintended levity.


Updating and correcting “Medieval Movies: Films of the Viking Era,” to include films released since the last edition. And discovered there were many other films as well…

I’ll be posting comments on some of the ones not covered before for the next month!

Pope Joan (1972)

aka The Devil’s Imposter

Set aside the fact that there was probably no actual Pope Joan, since it is of little more importance than the inaccuracies in any other historical film (see “The Adventures of Robin Hood,” “The Outlaw” or “Birth of a Nation”), the film is very well done. The cinematography is well done, and costumes are passable. Some details, such as pails, book closets and saddles, are well done and accurate. However, sexual aspects are rather unusual and somewhat uncomfortable, and her cross-dressing starts after a rape (though it is based in Joan’s previously established piety). The buildings are mainly the stone castles of about five hundred years later, but that is almost expected in a medieval film. And even the hovels of the poor are remarkably clean, spacious and hygienic, though they are shared with livestock. The film is rather jumpy and jerky. Events do not flow from one scene to another, and the music is rather cloying and sentimental. The film is not driven by the feminist ideology of the 2009 version, which some viewer might find disappointing and other relieving.

Pope Joan (2009)

aka Die Päpstin

Set aside the fact that there was probably no actual Pope Joan, since it is of little more importance than the inaccuracies in any other historical film (see “The Adventures of Robin Hood,” “The Outlaw” or “Birth of a Nation”), the film is very well done. The cinematography is well done, and costumes are passable. Some details, such as pails, book closets and saddles, are well done and accurate. However, sexual aspects are rather unusual and somewhat uncomfortable, and her cross-dressing starts after a rape (though it is based in Joan’s previously established piety). The buildings are mainly the stone castles of about five hundred years later, but that is almost expected in a medieval film. And even the hovels of the poor are remarkably clean, spacious and hygienic, though they are shared with livestock. The film is rather jumpy and jerky. Events do not flow from one scene to another, and the music is rather cloying and sentimental. The film is not driven by the feminist ideology of the 2009 version, which some viewer might find disappointing and other relieving.

Erik, the Viking (1965)

aka Erik il Vichingo aka Vengeance of the Vikings

Another Italian Spaghetti Northern film. Filled with cheerfully anachronistic costume, props and storylines with a very tenuous connection to historical facts. There is little difference between this and other Italian Viking films, and if you re able to like one–and can forgive the errors and the over-acting—this will be another film you will love. I just think that it is funny that they reach Vinland without even mentioning Greenland or Iceland, though I love the cactus and tropical plants that grows in Vinland! And it is ironic that the clothing of the Inuit make that of the Vikings look super-thenty, and the clothing of the seem to come from a variety of eras. But the film is nicely written and the action is well choreographed. Grab a mead, pull on your furry vest and concentrate on details only if you are good at forgetting them.


Updating and correcting “Medieval Movies: Films of the Viking Era,” to include films released since the last edition. And discovered there were many other films as well…

I’ll be posting comments on some of the ones not covered before for the next month!

Red Mantle, The (1967)

aka Hagbard and Signe aka Den Røde Kappe

Poor costuming and poor acting, with antiseptic scenery that is found dynamic and romantic by some people. The plot is based on an ancient legend, concerning Hagbard, the son of a slain Norse king. The music is by an acclaimed Icelandic band but seem oddly out of place. Very nice scenery.

Hammer of the Gods (2013)

aka Martelo dos Deuses aka Tanr lar n Çekici

If they set out to create the ultimate farby fantasy dream of macho larpists, they could not have done better! Lamellar armor, fur cloaks, swords across the back, short sleeves, filthy barbaric fashion and ominous black outfits. A passing knowledge of controversial theory is shown, abs there is a questionable bisexual question, who Is disliked because he is cruel and dirty not because of his sexual likes. The CGI is rather pedestrian and certain clumsiness. The film as a whole has a certain violence that would-be stylish and reminds you of an incompetent Tarantino.

Viking Quest (2015)

aka Vikings aka Le Clan des Vikings aka The Viking

Are there no new Harryhausens, at least in films of this caliber? The story hinges about a version of the Greek myth of Perseus and the kraken, but the CGI is rather awkward. Farby costumes look like they were made of artificial fibers, and even the very acting seems uninspired and clumsy. It does feature tattoos, of course, and braided beards. And did they get a discount on the furs used in costumes? The central character, Erick, just a modern nerd misplaced in this Viking fantasy universe probably to appeal to the gamers that seem the primary audience, but it seems as if the writers just tried to throw as many stereotypes against the wall and hope that a couple stuck. I did love the earrings worn by Erick, the Viking Ben Franklin!

Hammer of the Gods (2009)

aka Thor: Hammer of the Gods

Not presented as anything but a farby fantasy film suitable D&D “epic” with a tendency to try to confuse this with the Marvel Comics version. Ludicrous overacting, well as more than ludicrous costume and armor. Terrible CGI and special effects, which can be the only redeeming aspect for a film of this kind, especially when the “action” scenes are so static and clumsy. Confusing, jerky and often too dark cinematography that at least hides the farbiness of some of the armor. The number of nasal guards are incredible, and I do not think any are accurate.

Viking Blood (2019)

aka Alma de Guerreiro aka Viking—L’anima del Guerriero

So much better than many of its companion films. Costumes are adequate though not overwhelmingly accurate, and there are many furry cloaks just because that is what some viewers expect to see. There is, of course, a female warrior with a sword across her back, but many of the sets and props are exceptional. The cinematography is pretty well done, and the film deals with the Conversion in a fresh and interesting way. Since so many films today are copied…homages to other films. This film reminded me of Sergio Leone’s Man with no name films, down to the Ennio Morriconesque music.




Breay, Claire and Joanna Story (Editors). Anglo-Saxon Kingdoms
Catalog from the British Museum Exhibition, well written with magnificent illustrations of artefacts.

Crawford, Sally. Daily Life in Anglo-Saxon England
An outstanding book dealing mainly with the physical culture, drawing on the latest research. One of Greenwood’s excellent “Daily Life Through History” series.

Cunnington, Cecil Willett and Phillis. Handbook of English Medieval Costume
According to some historical costumers, Cunnington is the single most valuable source for costumery.

Ewing, Þor. Viking Costume
Overview of aspects of Norse clothing, drawing from earlier sources, archaeological investigation and the author’s own conclusions.

Graham-Campbell, James. Viking Art
An introduction to the six main styles of Viking art, updated to reflect recent archaeological discoveries.

Heaney, Seamus(Translator). Daniel Donoghue (Editor). Beowulf: A Verse Translation: A Norton Critical Edition
A collection of pertinent artefacts along with what I consider to be the finest translation of the poem. And the translated text is a great source for stories to tell around the campfire!

Jesch, Judith. The Viking Diaspora
A recommended look at all aspects of the culture.

MacWelch, Tim. The Ultimate Bushcraft Survival Manual
Boy Scout manuals on camping as well as survivalist manuals on camping ar useful, but this is considered an excellent source. It examines how native peoples around the world and throughout history have made their own shelter, weapons, tools, and more. If you want to learn more about traditional ways of survival, this is a recommended single volume.

Mould, Quita. Craft, Industry and Everyday Life: Leather and Leatherworking in Anglo-Scandinavian and Medieval York
One of the profusely illustrated, phenomenal books from the York Archaeological Trust, showing finds from excavations in York, plans and small essays on the craft. This one features leather work, including shoes and scabbards of the time.

Owen-Crocker, Gail. Dress in Anglo-Saxon England, Second Edition
Excellent source on the details of Anglo-Saxon costume. Minimally useful as practical guide as most of the information is aimed at researching the entire kit. Highly recommended!

Williams, Gareth. Johnny Shumate, Illustrator. Weapons of the Viking Warrior
This deals most with the weapons of war but can be used as well to determine about utility tools.

Wolf, Kirsten. The Daily Life of Vikings
An excellent look at the Norse culture of the Viking Age, using the most current citations. One of Greenwood’s excellent “Daily Life Through History” series.

Web Pages

Coalcracker Bushcraft. “Flint and Steel Basics.” Accessed 15 December 2021.

Connor Fitzgerald. “The 5 Best Campfire Lays and How to Build Them,” Accessed 8 December 2021.

“First Aid Manual.” Accessed 16 December 2021.

Hands on History. “Bedroll for Viking Hiking.” Accessed 15 December 2021.

__. “Clothes for Historical Trekking.” Accessed 15 December 2021.

__. “Sleeping Shelters aka Tarps.” Accessed 13 December 2021.

“How to Tie 7 Basic Knots.” Accessed 12 December 2021.

“Regia Anglorum—Basic Clothing Guide.” Accessed 6 January 2021.

“Viking Games.” Accessed 21 December 2021.


In alphabetical order. Add other items you might consider essential:

☐ Axe
☐ Bowl
☐ First-Aid Kit
☐ Flint, Steel & Tinder
☐ Food for one day more tan you expect to be out
☐ Fur (sheep or reindeer preferred
☐ Kestrel
☐ Leather Thong
☐ Optional Cup
☐ Personal Medicines
☐ Pot if you plan to cook
☐ Rope
☐ Scrip
☐ Seax
☐ Sewing Kit
☐ Spoon
☐ Towel
☐ Wool Blankets (at least two; a blanket can be used as a cloak if necessary)



Chances are that most people of the time were illiterate unless they were ecclesiastical. For ecclesiasticals, any books carried should probably be biblical or religious homilies.

Blank books could be useful, and they can be marked with pen and ink, with pieces of charcoal or pencils of lead. Those marked in lead will fade and must be copied in a more permanent manner within a few days.

Wax tablets are period and can be used to take notes and hash marks. They can be erased or marked over to be re-used, or the wax can be remelted if the surface becomes too choppy.


Do not die of boredom. Some sort of entertainment might be necessitated by circumstances.

Know period tales to relate or songs to be sung (note that tunes are unknown for the period, except for religious music, but poems probably used as songs were known.

Trekkers may be amused or entertained by games. Period games of various types can be brought or produced. Dice and sheeps’ knuckles are small and light, and tafl boards can be drawn on the ground or on rocks, with rocks or coins being used as gaming characters.


The large decision is whither you plan to record your effort, either with still or moving pictures.

If your decision is affirmative, you have to decide whether you should be accompanied by a cameraman. He might dress in modern clothing, overtly using modern devices. Many people would find this to be a direct contradiction to what you are trying to do, but the decision must be yours, for we all live in a modern world no matter what our goals and actions are.


These are all legitimate possible variations on trekking, and each one could be a chapbook by itself. If any of these intrigue you, you can do the research and do a great impression!

• Horseback Riding
• Bringing a pet
• Pilgrimage
• Sailing
• Skating
• Skiing



The bedding should be a size that fits beneath the shelter you bring. It is usually furs and blankets, though sometimes there are other constructions that these are placed on or in. For example, you can cut down boughs to hold the bed, though this is not really recommended.

If they are available, lay down a mattress of pine needles for mattress. Set out a fur or an oilskin tarp, then the woolen blankets you will sleep between. Some people cannot sleep without a pillow to support their heads, and I have found that a smaller fur makes comfortable pillows.

Hands on History notes that sun drying not tanning the fur makes it water resistant.


In most cases, you will not find it advantageous to bring along a full tent—geteld or wedge—on a trek. All the equipment and poles needed to set it up a full tent are heavy and awkward, even if you plan to cut poles each time you stop rather than bringing them with you. It is also wasteful of natural resources.

For a temporary shelter, you will want a water-resistant tarp or blanket with leather or sewn grommets. Modern brass or copper grommets are entirely farby, being invented in the mid-nineteenth century. Densely woven wool is recommended. It should be coated on at least one side with fat and ochre or with linseed oil.

It remains controversial about how far back oilskin—linen painted with linseed oil—dates, though it is advantageous. To make oil skin, the linen should be stretched out, perhaps pinned or nailed to a wall or stretched over some sort of frame. Equal amounts of mineral spirits and linseed oil is mixed and is then painted onto the fabric. It takes different lengths of time to dry, but the fabric will dry more quickly if stretched out in a warm sun. Sometimes, a second coat is preferred, but the first coat must first be completely dry. Note that linseed oil can combust if the wet, linseed-oil-soaked fabric is not taut.

The simplest and most desirable shelter is just a lean-to consisting of a tarp. The tarp should be at an angle to protect and augment the water resistance. The water resistance, however, is better when the tarp is just taut. Touching it with your hands or head, or even from some external source, can decrease the water resistance.

Hemp rope should be brought, though rope has many uses. Hemp rope is mainly smooth and will not leave splinters in your hand. It is best to learn a few simple knots:

• Square (Reef) Knot
• Bowline
• Two Half-hitches
• Taut Line
• Clove Hitch
• Figure 8 Knot
• Sheet Bend

Slides—wood or metal rectangles with two holes through which the rope slides. It is advantageous when needing to adjust the tautness of the rope.

Cordage may be wrapped in a figure 8 and then wrapped around the middle and tied. No knots are necessary, and the cord is easily deployed. Leather thong or lacing are also useful and essential.

Stakes can be metal, but they can also carved out of wood or simply from sharpened sticks as well.

The tarp can be suspended from support poles that can be manufactured or are so small that they can be carried with you. The tarp also can be suspended from a rope tied to two trees. There are several ways to do this. Practice setting up your shelter—in several ways—before the expedition even starts.



Transporting materials should be done in the easiest and most convenient manner you can find. For the most part, this means that you need to make either a backpack or a bedroll which will carry a lot of your gear.

When packing your backpack, make certain that the weight is evenly distributed. It is suggested that you practice packing your gear and lifting the result. Do not be afraid to start over an d prepack it to make it easier to carry.

Set out your fur and blankets. Place the gear you are taking in the middle. Then roll it tightly and secure it with rope or a strap. I will repeat, roll it tightly! The ends can tied with a rope or a strap for carrying over your shoulder (either by the rope or strap or with the roll over your shoulder. It can also be separated into several bundles and secured by a strap for transportation on a simple frame that can be attached to your back so that it resembles a knapsack.

The Gokstad backpack is a basket that may contain the goods and then is strapped to the back. It is unknown how common this was, since all that remains of it are a solid wooden top and bottom (with holes where the upright spines were inserted) . It is unknown, in fact, if the sides were basketwork or solid leather. Interpretations have been both.

Anything secured in this manner is not readily available and should not be considered accessible. Anything that does need to be readily available should probably be placed into a scrip and carried over the shoulder.


While it is possible to bring along raw materials on a trek, that can be cumbersome and requires at least a metal pot and some way to suspend it over the fire. It makes a lot more sense to bring along prepared foods and to eat them cold or, if you want warm foods, suspended on a road or stick over a fire.

Suggested Prepared Foods

Keep it simple. An eighteenth-century refers to the bag that contains food as his food wallet.

• Cheese
• Bread, Crackers and/or Flatbread
• Jerkeyed meat
• Fresh Fruit (such as apples, grapes and cherries, but not sweet oranges)
• Dried Fruit and Vegetables
• hard-boiled eggs


• Fresh vegetables including kale, turnips, peas and (not a vegetable) mushrooms
• porridge dried
• salt

Fresh Foods

Collect fruits and berries as you trek, but make certain they are safe and edible. Do not consume anything that you are not certain may be safely eaten!

If you have the time, you might want to hunt or to fish along the way, but keep in mind that the meat must be prepared before consumption. You must have the knowledge for doing this, as well as the time to do it. Keep in mind that if you have to take the dead animal for later preparation, it will add to the weight being transported, and the discarding of unwanted parts of the animal is not advised just on moral grounds.


Many trekking videos and articles are obsessed with telling you how to cook. If you want to cook, that is okay, but I have a tendency to love cold camps! If you are unable to exist without warm food, and want to cook food rather than just heating it, you must bring along the necessary equipment—pots, skillets, spits, trivets, griddles and cooking utensils such as ladles and cooking forks.

Recommended equipment are a wooden bowl, a spoon (wood, horn or metal) and a cup (wood or metal; ceramic cups can be too delicate). Drinking directly from the kestrel without a cup is entirely acceptable. Horns are for feasts and horn cups are probably not period


Every person on the expedition should have a personal kestrel or two, a leather or ceramic canteen. Fill it with enough or other liquid to last the trek. The liquid might be milk (if the weather is not too warm), fruit juice, cider or near beer. If a leather kestrel is wax lined, alcoholic liquid might very well destroy the lining!

Any alcoholic beverage—beer, wine and hard liquor—can be brought in a separate kestrel but should not be used as a primary source for drinking.

If you replenish water—don’t get involved with making juice—you should make certain that the source is potable. Wells or clean streams are good sources, as is rain water which is not strained through branches. Do not drink water that is not moving



Kindling & Larger Firewood

Choose a barren level place, if possible, to build your fire. You probably do not want to dig a pit, lining the edge of the pit with blocks of the dug sod (which should be replaced) since you will probably not take along a shovel. Instead, line the perimete of the fire ara with rocks if possible. Kindling is smaller wood that can catch fire easily. Larger firewood must not be too large and should often be split into four or more sections with an axe. Depending on how long you have to keep the fire going, you might very well have to add wood to the fire.

The wood should be dry, which can make accumulating the kindling and firewood more difficult, but it is advised that you not bring larger pieces of wood with you on the trek. Find it in the immediate area around your camp if possible.

The Tipi

The Tipi is the most important layout for a fire. They burn steadily for a short amount of time.

Connor FitzGerald says: “Start by placing the tinder bundle into the fire pit. Build a cone over the tinder bundle by leaning small pieces of kindling against each other, making sure to leave gaps for air, and a door to light the tinder. Build a few more layers on the teepee with larger and larger kindling. Light the tinder!”

The Lean-To

The lean-to, is most useful when you need cover to start a fire in the wind or rain.

FitzGerald notes, “Take a long piece of kindling and stick in into the ground at a 30-degree angle. Make sure the end in the ground points into the wind, and the end sticking up points in the direction that the wind is blowing. Place the tinder bundle underneath that stick, and build a very small teepee of kindling around it. Take the smallest pieces of kindling you have and start leaning them on either side of the piece stuck in the ground, building a tent shape with one side left open. Add a few layers to the lean-to with increasingly bigger pieces of kindling. Light the tinder inside the teepee to get your fire started.”

The lean-to campfire lay uses the same principles as the teepee to get started, but it also adds the protection of the outer tent. This means that you can use a lean-yo to start a fire in strong winds and even rain – the tent keeps the fire sheltered as it grows, and by the time the structure burns and collapses the fire will be big enough to survive the weather on its own.

The Square

For a campfire lay that provides all the warmth and comfort of a log cabin, look no further than the log cabin campfire lay. This is a lay that you can get started quickly and easily, and, depending on how you build it, can keep burning for hours with no extra work.

Fitzgerald writes of the “log cabin variation,” where a roof is made over the square, “Start with a small teepee built around a tinder bundle. Take your two biggest pieces of firewood and place them on either side of the teepee, parallel to each other. Take the next two biggest logs and stack them on top of and perpendicular to the first two. Anyone who has ever played with Lincoln Logs will start to see where this is going. Continue stacking logs on top of your cabin in sets of two, each set in the opposite direction of the one before it. As you start using smaller logs, [you can] start placing them closer together, until you’ve built a closed roof on top of your log cabin. Carefully reach in to the center and light the tinder, and soon you’ll have a slow-burning fire on your hands.”

Making a Fire in the Wet

Build your fire under some sort of shelter—either natural or a portable shelter or blanket of some sort Gather small pieces of wood—the more the better so that you do have to go out into the wet too often to accumulate wood. If the wood is not too wet, you can find flammable inner wood by using your axe to cut away the outside of dead wood and creating flammable shavings.

Make a platform—often just two or three steps that keep the shavings off the wet ground. Select small slicks that will dry quickly and build the firepit using the driest kindling and larger firewood that you can find, drying the wood by stacking the wood around the fire. This process may take a while but will become warmer and sustainable if you use patience.


Make certain that the fire is out before you leave the site. Using water or dirt, extinguish the fire, stir the ashes and pour on more. Only when you are certain the fire is totally out should you move on.




Everyone should have tinder in their possession during a trek. Tinder is the foundation of your fire. Your sparks sets the tinder afire with careful handling and that then ignites kindling. There are several types of tinder, and more than one type can be used; carry multiple types of tinder if possible, and use them as needed. Good tinder lasts for at least one to two minutes and still works even when damp.


Linen fabric that has been burnt until it is very brittle an flammable. It is created in a method of controlling the air and keeping the combustion level controlled. It remains controversial, since some say that fabric during the period was too valuable to waste for charcloth.

Shavings & Fuel Cubes

Modern woodworking methods produces plenty of sawdust but few shavings. Sawdust or flammable fibers can be mixed with wax to form fuel cubes. However, these are of doubtful accuracy.

Rather, use planers or drawknives to produce wood shavings. These were often used and can be found in some tinder boxes from the period. Whether you add any wax to help flammability is up to you. The wood should be one that easily combusts.

Tinder Fungus

Atlas Obscura notes that “Archeological evidence reveals that at least 7,000 years ago, humans were using several types of dried tree fungus for their fire-starting properties.” In fact, Ötzi the Iceman carried a fungus known as “touchwood” or “punk” as part of his belongings five thousand years ago.

Several types of fungus are classified as tinder fungus, including “horse’s hoof” fungus or fomes fomentarius. They grow in forested regions around the world and are tough and inedible. While there are many ways to prepare the fungus for maximum smolder, the quickest way is to slice away the outer layer of the fungus. Once lit, the slice should smolder for long enough to catch the larger kindling.

From the early medieval period until the invention of the lucifer, a treated fungus product called amadou was widely used to speed the ignition.


Tow is the fiber of flax, hemp or nettle before it is spun into thread. Cotton works well also but is definitely not period.

Wool is a flame retardant and will not work for fire-starting purposes.

Candle or Wax-Soaked Shavings or Wood

This was mentioned before. Wax is recommended because of the smell of store tallow. A separate candle set on fire at the base of the kindle is also very effective.

Do Not Use Paper

Paper also provides a useful and practical tinder, but since paper was not yet introduced into Europe, so do not employ it.

There are both articles and videos readily available that go into greater depth on the details of any process. Some might work better for you than others, so you should try several methods before decided on which is best for you.

Whatever way you decide to bring, practice first. Be adept at it before venturing into the wilds! However, causing a spark is only the start. You need some kind of tinder to catch any sparks.



Methods to Create Fire

Matches (lucifers) and lighters are obviously not period. Sulfur-soaked cord—known as matches—were from a later time and used with gunpowder.

There are several acceptable period ways for starting fires:

Flint & Steel

The best shaped steel for producing the fire is what is called a strike-a-light. Flint and steel is a primitive fire-making technique dating back into the Iron Age when steel was first available. It is an easy and effective way to start fires in a wilderness environment. But speed is important since the beginning flame may be fragile and fleeting.

A wide variety of strike-a-lights existed at the time, and many did not change much for centuries afterwards. You do not want to use a knife or another tool for the steel unless necessary, since you use the flint to shear off a piece of the steel to produce the spark.

The flint or pyrite must be large enough to hold in you hand, and it should be knapped to a point that is used against the steel. It should be reknapped whenever the necessary point gets too blunt. It is recommended that the steel striker be struck against the sharp edge of the flint. This creates sparks, and these sparks ignite the tinder. The tinder is joined with a larger tinder bundle which is blown—gently—into flame.


While flint and steel can create a fire without necessarily being dry—the tinder must be dry, of course—creating fire through friction requires that the wood being used is dry.

A fireboard is a piece of flat, dry, brittle wood has a depression that will accept the end of the drill, a straight piece of wood with a point that fits into the depression on the fireboard. The drill will then be spun back and forth either by bow or between your hands. When the point of friction is warm enough to smolder, tinder is added to catch fire.

Magnifying Glass

The use of magnifying glasses to start fires is purely hypothetical. However, the Norse and others had magnifying lenses—glass and crystal—of various types and ability.

These lenses were used as jewelry and possibly magnification since that had long been done. However, wearing such a jewel on your chest during a bright day will surely cause warmth, and the Norse would have certainly noticed this and exploited that ability.

The method of fire by use of a magnifying lens should be familiar with any child who has used a magnifying glass too burn ants or who has watched “Ball of Fire.” The light focused by the lens must be carefully focused and aimed.

Maintaining a Spark

Fires were usually kept going once started, and this is true even if the fire was not stationary. Long-burning fires—actually smoldering sparks—were sometimes placed in a repository—often a shell—that did not extinguish the spark nor burst into fire. This obviously requires a lot of experimentation and practice, and it is altogether easier to start each fire anew in whatever manner is most advantageous!



Shorter canes are infrequently found, but walking staves are not. The staves should be simple and probably weighted at the end. Calling them trekking poles, Christine Bore notes that “On those uphill climbs, trekking poles help take some of the weight off your hips and legs by utilizing your arm strength.

On the downhill, they help ease the pressure on your knees. And on those stream crossings, these puppies have saved me more times than I can count by helping me balance.”


The trekker is not going to war, so hopefully he will not be dressing to go to war. Maille and a helmet are heavy, and there are some weapons which will hinder rather than help you on the trek. Some weapons are designed primarily for war—for killing people—and not merely for defense. Some weapons are for war, while others may be used for war but are primarily meant to be utility tools.

The sword—both the single-sided scramsax and the double-sided broadsword—was not only primarily a weapon of war but would be rather awkward on treks.

The spear could be used in various incarnations as, for example, a boar spear, and it could be used as a staff and was certainly not as clumsy and single purposed as a sword.

The axe was famously a heavy-duty weapon, but smaller, lighter, more easily transportable axes and hatchets were used primarily for cutting and shaping wood although if needed, it could be a weapon of self-defense.

Bows were of different strengths, but they were used for many purposes. The arrowheads determined the real purpose of the archery.

On the other hand, there are certain weapons—tools if you prefer—that are essential, both for hunting and for working in the wilderness.

Bows and arrows could be used for hunting and were fairly easy to transport.

Axes and hatchets were extremely useful for practical purposes.

The seax or knif could be used as a weapon of last result but was primarily used for practical, small tasks. It cuts cord, slices food, could prepare kindling and do many other practical tasks. Everyone of the time had at least one seax; even the thralls had a—presumably small—utility seax because it was so useful.

Some kind of whetstone should be brought. Like a utility seax, it is essential!

Beneath it All

There is precious little that we know about what was worn as underwear in period. If any was worn as all. As long as the underwear is not seen and does not affect the silhouette, wear what is needed unless you are trying to duplicate what might have been experienced at the time. If the weather is cool or cold, feel free to wear thermal underwear and woolen socks.



Much of the clothing of the time was unisex. Clothing that was worn mainly by one gender or the other is marked below with (m) or (f). Descriptions are taken from entries in Regia Anglorum’s Basic Clothing Guide.


Shoes come down to us in various styles, and the York Archaeological Trust created a timeline that showed the various types in York. They were secured in various ways and were of different heights, though during this period they were not known to be higher than the just above the ankles.

They were all made of leather—goat leather was popular—and were turn-soled shoes. Welted, hard-soled shoes were not seen until the sixteenth century. Marc Carlson describes turn-soled shoes as “The shoe is made inside-out (with the flesh side outward) by sewing the lower edge of the upper to the edge of a single sole using an Edge-Flesh stitch. The shoe is then turned the right way round so that the grain side of the leather is on the outside of the shoe and the sole seam is now inside.”

Shoes of the time seem to have all been made from the same thickness of leather, but some shoes—especially by modern shoemakers—have soles of a heavier weight to increase its endurance and durability. It is worth noting that the soles are smooth (and not gridded or hobbed) and, therefore, quite slippery, though there is some suggestion that shoes of the time placed pitch on the soles to increase the amount of traction.

It is more appropriate to say that leather is water resistant rather than water proof. Leather has a tendency to absorb liquid, so that it will not be waterproof unless it is totally coated. A Norwegian reenacting group, Hands on History, makes turnshoes water resistant with liver oil, tallow, tar and bee’s wax cod. They note that liver oil is greatest ingredient.

Unless you are trying to mimic the discomfort of the period, putting in cushioned innersole that are unseen is generally not forbidden. Just as bringing necessary medicine is essential, so is making these very important compromises, and it is one of the compromises that is necessary.

Belts & Pouches

For our purposes, the difference between belts and sashes is that the belt—whether leather, card-woven or fabric—has a buckle and other furniture, such as strap ends, slides and plaques (obviously, the higher status you were, the more decorated the belt could be), though the belts you bring trekking should probably be rather simple and inexpensive. Belts and sashes were, for the most part thin and, from the buckles that are extant, no more than half an inch or three quarters of the inch in thickness. We allow belts to be an inch in thickness. The sashes might have been card-woven, fabric or merely cord or rope.

Tails of the belt should not be hanging down; this was a later fashion. A look at illustrations of belted tunics during the period and the popularity of belt slides also indicates that the ends of the belts were placed into the slide and not hung down from the buckle. Sashes were knotted, but lengthy tails might well be doubted.

Buckles, strap ends and slides were made of horn, bone or metal. Belts are not seen in illustrations, being obscured by rucked-up tunics or gowns.

Some illustrations suggest that the sash may have been wrapped around twice with a twist in it. Regia Anglorum notes that “It is interesting to note that strap ends but no buckles have been found in Viking women s graves, suggesting that waist ties rather than belts were worn.” Tools and personal ornaments are sometimes shown hanging from women’s sashes and tortoise brooches, but we cannot be sure how widespread this practice was.

Rather than going through a list of available types of pouches or purses, going through what might be contained in them and especially going through where and how they can be displayed—something covered exhaustively elsewhere, and we wrote an entire book on the subject—let us just make a statement. It is best to have a scrip that hangs from the neck. It is useful and can contain many useful things. These pouches may be fabric (hemp or flax linen) or leather. Pouches are seen in illustrations of the time, but Bible book bags of the time are extant and show how the pouches actually were made.

The other type of pouch you might want is a small drawstring pouch, but this is just cosmetic It is a great place to put in coins and slash silver, souvenirs and other inconsequential things. The drawstring pouch should be kept under your tunic for no other reason than to keep it safe.



Much of the clothing of the time was unisex. Clothing that was worn mainly by one gender or the other is marked below with (m) or (f). Descriptions are taken from entries in Regia Anglorum’s Basic Clothing Guide.

Dress (f)

Women did not wear trousers. In fact, a woman wearing trousers was a cause for divorce.

The woman’s overdress was generally ankle length with full-length sleeves. The tightness of the sleeves varied with time. The body of the dress was not tailored and similar in shape and construction to the male tunic. It may have been belted at the waist and sometimes pouched over exposing the hem of the underdress. Belts or sashes were usually restricted to the lower classes, allowing them to keep clothing from getting in the way of labor.

The underdress was usually made of linen or fine wool, ankle length. Sleeves were long and tight, and the ends extended to the middle of the hand and were then pushed up to the wrist. Hangerocs were the traditional Scandinavian over-dress, though it has been suggested—because of the disappearance of so-called tortoise brooches can no longer be found after the conversion—that it was a style worn by the heathens. There are several reconstructions of this garment.


Gloves were coverings for the hands worn for protection. There were two purposes for gloves of the time, both practical. First, they could be used to protect the hand against heat, friction, abrasion and dirt while laboring. Second, they could protect the hand against the cold. Practical gloves were generally made out of leather or fur and wool, in three main versions.

Mittens, where a single sheath held the fingers together, was the most common and possibly the warmest. The individual fingered glove such as that common today was less frequently found and was probably preferred for work. The third variation—actually a variation of the glove style—were fingerless gloves where the palms are often padded to provide protection to the hand, and the exposed fingers do not interfere with sensation or gripping. Both glove and mitten have an individual thumb.

Trousers (m)

Trousers were mostly wool and seemed to have come in a variety of styles, both loose and tight fitting. There are few extant trousers—the pre-Viking era Þorsberg trousers are fairly complete—but our notions are mainly based on period illustrations and to a lesser degree on literary mentions. They were apparently held up both by drawstrings and by belts (with belt loops).

Tight leggings were similar to later hose and were apparently sometimes worn in period. They were usually separate and attached to a belt. In later times, garters were attached at the knee and the wearer rolled down the hose to cool the wearer. It is not known whether this was done at this period. The hose, like breeches, might have built-in socks.

Stockings & Socks

Hose was worn both by men and by women, though there is some suggestion that women wore garters. Both sexes did wear shorter socks. We have a few naalbound socks that are extant, but fabric sock tubes and even wrapped socks were also worn. There have been an indication that naalbound socks were thick enough that they could be worn as slippers, and I have personally done this! The naalbound socks are thick—at least at the beginning of their use—and provide excellent pads for the feet.

Plain white or grey socks are acceptable as long as they are mostly or entirely hidden from public view. Socks should not be loud or have designs of any sort.

Winingas—and many other names as well—were leg wraps later known as puttees, which went from the ankle to about the knee. There were several ways of wrapping them, and they were secured either with hooks or with various ties. There were mostly lengths of wool that were between two and three inches wide, about six to twelve feet long. They were probably mostly used by people in active trades or going through overgrown brush and would therefore be very useful for trekking. Evidence is scarce, but it would appear that types of Winingas were popular both with men and women.



Much of the clothing of the time was unisex. Clothing that was worn mainly by one gender or the other is marked below with (m) or (f). Descriptions are taken from entries in Regia Anglorum’s Basic Clothing Guide.


Hoods are about the only way to keep the sun out of your eyes! The hood was often of wool of varying thicknesses. Hoods worn in the heat were much cooler than you might suppose. Not only did the wool breath, but gaps between the face and the hood allowed ventilation.

The big disadvantage of hoods was that the sides often drooped down over the eye on one side of the other, rendering the wearer half blind. It also insulated the ear, so that the wearer was effectively deaf, but the hood could easily be pulled down about the neck so that the blindness and deafness of the wearer could be alleviated.

The cap is a kind of soft, flat hat and comes in many variations down to the present day. Caps of the period did not have visors or brims.

Panel caps were used by the Norse more than for the Englisc. No naalbound caps have been found, so these caps were probably four- or six-paneled woolen caps. The use of furry bands around the outer band of the cap seem to be reenactorisms.

The Englisc had skull caps, made of leather or wool, more like yarmulkes than the panel caps. They fit higher on the head than the panel caps.

Women had three basic styles of headgear, though there were many variations:v

Arming caps, familiarly known as “Baby bonnets” were a later development and were not worn during this period. Straw and slouch hats were not used in this period. Straw hats might have been in use by the end of the period but were not common. The slouch hat, although appearing in non-period illustrations of Oðinn, actually date from a later period. The Phrygian cap was a style from classical times and is found in contemporary illustrations but was probably not found in this era.


A rectangular or semi-circular piece of wool, often thick, secured at the neck with a pin of some sort. Most brooches or pins were on the right should (since the wearer was usually right-handed, and this made it easier to grab the sword), but they were also secured over the chest. Whether this style was used by women and people not armed, we cannot tell. The cloaks were worn both inside and outside since there was often no such thing as universal indoor heat!

The length of the cloak varied from a little below the waist to ankle length. For trekking, the length should probably be short enough for the hiker to move easily but long enough to keep him warn. Hoods were not attached to the cloak, though they were in later times.

Cloaks were not different for men and for women (and for children, except the size). Norse women also wore a triangular or rectangular shawl or cape, fastened at the neck with a brooch.

Not only did the cloaks keep a person warm, but they could be used as blankets. They should be tightly woven, which helps them to retain warmth and also protected against the wet.

The cloaks did not seem to be lined, but then few if any of the clothing of the time were lined. There are, of course, people who disagree with this, but we still urge that the cloak and any lining are the same color.

Mantles—essentially shorter cloaks and basically in the words of Regia Anglorum, “an oval shape with a hole in it for the head to pass through. It was sometimes worn over the wimple, sometimes under it”—were worn by wealthier women, and cloaks were often worn over the mantle while traveling.

Tunic (m)

The tunic was frequently worn by men during the Middle Ages. Formerly used as undergarments during antiquity, during the Middle Ages it became an outer garment, and an under-tunic was frequently worn as well.

Tunics of the time were loose and most frequently wool and more expensively linen. They were long sleeved, and the sleeves are usually “fairly loose on the upper arm but tighter on the forearm, often with creases or pleats shown round the lower arm. The skirts are full, frequently made fuller by the insertion of extra triangular panels at each side.” Viking tunics often descended to above the knees while Englisc tunics descended to below. In both cases, a belt or scarf was often used to ruck up the tunic, so that what belts were used at the time were often obscured (see the Julian work calendar).

Brooches or pins could be used at the collar to close the neckline or to secure any wrap-arounds. Buttons were known during the era but were not used to secure much clothing as they were in late eras.

It is worth noting that tunics were always worn; the male chest was not bared because that was a sign of effeminacy, indicating that the female chest could be bared (probably not sexual, just for nursing). Catherine Stallybrass notes, in the “Laxdaelasaga, I think, Guðrún Ósvífursdóttir marries her first husband (Þorvaldr Halldórsson) at the age of 15 and he turns out to be a man she cares little for. She makes him a low-cut shirt. This means that either he will refuse to wear it, in which case she can divorce him for unreasonable behaviour, or he wears it, in which case she can divorce him for effeminacy.” Trousers were taken off to avoid too much warmth; see the workers in the Julius work calendar.



You are not dressing for a royal progress. Dress for practicality and for comfort! Clothing should be made of unembroidered, untrimmed plain cloth. Fancy, expensive clothing should not be worn.

The fabric used should be wool, not linen. Not only was wool more common, but it was less expensive. And more practical than linen because the wool is far warmer and, even when it gets wet, remains warm and comfortable.

If allergic to wool, linen clothes may be worn beneath the wool. I consider it another medical necessity!

Colors are less important, though bright and expensive colors should be used seldom if at all. Regia Anglorum lists the status of colors as:

Lowest Rank

• Undyed Wool
• Cream
• Full range of Browns
• Grey
• Combinations of the above in weaves
• Unbleached linen (probably)
• Faded middle rank dyes

Low Middle Rank

Any of the above plus

• Weld: Yellow, Yellowy-Green, Moss Green.
• Wild Madder: Salmony-pink, Orange-brown, Bleached Linen.

Slightly Richer Middle Rank

Any of the above plus

• More intense madder Red from cultivated plants
• Woad: Blue
• Combinations of the above, e.g. Leaf Green, Bottle Green

High Rank

Any of the above plus

• Small amounts of Kermes Red (Cardinal Red)

High Clergy & Royalty

Any of the above plus

• Shellfish Purple
• Silk garments

The preferred colors for trekking are the lower, less expensive colors since dyed clothing was produced with more expensive dyes.

We will not be discussing jewelry, though we recommend that very elaborate jewelry be avoided. Some jewelry—especially some brooches and probably personally valuable pieces such as rings, armlets, beads (probably no more than three for a male)—will be covered.



Rips, tears and worn areas on your clothing happen and develop at all times. Repairs might not be essential or needed to be repaired or replaced immediately, but they might be very essential. At least you (or one person in your party if there is more than just you) should have carry an emergency sewing kit.

The kit needs not contain such things as a naalbinding needle, yarn, spindle or the like. If you want to use them for a project, that is one thing, but, it is suggested that these items are necessary:

• Linen or Hemp thread (on a period winder, not on a spool of wood or plastic)
• sinew (on a period winder, not on a spool of wood or plastic)
• At least one needle(steel, iron, bone or copper; make certain the eye is larger enough to accept the thread)
• At least one pin (steel, iron, bone or copper)
• snips or scissors
• fabric patches
• leather patches
• awl for leather
• A piece of wax

Contents of the kit should be kept in a period container, for example a small bentwood box or a bag of leather or wool, preferably red.


The accuracy of your clothing does not rely on how fancy it is. Accuracy depends on three different points:

• Whether each article of clothing (and jewelry) has the proper number of documentable precedents, either visual, literary or an artefact
• Whether the majority of the clothing and equipment is from the same culture, time and social status (a single exception per impression is sometimes allowed by a variety of societies)
• Whether all the material used in sewing the clothing is period, namely wool, linen (flax, hemp or nettle) or leather/fur

What you choose the clothing for your trekking impression, realize that you are not choosing costume for a royal progress or for an encampment.

You are traveling by foot or by horse-, ass- or mule-back, not by ship or even by waggon. The gear gathered should be light and not cumbersome, and both easily transportable and furniture should be kept at home or at a major encampment and not carried on the trek. You should be wearing neither a maille shirt nor a helmet. You are out hunting or just traveling from one place to another.

Remember: you are attempting to embody the common everyday non-martial lifestyle of the day!



Most modern objects should be avoided, but there are a few that should be included for safety reasons. However, if there is more than one member of the expedition, with a few exceptions these items should be entrusted to only one member of the expedition and not borne by all members.

• Keys and ID kept in a pouch
• Telephone (fully charged and not turned on)
• Compass and map or GPS (if not provided by the phone)
• First Aid Kit (see below)
• Small Camera (if not provided by the phone)
• Any necessary personal medication • Keys and ID kept in a pouch
• Telephone (fully charged and not turned on)
• Compass and map or GPS (if not provided by the phone)
• First Aid Kit (see below)
• Small Camera (if not provided by the phone)
• Any necessary personal medication
• Toilet Paper (you can use moss or vegetation…if you are certain it will be available and will not irritate your bottom if it is)
• Female necessities (each member of the expedition should have their own supply)
• Toilet Paper (you can use moss or vegetation…if you are certain it will be available and will not irritate your bottom if it is)
• Female necessities (each female member of the expedition should have their own supply)

Let a friend who is not going on the trek know your schedule, and agree to let that friend know when you get safely back into civilization.

A sounding horn (made from real horn) is not at all modern but can be essential in emergencies. Each person should have a horn that can be blown to let people know where they are if they get lost or to call for help.


Do I really have to waste any time explaining why you should have a first-aid kit when running around in the wilds with sharp tools and unpaved earth?

Rudimentary first aid kits may be purchased or built up personally. The following contents are suggested:

• Booklet explaining emergency procedures
• Gauze strips, gauge pads and tape (avoid plastic strips)
• Scissors to cut gauze or tape
• Antiseptic Wash
• Antibiotic Ointment
• Instant Cold Compress
• Thermometer
• Tweezers (modern tweezers might be more useful that period ones)
• Non-latex Health Care Gloves (I prefer Nitrile; for me, they must be large, but they come in a variety of sizes)
• Pain reliever such as aspirin, Ibuprofen or acetaminophen (gear selection toward allergies of members of the expedition)
• Sunblock
• Insect Repellent or unguent if especially needed)

Contents of the kit should be kept in a period container, for example a small bentwood box or a bag of leather, linen or wool (a green bag is suggested and even required by some societies).


This is an ironic mixture of period and necessary. The whole idea is that th reenactor must be able to find items needed for everyday hygienic tasks that are period and accurate. The tools were sometimes joined together on a ring for future use.

Period and common alternatives for the tools are:

• Comb (usually bone or horn, sometimes wood; a comb was carried by virtually all people of the time)
• Earspoon (what I call a medieval Q-Tip, a metal spoon to help scoop wax out of the ear; we will not get into the use of the wax)
• Nail Pick (for cleaning under the finger nails)
• Tweezers (used for pulling out hairs but also splinters)
• Towel (can be just a piece of cloth)

There were no nail trimmers, so knives were probably used most often.

Tooth brushes and tooth paste were not introduced into Europe from China until the fifteenth or sixteenth century, but there have been suggested that people had small sticks with frayed ends that were used for brushing while the other ends were sharpened to be a sort of toothpick. This was often known as a chewstick and was sometimes made from aromatic sticks to freshen the breath. small kindling was used to polish the teeth. These sticks seem to have been temporary. Modern toothbrushes, with hog bristles as the brushes, were invented by William Addis in England around 1780.

A sort of toothpaste seems to have dated back to 5000 bce and was made of such ingredients as crushed bones and oyster shells, powdered charcoal and powdered bark.