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The textiles in the Oseberg ship

By Anne Stine Ingstad


Amongst many other discoveries the Oseberg grave chamber also contained the largest and most varied collection of textiles and textile tools that has ever been found in a single grave. It is without equal in Nordic Prehistory. The collection consists of a number of fragmented tapestries and other patternwoven blan ets of wool and linen! tablet woven braids and a large collection of cloth fragments! which come from clothing! sails or tents! rugs and so on! and in addition remains of sil fabrics and sil embroideries. [Picture shows embroidery on woolen cloth. Much enlarged]

Of textile tools were found several smaller looms! of which one appears to have been a tubular loom and two others were braid looms. There were also a number of small square tablets for tabletweaving! see ill. p. "#$.

%Illustration page 132. Collection of te tile tools. !rawing by "one #trenger]

Of spinning tools were found whorls with and without attached spindles and several loose spindles. A pair of carved wooden pieces may possibly also have been used during spinning to attach the wool to. There were also a couple of linen clubs and also a pair of iron shears! which were probably used to shear the wool off the sheep.

The whole textile material ma es up $&& catalog numbers! and when each number can comprise of one to close to a hundred fragments! it shows how extensive this collection is. 'ome of the textiles are in very bad condition and are now stiff ca es! often in several layers on top of each other. Others are surprisingly well preserved! so fresh and bright it is hard to understand that they(ve spent over "))) years in the ground.

The most interesting textiles in the collection are doubtless the tapestries. Professor *+,rn -ougen has already scientifically treated these. -is wor with the tapestries has been preliminarily published in .i ing and is in manuscript form for the fourth volume of the great wor on the Oseberg find.

-ougen starts his article in .i ing in this manner/ 0Tapestries and wood carving 1 in these two words are the starting point for the new perspectives that the Oseberg find has opened for the arts history of the vi ing age. 2e are here presented for the first and so far only time with a full selection of forms of artistry that we new existed! but could not picture! because we lac ed practically any actual materials.0 'uch as the tapestry fragments appear today! it is hard to get any real impression of them. 3any are so stiff and unclear that any attempt to analyse them is practically impossible.

[Ca$e of te tiles in many layers. It was not possible to separate them all.] It has been possible to get something from some of them. It turns out that they have been surprisingly narrow! between "4 and $# cm wide. The length can(t be determined5 but since it must be considered fairly certain that they were created on the little tubular loom of which pieces were found both in the chamber and in the fore! they may! based on the distance between the cross pieces! have been between " m and ".6 m long. 7ven though they are that narrow! these strips are still filled with a diverse richness of topic! ordered in hori8ontal rows above each other. As *+,rn -ougen has suggested! this could have been a primitive attempt at perspective.

9irst some words on the technical weaving aspect of these extraordinary tapestries. The warp! which is of wool! has on average ten threads per centimetre. The threads! which ma e up the figures! are also of wool! but between the individual figures the warpthreads are left exposed. It is unthin able that this was originally the case. Therefore we must believe there was a double weft system! one of wool which made up the motifs! and one of linen which is now gone. This is nown as brocade. The actual brocading is done in twenty different weaving patterns! of which several have an exquisite decorative effect. The outlines of each figure was mar ed by a thread of a different colour than the bac ground! and it(s wound around each warp thread 1 so called slyngesmett. *rocading is a special type of weaving technique with ornamentation of differently coloured wool yarn in different weaves and patterns. The warp can be of wool or linen and the bac ground of linen. This ind of fabric is found already in the &th century in some 'wedish graves :.alsg;rde. < and .alsg;rde 4=! and in two graves in the 'wedish .i ing merchant town *ir a at >a e 3;laren. In Norway there are fragments of this technique in three Norwegian finds! from -augen in ?olvs,y! @stfold and *o in Torvastad! ?ogaland and ABtten in -elland! ?ogaland! but above all the technique is strongly represented in the Oseberg grave(s rich collection of textiles. The colours are now faded and appear in different shades of brown and grey colour tones. Only the red colour has ept well and still has a fresh carmine colour. This colour appears so often it can appear as though it was the main colour.

["he red colour has lasted better than the other colours% li$e here in the great wagon train. "he tapestry fragment was s$etched during the e ca&ations.] These narrow cloths seem to equal the Old Norse word (refill(. Cnli e a wide rug it was a long! narrow piece and of a more costly material than the rug. In modern terminology it(s nown as a %runnerDrevle.

Tapestries from ' og and Everhogdal in 'weden :Everhogdal F1"G dated to the Hth1"$th centuries= can be considered commoner descendants of the refined tapestries manufactured at the court of the Oseberg queen. It has been suggested that the earlier examples of brocading in the braids from 7veb, and 'nartemo! which belong to the 3igration Period! could be the origin of this art.

[Interior from the '$torp farmhouse at #$ansen in #toc$holm. Photo( #$ansen.] *+,rn -ougen has placed the main emphasis on the stylistic analysis of these runners! but in another chapter of this boo I will attempt to give a religious interpretation of them! since there can be no doubt that we here have mythological material of great value.

["apestry fragment from the 'seberg ship.]

Another category of fabrics that has a lot in common with the runners as far as the weaving technique goes! is the tablet woven braids of which there are several. In these also the warp as well as the patterning is of wool! but it is clear that here also there must have been a double system of a vegetable fibre which has disappeared. *y a luc y coincidence such a braid was found in the Oseberg ship with the whole warp with 6$ tablets still attached. 'ee ill. p. "<&. Tabletweaving is a technique that can be traced far bac in the prehistoric era.

[Illustration page 1)*. "abletwea&ing as found in the gra&e.]

Another group consists of the patterned fabrics of wool and linen. These are also brocaded! in that they have a linen warp and a linen weft! but the pattern weft is made of wool. This thread is relatively coarse in comparison to the linen threads! and it was red. The red patterns in various geometrical figures must have made an effective contrast against the white linen bac ground. These fabrics were apparently used as blan ets in an unprocessed state. This is shown by some selvedges remaining on the fabrics. These generally appear as an endless spiral of fine! two1plied wool threads! which must have been wrapped around an inner core! probably of linen! which is now gone. Only in one single instance this core consisted of several fine! two1plied wool threads. -ow the attachment of the selvedge and the actual cloth was created is impossible to determine! since all the linen threads that formed the actual ground fabric have disappeared. 'ee page "&&.

%Illustration page 1**. Palmett% probably modelled after an 'riental sil$.]

In addition to the fabrics mentioned some bigger and smaller fragments of other patterned fabrics were found. One of these has a palmett1li e motif! a purely ornamental composition that appears almost classical. *+,rn -ougen suggests an imported sil fabric may have tempted one of the Oseberg weavers to copy it. 'ee ill. p. "&<. [I suspect the pictures ha&e been switched here.]

[Illustration Page 1*). Collection of te tile remains drawn during the e ca&ations.]

The silk fabrics


A collection of narrow sil strips exists. 'ome of them are shown here. 'ee ill. p. "<$. The fragments are currently under scientific treatment in 'toc holm. 9or this reason it is difficult for me to say anything about the technical side to these textiles! since I haven(t analysed them myself.

[#il$ strips% cut up for application. !rawing by #ofie +raft.] It is possible that they all come from the same piece of fabric. The strips have needlemar s on both lenghtwise sides and have originally been attached to another fabric! probably of wool. There is reason to believe that this was one of the fine! probably imported two1shed and red fabrics mentioned below. 'il fabrics are found in no less than 6) graves at the 'wedish mar et town *ir a from the .i ing age. They

appear to be of the same origin as the Norwegian! and according to Agnes Iei+er the ma+ority of the Norwegian and 'wedish sil fabrics appear to belong to the type nown as (samitum(! which was manufactured in *y8antium and the 3iddle17ast in that period. They were also cut up and found a similar use as decoration on plain1coloured pieces of clothing. One of the fragments from Oseberg has a pattern clear enough that it can be directly compared to a large sil fragment preserved in >yon.

Two-shed and four-shed fabrics of wool


This group consists of H"G fragments. 'ome of them are in very bad condition and are now forming stiff ca es! often layered on top of each other. Others can be surprisingly well preserved. The material consists of remains of fabrics in tabby! several variations of twill or four1shed! slyngvev and souma h! so1called slyngsmett. 2hile I(ve been wor ing on the scientific treatment of these textiles! I could not help but admire the women who! with their primitive tools have managed to produce textiles of such a high quality as these fragments show. I doubt that one today could! even with our modern advanced looms! ma e them any finer.

["apestry fragment with horses. ,atercolour by #ofie +raft.] In connection with his wor on older iron age textiles *+,rn -ougen once said/ 0It is possible that the technical tool! the loom! was fairly simple! but the end result can in no way be called primitive.0 The .i ing age women had a long! unbro en tradition behind them as far as textile production is concerned. -ere they had a wealth of experience handed on from mother to daughter through many generations. In our days this continuity of experience has been bro en! and we are forced to again search for much of what to the olds was obvious. The old ones new that to achieve a good result in the end product! everything had to be planned very carefully. 9rom the very beginning it had to be decided what qualities one desired from the finished cloth. The textiles in the Oseberg find show clearly that everything was planned down to the minute details! and every stage in the preparation was decisive! not the least the quality of the wool which would be used.

[-ragment of wo&en braid. .bout double si/e. ,ater colour after drawing by #ofie +raft.]

It is li ely that we in Norway as early as the *ron8e Age had a fully developed sheep industry! and that the sheep belonged to the short1tailed! goat1horned sheep breed Ovis aries palustris! which is related to our modern spel sheep. This breed had long! shiny emps and a particularly fine undercoat! which was extraordinarily well suited for woven cloth. This sheep had the characteristic that it shed the wool in large clumps! which were easy to collect. Originally perhaps this was satisfactory. *ut from the .i ing age graves we now large shears! which have been interpreted as sheep shears. There is therefore reason to believe that the wool of the Oseberg textiles was cut. This theory is supported by the fact that there is no roots on the wool fibres in the Oseberg material! and that a pair of shears were found in the grave! see ill. p. "<6.

[Illustration Page 1)0. #hears from 'seberg.]

2hen the wool was collected and had been carefully sorted! the combing could begin. Farding appears not to have been practiced in the Nordic countries before the mediaeval period. As late as the "Gth Fentury cards were considered harmful tools! as they tore up the fibres. Fombs of iron! interpreted as wool combs! occur from time to time in prehistoric female graves around the Nordic countries. These arrange the fibres to lie parallel! so that the cloth had a shiny and even surface.

The spinning was done by spindle. In the Oseberg ship was found a functional whorl of clay shale with the spindle attached. There were also several loose spindles. 2ith this primitive tool the loveliest! fine

and even threads were spun. It could not be done better today with our advanced aids. The whorl is one of the most commonly found tools in female graves of the .i ing age. This shows that spinning must have been done by virtually every single woman in our country. -owever! some will have been better than others! and that it might also have been a specialist tas is not out of the question.

2hen the threads were spun! the warping of the loom could begin. .arious circumstances ma e it clear that the Oseberg textiles must have been woven on a so1called warp1weighted loom! which simply put is an upright loom with hanging warp. At the bottom of the warp warp1weights of stone were attached to eep the warp threads under tension. The warp was created by weaving a narrow braid on a heddle or such! but the thread which was brought into the weave from one side! was brought out in a long loop or a warping frame on the other side before it returned to the weave again. A warp that is created thus will have a closed starting border on the finished cloth. 'ee ill. on page "H$ top.

[Illustration page 112 "op. .nalysis of the starting border on a four2shed fabric. !rawing( .nne #tine Ingstad.] A warp set up in this old fashion was found in a bog on the farm Tegle I Time on AJren. It(s been dated to the 3igration Period. 'ee ill. on page "H$ bottom. This extraordinary and rare find is an illustration of how the Iron Age women set up their loom.

[Illustration page 112 3ottom. ,arp with starting borders and warp weights. -ound in a bog on"egle I "ime on 45ren. -rom ca 066 ..!. Photo 7ors$ -ol$emuseum.]

The warp! the hanging threads in a loom of this old type! was always tightly spun to be able to carry the weights which held it tense. In all the fabrics mentioned here! these threads are right1spun. The hori8ontal threads are called the weft or woof. It could be either right1spun or left1spun! and it was quite often thic er and looser! and of finer wool than the warp. The threads in the warp were thereafter organised with the help of heddles! which were attached to the heddle1rods. One of the sheds was the natural shed created by itself because of the tension of the warpweights. *ecause of this warping system what we call a two1shed fabric! is in the old terms nown as a one1shed K the natural shed5 a four1shed fabric was in

the old mode nown as a three1shed K the natural shed. In the following I(ll use the modern terminology.

[8pright warp2weighted loom. Photo( 7ors$ -ol$emuseum.]

"wo2shed is the simplest and oldest of the basic weaves. It is created by the weft going over one and under one thread of the warp each time. This group comprises H" fragments. 3ost of them are fine with up to $& threads per centimetre in the tightest system! which is probably the warp! and "G in the other. The fragment with these measurements comes from a lovely red fabric! which is different from the other two1shed fabrics in that every other thread in one system :which it is can(t be determined= is thic er and every other thread thinner. This must have been done on purpose! as it has given this fabric a beautiful muslin1li e effect. The finest threads are ).# mm in both systems. The fabric was probably dyed with madder! as the colourant ali8arin was found in it. This colourant also exists in a few plants that are native to Norway! but as fine as this fabric is! and as well as this dye has ept! there is reason to believe it is an imported fabric. The fragment is sewn together with another fragment of two1shed. This was also originally red! but it is now faded. 9urther! there is information that there was a small sil 1fragment attached to the muslin1li e fragment! but it has now disappeared.

[-ragment of two2shed wool fabric. 'seberg.] There are many fragments of the faded red fabric mentioned above. These are mostly cut up into narrow strips! of which one has an oval shape and might be a nec facing.

[-abric strips of fine two2shed wool fabrics. 'seberg.] 'everal of these fragments have fine! small embroideries that have been located along the edge of seams and applications. One fragment is sewn together with a sil fabric! of which a small piece is still attached. -ere too there is small embroidery along the seam +oining the two pieces. 'ome of the fine tabby! blue fabrics have been cut up for applications! which amongst other things portray animal figures. The tabby fragments in the Oseberg material probably represents five or six different fabrics! of which three must be considered fine. Through the whole prehistoric period nown as the 3igration period :G))1 4)) AL=! tabby textiles are notable through their absence in the Nordic region! but in the years &))1<)) they begin to appear again in the graves! particularly in the 2estern region. In .i ing age they are abundant. There are several types of them. Apart from the two types mentioned already! there was also a third type! which has a ribbed effect. All these two1shed fabrics are right1spun in both systems and are characterised by their high quality. Outside the Nordic region these textiles don(t have a wide distribution! but all three fabric1types appearing in our graves appear in Ireland during the 3erovingianM.i ing age. They are common along the whole Norwegian coast during these periods! and they often appear in the graves alongside articles of angloMirish origin. In Ireland fabrics of the previously mentioned types with right1spun threadsystems are so to spea solely found. 9ourshed fabrics are rare there. It could therefore appear as though this ind of fine! two1shed fabric was an Irish specialty. This is supported by the fact that it(s particularly common in the 2estern Norwegian graves! and as mentioned along with anglo1irish articles.

Fourshed or twill
Twill is another of the basic weaves. There are several types/ the weft floating over two and under two warpthreads creates $M$ twill or so1called diagonal twill. *ecause the entrypoint is moved one thread sideways each row! diagonal lines are created in the weave. There are many fragments of this type in the Oseberg material! both coarse and fine. The finest have between "G1$< threads per cm in the tightest system and between < and $) in the other. 3any fragments are in surprisingly good condition! almost as though they(d +ust been ta en off the loom.

[-ragment of four2shed wool fabric with tubular sel&edge. 'seberg.] There are many selvedges preserved. They are tubular woven and can appear li e a fine hem. The selvedges are created by first bring the weft right out to the edge! but instead of going straight into the shed on the return path a certain number of warpthreads were s ipped! depending on how wide one wanted the selvedge. Then it was tensioned! so that the outer edge of the fabric was folded over and came to lie where the weft returned to the shed. The selvedges have some small differences! and so we now that these fragments must come from several pieces of cloth. There are so many pieces with selvedges in the material that it is li ely that the cloth hasn(t been cut! but rather used whole as blan ets.

[.nalysis of tubular sel&edge on a four2shed wool fabric. 'seberg. !rawing( .nne #tine Ingstad.] 'everal so1called starting borders are also preserved on these fragments. These borders are caused by the special way of setting up the warp! which is described on page "H).

'ome of the fragments in this group appear to come from the clothes the dead were buried in. There are some fine! blue fragments with seams! which appear to be from a gown. 2e will loo closer at this in a later chapter. There were also several fragments coming from either a tent or the ship(s sail! as there are a number of rope ends stic ing out between the layers. 'ee ill. lowest on page "H&. All in all this group of the Oseberg material shows that $M$1twill or diagonal twill was widely used.

[Illustration page 11* bottom. ,ool fabric with rope ends. "ent or sail9]

Fross twill is a variant of twill where the diagonals are bro en. A large group has this type of weave. They are for the most part found in large stiff ca es in several layers. There are also other textiles between the layers! namely the beautiful patternwoven covers of wool and linen. 2hat connection these different textiles may have had to each other I will discuss later. These textiles must also have been used as unprocessed blan ets! since there are a number of fragments of them that have selvedges! of the same type as the diagonal twills mentioned above. These fabrics have their nap raised on one or possibly both sides. There are &1< threads per cm. The warp in these blan ets is very thin and tightly right1spun. The thread of the weft is quite thic and is spun from finer wool than the warp. There are G16 threads per cm. They are loosely left1spun. In this matter the old have produced a very soft and airy blan et! which now mostly exists in stiffened ca es. *ut one fragment is still in good enough condition that we can see what the blan ets originally loo ed li e.

[.nalysis of wool fragment in cross twill. !rawing( "one #trenger. -ragment of wool fabric in cross twill with tubular sel&edge.] Frosstwills are found in Norway in only two other .i ing age finds! and it is not common in 7urope either during that time. It appears as though this weave was particularly well suited for blan ets that would have the nap raised. It is possible that these blan ets can be identified as the so1called (villosa(! fulled cloa s produced in 3ain8 in the Hth century and exported to 7ngland. These could often be very fine! and were popular as gifts sent to prominent people. 2e now that *oniface sent such a villosa to the pope in ?ome. It is also possible that our blan ets are copies of these villosa! and that they were produced in the queen(s wor shop! something indicated by the selvedges. They are identical to the selvedges that appear on the diagonal twill fabrics! which are most li ely woven locally. Tubular selvedges are only found once elsewhere in the .i ing Age Norwegian material. Outside Norway there is one example in the material from Novgorod in ?ussia! and six from the .i ing Age layers of >adoga 'tara+a. There are also selvedges of this ind found in a couple of Polish finds from the "#1"Gth centuries. There is reason to believe that tubular selvedges are a Norwegian specialty of the .i ing age! but that here also they were rare. 7ven stranger then that there are so many of them in the Oseberg material. Perhaps it is because this material must have contained so many blan ets! which required a solid selvedge. There are also five fragments of another fabric woven in cross twill in this material. It has a few more threads per cm in the respective thread systems! and the wool is very soft and fine. The fabric was probably originally white! but is now miscoloured by a red fabric that must have been lying in close contact with it. This is probably an imported fabric! as it has a very exclusive appearance.

[-ragment of rug in cross twill with sewn2on string.]

!iamond twill is twill which turns sharply in both warp and weft! forming a rhomboid pattern. There are three different groups with this patterning in the material. The finest fabric has 4)14$ threads per cm in the finest system and $) in the other. In other words there is a significant difference between the threadcounts in the respective systems. The finer the fabric is! the greater the difference. It is li ely that the tightest of the systems is the warp. This particular fabric was made from red mohair. The fabric is

very soft and shiny and reminiscent of sil .

[Illustration on page 266. -ragments of wool fabric in diamond twill. "he fabric is made from mohair.] Another fabric in this type of weave has #) threads in the tighter system and $) in the other. It somewhat more closed than the previous one! but was also originally red. The third fabric of this type has $) threads per cm in both systems. It is significantly coarser than the other two and was originally dyed blue with woad. It is probably homemade. It has a preserved starting border! something that shows it was woven on a warp1weighted loom. There can on the other hand be little doubt that the other two fabrics were imported. Ali8arin has been found in them! and they were probably dyed with madder.

%Analysis of the woolen fabric in the picture on page $)).D

The imported group of these textiles! which amongst other things is characteri8ed by a large difference in threadcount in warp and weft! has a standardised appearance of on average a threadcount of $)M")! but a few other counts also exist. This notable standardisation has given scientists reason to believe that the textiles were produced in professional artisan environments somewhere abroad. The 7ast has been suggested. All these diamond twill fabrics have right1spun yarn in both systems. The type has been given the name (*ir a type(! as it appears in more than G) graves in the .i ing age trading town of *ir a in 'weden. Another widespread group of diamond twill textiles has left1spun yarn in one system and right1 spun yarn in the other. The type that interests us here is the *ir a type. The oldest examples of if are found in the *altic areas 1 *ornholm! ' Bne! Cppland and Iotland. The oldest are from the &th century! the rest from the <th. 9rom this century we also now six norwegian finds! of which four come from Overhalla in Nord1Tr,ndelag!

one from 'ogn og 9+ordane and one from -ordaland. In the .i ing age these textiles become more widespread. In 'weden there(s a strong concentration to *ir a! in Norway they are particularly common in Trondelag and on the 2est Foast! and in the .i ing age trading town of Naupang :' iringsal1 Naupangen= in .estfold. Fharacteristic of this distribution is that they are found on or nearby places where there must have been trading! places that in the 3iddle Ages grew into mar et town or cities. As a rule the *ir a type occurs in graves with a noble appearance! characterised by rich imported goods! rich +ewellery! needle cases! and itchen1 and weaving implements. The male burials are often characterised by rich weaponry! and there are often smith(s tools and scales. 9urther it is worth mentioning that the farms where these graves are found often have names ending in 1vang! 1heim or 1stad! which further underlines that it is the most noble farms in the area we(re tal ing about. They are centrally located! right by or near by places that grew into mar et towns in the 3iddle ages. This suggests that these places had a trading role already in the .i ing age. *ased on such associations I find it reasonable to believe that the textiles in question must have been traded. Audging from the distribution of finds in Norway it appears that the oldest finds! such as the four from Overhalla in Nord1Tr,ndelag! must have entered this area from 'weden. In the century before the .i ing age Overhalla was one of the most important entrypoints to Tr,ndelag for 'wedish influences. In the .i ing age the distribution of the finds is more even through the county! but it(s strongly concentrated at the end of the dales which lead to A;mtland. -ere the 'tors+, area! which is considered to have been settled from central 'weden! may have been the trading centre which distributed goods from the 3;lar area and *ir a to Tr,ndelag! and vice versa. In the .estland there is also a concentration of these diamond twill textiles at the end of the mountain passes! especially those with a connection to the various valley routes of the Iudbrand valley. This seems to suggest that these textiles were carried across the passes and down to the .estland. 2hen they appear to come through the Iudbrand valley! it is easy to believe they were carried the long way through central 'weden and into Norway where the Norsvinger trac now enters. The +ourney continued across 'ol,r and onto 3+,sa! then by boat across 3+,sa and up through the various routes through the Iudbrand valley and down to the .estland. The only find of this type of textiles in the central country is from the lands of the TrBstad farm close to Nongsvinger. 9rom very early times the Ilomma ferry landed here. This textile fragment then seems to mar where these fabrics entered the eastern parts! @stlandet. 2hen there are no other finds li e it in the whole @stland area! this could be due to a different ind of burial practice that did not leave textile remains in the graves. There are many uncertainties here. The total lac of this type of find here has indeed been the main argument for these fine textiles being produced on the .estland! since the most of them are found there. 'ome of them must undoubtedly have been woven as copies of imported textiles! but there is really little doubt that the finest of them were imported to Norway. It is probably *ir a that was the transit point for these textiles. There is little li elihood they were produced in 'weden. 7verything suggests they were originally from the 7ast somewhere! where similar textiles much have been produced long before they began appearing in Nordic graves. There are extraordinarily fine diamond twills in graves in Palmyra in 'yria and in AntinoO in 7gypt that are from the Gth century. These are much finer than those found in our graves! but they all share the same characteristics with our textiles. That there is a connection here must be considered without a doubt.

:erringbone twill is another variant of twill. It is closely related to the diamond twill and is characterised by the regular turn of the diagonal in the direction of the warp or the weft! forming a (fish1bone( pattern. This type is rarer in Norway than the previous! but since these are very small fragments it can often be difficult to tell the difference between herringbone twill and diamond twill. In the Oseberg material there is a fragment of this type which has #) threads per cm in one and "G in the other system. The threads are right1spun in both systems.

[.nalysis of wool fragment in herringbone twill. !rawing( "one #trenger.]

#lyng&e& is the name of a weave where two or more warpthreads wind themselves around each other and are ad+usted in the shed. In the Oseberg material there are some few wool fragments of this type. The fabric was probably originally white! but is now greyMbeige. The type is related to the so1called (Farelian lace( but I have not been able to find any good similes to our example. 'ee Ill on the next page.

[-ragment of wool fabric in #lynge&e&% and analysis of the same fabric. !rawing( "one #trenger.]

#ouma$h or ;#lyngesmett; is a technique that is relatively little nown in the Nordic area. The weaving is done through winding a weft thread around each warpthread in a way similar to stoc ingstitch. They are then ad+usted through the next row. A fabric produced in this way is similar to a tabby with a ribbed effect. It(s nown as Oriental 'ouma h. In our material there are some rather small fragments of this technique. A' the warp threads in this case were of wool! it was possible to analyse the piece. In other instances the warp threads must have been made of a vegetable fibre! since there are now only remains of threadspirals left. People from the Faucasus and nearby areas used the technique in more recent times for fabrics that were sub+ect to heavy wear and tear! such as saddle gear. This might mean that our fragment comes from an imported fabric! possibly a beltP *ut then it shouldn(t be that hard to copy it either.

Fabrics of vegetable fibres


In the Oseberg find this type of fabric is now completely destroyed! but it is clear that they must once have comprised a large part of it. A few fabrics have been associated with down and has left blac mar s on feathers! for example one from a slyngvev! the mate of the one in wool discussed previously.

[Impression on down of a &egetable fibre fabric in slyng&e&.] Another fabric was a tabby. It had H1") threads per cm in both systems. The vegetable material in both these fabrics was linen! according to A. 3. ?osenquist. Apart from the mentioned impressions some blac ca es can be observed on other textiles. These are possibly the remains of deteriorated vegetable fabrics of linen or nettle. There was a flaxseed in a box in the fore of the ship along with some cress seed. This might suggest that flax was grown on the Oseberg queen(s farm. It could also come from a flax plant that grew among the cress! since these two plants often appear together in the fields. *ut there is still much to suggest that flax may have been grown on the farm. 9lax is an ancient cultivar! which must have been grown early on in Norway also! as is attested by placenames.

!broideries and sea!s


7mbroideries occur on two1three fragments of the tabby! which once was red. They were quite tiny motifs executed in sil and wool or +ust wool. They appear to have been sewn on the edges of seams or appliqued sil 1 or wool fragment. The embroideries are executed in different techniques. They might be stemstitch and bac stitch! in some cases they consist of several threads wrapped around each other. One small motif was found on the edge of a sil fabric. It represents five rings and are reminiscent of the (olympic rings(.

[.nalysis of embroidery. !rawing( "one #trenger.] The embroidery is done in two1ply woolen thread! and it was done by two threads! one forming the base or core for another thread wound around it. This type of small embroidery is nown from the graves in *ir a! and there too it is placed along the edges of seams and applications.

%<mbroidery on wool. 'seberg.] 7mbroidery of a different ind than the one mentioned above occurs on a sil strip. It can barely be seen through a crac in a textile ca e. It has not been possible to underta e an analysis of the embroidery! but it could be a chain stitch that appears to have decorated the sil strip lengthwise. In a class of their own are two pretty embroideries done in sil . On one fragment there are two rings with an animal in each of them. Originally there were many rings in a row. 'uch ring patterns are nown from the classical art where they often occur on sil fabrics. The embroidery is executed in different stitches with sil thread. 'ee the illustration on page "&H! top.

[Illustration page 1*1 top. ,atercolour of sil$ embroidery.] The other embroidery is probably a plant motif executed in sil thread! mostly in stemstitch that covers the entire surface. 'ee ill on page "<)! These embroideries are believed to be imported from the *ritish Isles.

[Illustration page 1)6. ,atercolour of sil$ embroidery. Much enlarged. .fter drawing by #ofie +raft.] 'mall seams occur in a few places! both as repairs of tears or on fragments of fabrics sewn together. Amongst others! two blue twills were each sewn together with a piece of diamond twill :see the picture above= in such a manner that one fabric overlays the other.

[-ragment of diamond twill and another twill sewn together.] This suggests that the sewing abilities were not level with the weaving arts! as the stitches are clumsy and aw ward. 9inally some small applications in the blue tabby should be mentioned. 'everal of them represent animal figures! but they are also clumsily done.

Felt
There are two fragments of felted wool in the material. The pieces are no more than $ mm thic ! and it(s doubtful if they can really be called felt. It is hard to imagine what these thin fla es could have been used for. It is possible that wool was worn in the shoes! and that due to heat and sweat the wool turned into felt. Otherwise it(s hard to imagine what practical use they could have been.

"eather
One catalog number consists of four lumps and one small fragment of leather. The largest lump measures H.6 x ".6 cm. To one of them a thin string is attached which is made up of five right1spun wool threads. They are now dar brown. Inside the lump there is a small space! which hid a seed which through analysis was shown to be hemp! :Fannabis sativa=. This was probably a pouch with seed in it! which one of the women wore around her nec ! or it might have been placed somewhere on her body. There were also found four seeds of Fannabis sativa among the bedding. These could originally have come from this pouch.

Fulling
9ulling is a ind of after1treatment of fabric. 2ith a thistle or carder or some other tool a nap of loose fibre ends was raised on the surface of the fabric. This type of after treatment was done on the A1group of textiles in our material! the light blan ets with tubular selvedges.

#yeing
The finest of the tabbies were dyed after they were woven. This is easy to establish! as the colour is lighter where the threads cross each other! but also inside the threads. 2e don(t now if it was common to dye whole pieces of cloth in the Nordic areas during the .i ing age! or if we should see the examples of this technique in our material as an indication that these fabrics were imported. 'ince it is some of the finest fabrics in the whole material and additionally dyed red! the latter is li ely. It appears as though red dye was an 7nglish speciality. In a mar et roll from 't. Lenis from the beginning of the <th century it is mentioned that people came across the sea to buy wine! honey and madder.

The Tapestries

9emale figure and horse. Lrawn by 'ofie Nraft.

The wagon train. Lrawn by 'ofie Nraft.

The wagon train $. Lrawn by 'ofie Nraft.

The sacred grove. Lrawn by 'ofie Nraft.

*attle scene. Lrawn by 'ofie Nraft.

-orse and woman in the shape of a carrion bird in front of a house with dragons( heads on the gables. Lrawn by 'ofie Nraft.

'pear carriers outside two small houses with dragons( heads on the gables. Lrawn by 'ofie Nraft.

0Quay0 with raised spears. A ship is drawing alongside. Lrawn by 'ofie Nraft.

Fovered cart with dragons( heads. A woman wal s in front of it. Lrawn by 'ofie Nraft