women's belts?

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women's belts?

Inläggav Evalill » 6 februari 2007, 15:42

Hi everyone.
This is my first post here. [8)] I regret so much I don't know Swedish, but maybe, someday, I will learn. :)
Sorry for any errors, as I am from Poland. ;)

I wonder last time, whever any woman' belt was found [?]
I have found an information about one woman grave with belt backle and strap-end, in Scotland. here's the link :
(first photo)

Also I have read, that Hedeby suspended overdress has some signs of being worn with a belt (I mean hole at waistline).
And I think belts are very practical... Not only becouse of this one can hangs many things on belts, but also becouse of warm. Hope you now what I mean.

Could you, please, help me with this subject?

P.S. Is there already English-version of web-site telling about historical clothing?

Many greetings from Poland,
Evalill - Gracjana.
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Inläggav MBN » 10 februari 2007, 13:35

I am afraid i can not tell you where any woman's belt has been found, but i know this: a needle house, of wood, bone or horn, was rather common for women to have hanging from the belt, therefor they must have had belts...

The holes at the waistline would probably indicate that the woman had her belt under the overdress, and therefore would need the hole/holes to reach for her pouch and other things hanging from the belt. this was a good way to avoid being bereft of one's money at the marketplace, since the strings of a pouch hanging outside the overdress would be far easier cut off.
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Inläggav Vix Hq » 10 februari 2007, 15:22

The "holes" at the waistline on the Hedeby fragment are not pocket slits - the fabric is actually worn as if a belt or something like that had been grating against the material (see [url="http://homepage.ntlworld.com/shelagh.lewins/shelagh/viking_textiles/hedeby_apron/hedeby_apron.htm"]this web page[/url]for more info!)!

Vix Hq
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Inläggav MBN » 10 februari 2007, 22:32

Ah, OK, I missunderstood. There are sources however on dresses with slits, so that is why I asumed that was what Evalill meant...
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Inläggav guthroth » 18 mars 2007, 10:53


<blockquote id="quote"><font size="1" face="Verdana, Arial, Helvetica" id="quote">quote:<hr height="1" noshade id="quote"><i>Originally posted by MBN</i>

I am afraid i can not tell you where any woman's belt has been found, but i know this: a needle house, of wood, bone or horn, was rather common for women to have hanging from the belt, therefor they must have had belts...<hr height="1" noshade id="quote"></blockquote id="quote"></font id="quote">

Can you tell me where the evidence for womens belts comes from please ?

A find in a grave at hip level or lower is not proof of a belt. The needle case could have been in a shoulder bag, or have hung from a pennanular-type brooch and moved during decomposition

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Inläggav karin c » 7 juni 2007, 09:14

One of my viking-friends showed me a picture of a bronce-belt-buckle faund ind a womans grave. I think it is faund recently, but I don´t remember where - I am shure it was Skandinavia.
Karin C
karin c
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Inläggav Mataleena » 27 juni 2007, 20:50

Hello! This is my first post, I joined mostly because I think I have some answers. There is some hard evidence about womens´ belts from late iron age Finland.
Unfortunately no actual belts have been found here either. Finnish soil is quite PH-acidic (as opposite to alcaline, or neutral), so organic matter does not preserve well. But a special type of knife has been found from two graves (at least) of very wealthy women. The sheath is designed to be carried horizontally, clearly on a belt. (There have also been remains of tablet-woven bands around the waistline, I think. At least they reconstructured everything that was actually found from the graves, no more or less.)
Reconstruction of the Eura dress, also worn by President Tarja Halonen at the Finnish Independence Day banquet in 2001:
http://www.kaspaikka.fi/savonlinna/muin ... t/eura.htm
(Note the closeup of the bronze knife sheath. The coins in the necklace give the time period between years 1018 and 1050.)
A drawing of the Kaarina dress (I couldn´t find a better picture, sorry):
(Again, note the knife. A grave of a young woman, from around 1025.)
A picture of an viking era dress reconstruction in the Turku castle museum:

And, of cource, the bronze-spiral decorated aprons couldn´t have been worn without belts. The woven-in decorations do not indicate strings like in modern aprons.
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Inläggav Halla » 14 augusti 2007, 13:52

So true with the ancient Finnish and Baltic costumes, but I think the question is about "skandinavian viking" dress. The Hedeby dress gives some hints of the belt, but was the possible belt a woven one or maybe a leather belt with strap-end and a buckle, we never know. Belt buckles are a rare find in woman graves, seems that in Finnish costumes belts were woven, without a buckle. And some aprons here did have strings or beltparts as a part of the apron itself, so separate belt was not needed.

But back to the buckles, any exact data of ones in viking woman graves?
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Inläggav Evalill » 27 mars 2008, 15:56

Thanks for all answers.
Last summer I decided not to wear a belt and it's fine - well sewn "apron dress", well attached tortoise brooches and everything works good. :)
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Inläggav quokkaqueen » 22 januari 2010, 00:05

This is terribly late, but maybe this list would help:

The majority of belt buckles and strap ends come from Norwegian-Celtic influenced areas. However, most of these buckles were found in the 19th century before there was very detailed archaeological reports.

The most recent find I have read about, is from Cumwhitton in Cumbria, England. Although that is just one line on this webpage from Oxford Archaeology: http://thehumanjourney.net/html_pages/m ... /index.htm (look for grave sk 27).

Also about five years ago, a piece of metal in a grave from Kroppur, Iceland was re-classified as being a strap-end. However, she was buried without tortoise brooches.
See: http://uri.academia.edu/MicheleHayeurSm ... g-the-dead page 9 of the PDF.
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Inläggav Edvin » 22 januari 2010, 15:12

Interesting reading for sure! However, there is quite few instances when deposition in graves are of a another type than what would be used in life. Many of the larger weapon-knifes found on Gotland for example do not have any suspension and are clearly put in the grave at the time of the burial.

I have not come across a female grave with either a beltbuckle or a strapend. For me, that indicate that belts in female graves (and on female burial-clothes) are very rare.
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Inläggav quokkaqueen » 23 januari 2010, 02:29

Sorry, I had linked to the wrong page about the Cumwhitton burial:
http://thehumanjourney.net/html_pages/m ... ndepth.htm
Apparently the publication about the burial isn't due to be published for a few more years. :(

I would lean towards the idea that belts may have been worn in life by a particular group of Viking-age women- those with some sort of relationship with Scotland. So I agree it would be exceedingly rare to wear a belt with buckle and/or strap end, but not unheard of.
The other issue, is that it is hard to tell if the strap end or buckle were placed in the grave, or were part of something else that wasn't a belt, simply because early archaeologists didn't seem to write that information down.

The buckle mentioned in the first post (from Cnip) is this one:
http://nms.scran.ac.uk/database/record. ... -082-978-C
And here's the article describing the find, and that the buckle was found 'across the lower left ribcage' (p.152):
http://ads.ahds.ac.uk/catalogue/adsdata ... 49_174.pdf
With the exception of a grave from Peel (in between Scotland and Ireland), which included a waist-height buckle, but no tortoise brooches, there really isn't enough information to say for certain if these belts were being worn.

Apparently there were single strap ends found in some female Birka graves, but I do not have access to the book Birka I, so have not been able to double-check if they were burials or cremations.
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