Hats -do’s and don’ts

In the olden days everyone wore hats! A man would not show his face outside hatless.  This is an often repeated “fact” one hear about the medieval times.

Except that it is not true.

In this article I will look a little on the lid. How it looks in sources, and how it does not look. I will make my pardons before hand, as i will point at some things that i see reenactors commonly do. Those that does, will feel that I am attacking them personally, but I am not. You are totally free to do as you like with your hatting, but I have chosen this way to share my theories. Once they are out there you can take them or leave them as you please. I will paint with a broad brush here. Talking about generals. You can always find an exception. And that’s good. Exceptions needs reenactor love to. As always the article mostly looks at later 14th century as this is our main focus.

So lets start with issue nr one, and work our way down my peeve list.

Hat or no hat

When you look at pictures, lets say pictures of hunters, just to keep with the subject of the blog. Hunters are mostly outdoors, and they are doing outdoorsy stuff. Ergo, this is a situation where you, as a man, would have used a hat. Just to be decent. But, if you look at pictures, at least half of them, sometimes even more, are having no hat, or hood. This is also a trend in other, non hunting, manuscripts. So, going around hatless (and i mean bare haired, not with a coif) is totally ok in most cases. I do that at times, just to even out the numbers of hat vs. no hats.hunting badger



Feathers in the hat


Feathers in the hat is way over represented in medieval reenacting. We

are not fully sure what a feather in the hat means, if it means something. Perhaps it is just there to be pretty. There are some indications that they might denote someone that is charge of something. Like a symbol of authority. 

Preferred feathers seems to be imported FAF8AE86-C217-47C0-AEE9-80F7C492E0D3ones. Ostrich, parrot, peacock

and other rare and exotic feathers was shipped around and dyed.

When looking at the placement of these feathers they are almost exclusively placed at front center of the hat. In a few cases in the back center. Placing at the side of the hat is virtually never seen (at least in comparison to front center).  The feather was in most

cases placed in a fancy featherholder.



Badges and decorations

Reenactors love their badges. The more pornographic the better.
These ‘carnival badges’ are a conundrum. We know they existed and was fairly popular due to the amount of them we find.  We have no real idea of how they where worn though. Some believe they are temporary badges. Made and sold for an event and then thrown away. Like.. a Carnival.  They are not shown in illuminations and not mentioned in texts. And one place they are never seen… is on hats.

The only badges seen on hats are on pilgrims on an active pilgrimage. If you Reenact one of those, you are spot on to sport a couple of badges you have proudly earned (in our group you are not allowed to wear the pilgrimbadge unless you have made the pilgrimage and heard mass there, but that is just our own rules) .

If you are not reenacting a pilgrim.. well, let me ask you this: Have you seen a hat with badges on in those cases?

445BCC9A-9583-43FD-BFC5-86200D83F6DA4F62FDA5-EC90-40C7-9AD7-F4B9382E33C4There are some decorative ‘badges’ in hats though. These are not the tin penis kind, but more jewelry like brooches with pearls and gold. Sported by the rich to show off (and to look pretty).


Gothic Cast makes lovely brooches that fits upscale hats, if you like to get one.




7D7B3950-FEFD-41A4-B1E6-DCB3EC9C1A4DThere are several pictures of what seems to be embroidery on hats. These are mostly lines, straight and wavy and circles and dots. This is rarely seen on reenactors, so there you have a niche you can fill!

Another kind of embroidery is applications and/or intarsia embroidery. They seem less common but you can see them at times.
intarsiaAllegory of Winter. Ambrogio Lorenzetti. Siena. Circa 1338-1340.italienskl

  • I am adding a little disclaimer here.
    There are some discussion that the above hats show depictions of fur. This might very well be true. The reason we have chosen to believe that this is not the case in these cases is that Lorenzetti has a very naturalistic way of painting and that fur is mostly depicted ‘as is’ in his works. This is more reminiscent of stylised fur, like you might see in a simpler rendition,like say the Manesse codex. So, it does not fit the style of painting to have a stylized fur in these pictures….but it certainly is possible.



The coif

The coif, that i like to see as the underwear of the head, is hardly ever seen after the mid of 14th century. If it is, it is mostly on antiquated gentlemen that are stuck in the fashion of their youth… When they are used, their bands are tied. Unless you are Dante Alighieri. Are you Dante Alighieri ? (and that painting was painted more than 150 years later… what did they know about coifs!)

These… are my thoughts about hats. The fancy hat has spoken.


Like hats?
Check out this article about a very well preserved 14th century swedish hat.
Also, dont miss THIS article about knitted hats in 14th century

The wolfhunt

20170304_150616 Hunting wolf in 14th century was mostly considered something you had to do. Pestcontrol. The wolf was not considered a noble animal, and its by-name (Noanamn) in swedish was ‘varg’ who’s original meaning was thief, or a generally bad person (a ‘Kasevarg’ was an arsonist). By-names was used for creatures that was feared, as using its real name supposedly would make it take notice and come to your farm and you wanted to avoid that. Hence, it is called ‘varg’ (thief) instead of its real name, Ulv. These days it is generally known as varg (better not take any chances still, eh?).

‘Being hanged with wolves’ was a shameful way to be executed where you were hanged on the same gibbet as wolfs.

Edwards has some things to say about the wolf in his Master of game.

..and evil they be and strong, for some- 
times a wolf will slay a cow or a mare and he 
hath great strength in his mouth. Sometime he 
will bear in his mouth a goat or a sheep or a 
young hog and not touch the ground (with it), 
and shall run so fast with it that unless mastiffs 
or men on horseback happen to run before him 
neither the shepherds nor no other man on foot 
will ever overtake him. They live on all manner 
of flesh and on all carrion and all kinds of vermin. 
And they live not long for they live not more 
than thirteen or fourteen years. Their biting is 
 evil and venomous on account of the toads and 
other vermin that they eat.

So, hunting wolf is not considered a noble hunt, but more a hunt out of necessity. Therefor there was no rules to the hunt, they could be hunted with nets, traps, poison, dogs, spikes in meat, or, if you liked, par force.  According to the Book of St. Albans, the wolf was hunted from the Nativity of the Virgin Mary (September 8) to the Annunciation (March 25), making this a winterhunt.

On the other hand. In his treaty of hunting from 1330, Twiti states the wolf as one of the few animals that you blow the Meneé for, and both the male and the female wolf to boot! This duality in looking at the wolf is probably because it is a difficult animal to hunt par force, i deserves rescpet for being hard to hubnt, even if it is considered pestcontrol. The meneé is of course only blown when the wolf is hunted par force.


Wolf, hunted par force.

Men take them beyond the sea with hounds and greyhounds 
with nets and with cords, but when he is taken 
in nets or cords he cutteth them wonderfully fast 
with his teeth unless men get quickly to him to 
slay him. Also men take them within pits and 
with needles and with haussepieds or with veno- 
mous powders that men give them in flesh, and 
in many other manners.

Haussepieds, as mentioned above, a type of snare that lifts the prey from the ground.


The traps depicted are often quite elaborate, which stands in opposition to some hunters saying that wolves do not return to a place where men have baited.

When men lay trains to acharne (with flesh) so as to take 
them, they will rarely come again to the place 
where men have put the flesh, especially old 
wolves, leastways not the first time that they 
should eat. But if they have eaten two or three 
times, and they are assured that no one will do 
them harm, then sometimes they will abide

c66_616 c65_616 The traps shown are ones that are recommended in huntbooks though, the ones above being from Livre de chasse.

c67_616Netting was a preferred way, in Swedish lawbooks the farmers were supposed to have a certain length of wolfnets prepared and was obliged to partake in wolfhunts when ordered to by the king or his appointed local men. The farmers then connected each length to each other making the whole parish combined wolfnet.

Getting geared


20170304_153640As said before, the wolfhunt was a winterhunt, and when hunting in wintertime, grey clothing was preferred (as we have taken a look at here). Probably due to its camouflaging factors. In the pictorial evidence, in  most wolfhunts they are wearing other clothes than grey, but… people did as they pleased even then.

The other clothes I used during this little outing was green, as this is the preferred colour during summer. The good old bycocket hat, as seems very popular amongst hunters, also got to be taken out for a little ride.

More on hunters clothing in general can be read here .

The dog


Not all dogs was suitable for wolfhunting. The wolf is a fast animal, and will outrun most dogs. And also uses hiding as a way to escape.

he is long hunted with running hounds he fleeth 
but little from them, but if the greyhounds or 
other hounds press him, he fleeth all the covert
as a boar does and commonly he runs by the high 

the wolf also measures the mettle of the dogs set on him, and if they are not courageous enough it will scarcely bother about them. This gave rise to special woulfhoundbreeds of greyhounds.

When men let run greyhounds at a wolf he turns to look at them, and 
when he seeth them he knoweth which will take him, and then he 
hasteneth to go while he can, and if they be greyhounds which dare 
not take him, the wolf knows at once, and then he will not hasten 
at his first going.

Wolfhounds have been known to be able to single-handedly take down a wolf. Usually by running just as fast and tackle them. Then keeping them at bay by fast attacks to the abdomen. But being tackled by a 75 kilo dog and going down in speeds around 60 km/h is rather a tumbling experience in it self.

The wolfcollarThe spiked wolfcollar is iconic and has been in use for a long time. There are several depictions of it from medieval times, and also a preserved Viking age spiked collar from Uppland, Sweden, that we wrote about here. 20170304_153545The purpose of this spiked collar is to prevent the wolf from getting its jaws around the neck of the hound to bite it. The added bell makes it easier to follow the dogs movements in dense terrain. The spikes does not have to be overly sharp as they will do their job just as well by just being there.


20170304_153837This wolfhunter carries a javelin and a sword. The sword in this case being of the Falchion type.

20170304_152157The javelin had, by the 14th century, mostly been reduced to a huntingweapon. As such it is fairly common it seems and it is almost always carried in wolfhunts. The head of the javelins are most often leafshaped and very few have barbs, as one might have expected them to have. I am not sure why this is the case, a javelin that sticks to its target would be better in slowing a target, but it is possible that reuse of the javelin was considered, as it could be picked up and thrown again. To get more information about our thoughts on the javelin, i recomend you to read this.

The sword was carried as the main means to kill the prey. After the dogs had catched it, it was killed, and this, the ‘Mort’ was almost always delivered with a sword. Armingswords, long Basilardas, and also falchions are seen brought into the hunt. Stabbing swords are more useful with killing animals, so I am not sure what the falchion, being mainly a cutting weapon, would be good for. but… there it is. falchion

The hanging of most swords, and therefore also the falchion, in later 14th century is often very simple. A loop from the scabbard that goes around the belt.20170304_153513

Horn and leash.


The horn is of course carried as it is the main means of communications during hunts. The Mort is also blown when the beast is killed. It seems it was considered worthy of such honour.
leash on hornThe leash is sometimes seen as carried on the horn when not in use. It is suspended from the crossknot of the hornbaldric. 20170304_153423

The quotes above is all taken from ‘The master of game’, by Edward of Norwich, and the pictures from ‘Livre de chasse’ by Gaston Phoebus. Both BF and Morgan version is used. 20170304_151117

The hunt

After all this time it seems that we need to talk about the actual hunt.

There where many ways to hunt during the medieval times… just like there is now. The one that mostly concerned the huntbooks and its intended audience was the hunt Par force, but other types of hunting was popular and prevalent. We will have cursory look at them.

Many ways of hunting


queen-marys-psalterThere where many ways of hunting in the medieval times. The one we most Think about, where a hunter stalks his prey with his trusty dog companion, was called the bercletti. Our sources don’t talk much about this hunt but mentions some breeds that are good for this kind of hunt and that it is preferable to wear green clothes and even paint your bow green.

Phoebus recommended that bows be made of boxwood or yew and twenty hands long (over three feet). They were to be strung with silk, which was more elastic than hemp. Arrows were to be eight hands long, and the double-edged and barbed head five fingers long and four wide. A hunter stalking for game was always to have his bow ready and partly drawn in order to avoid a quick motion. The arrow was to pierce the animal’s breast.



c60_616Netting and trapping was of course also popular, especially amongst bisshunters (those that hunter for fur). It was considered a lowly form of hunting. Edward of york will have nothing to do with it and does not mention it in his book (or, rather he mentions that he will talk about it and then skips it altogether). In King modus there is some trapping as well as in Livre de chasse. trapping and netting was something that was also considered a method for poachers. In Modus these are treated a bit ambiguously. They are of course not to be tolerated, but are even so thought of as fellow hunters of skill. It seems the romantic shimmer have Always illuminated the poacher amongst his fellow hunters.



The hunting of prey with Falcons and other birds of prey was of course a loved way of hunting. There seems to be a little animosity between ‘doghunters’ and ‘birdhunters’, (as can be read about here —>  )but many did both. The art of birdhunting is a subject for a later article (one I will need help writing), so for now, lets stay with that it was an appreciated form of hunting.

Par Force.

the great hunt, hunt par force. This is what takes up most of the huntbooks. This is also the hunt we will look a bit closer upon.

The stages of the hunt par force

The legwork

It all starts the day Before the hunt. The huntsmaster goes out and talk to the foresters and woodsmen. Talking to them about what kind of prey is available and where it has its overnight lay. After the lay has been located the hunter marks the trails in and out of the bushes (the lay is usually in thickets). When the markings are out the hunter returns home for the night.

The brunch

c38_616The day of the actual hunt the whole huntingparty sets out. This is usually a big affair with noblemen hunting, different kind of dogkeepers, stableboys and different kind of specialists. Most of the hunters assembled in a sort of huntingbrunch called ‘the gathering’ (something we reenact each year on st. Eustace day). Whilst they were assembled at the gathering the hunter set out to the lay he had marked the day before.

At the lay he does two things.
He cuts a small stick the size of the hoofprints at the site.
He also collects ‘fumes’ (that is a more fancy word for poop, my friends), that he puts in his horn and secures with some grass.

After this he returns to the gathering.

poopshowingThere all the hunters that has been out to different lays shows their fumes and sticks to the huntsmaster who then evaluates the fumes and the sticks, thereby judging the animal’s size and how much ‘in fat’ it is. If we look more carefully at the picture above, From Gaston Phoebus ‘livre de chasse’ we can see how the fumes are being inspected at the high table by Gaston himself.

He then proceeds to decide which of the animals they are going to hunt that day.

This is the only animal that they are hunting. They can not change prey during the hunt.

The hunt commences

When the animal is chosen the hunters move out to their places and prepare for the hunt par force. Three relays of three greyhounds each it positioned along a route. Raches, packhounds, are readied to be released. At least 12, preferably 24 or more is the recommended size of the pack. “The more hounds, the merrier music they make” , Edward of Norwich states.

10513429_10152160197552765_2504682716337842305_nA special trackingdog, the lymer, is brought forward. This dog is used to find and move the prey.  It was called a “lymer” (or limer) because it was always kept on a line (lyme).  As soon as the game is moved, the signal for ‘the game is afoot” is sounded and the raches is let loose after it.
It is recommended that the Lymer is brought along behind the raches to easier find the game if it is lost.

The raches are to chase the game and the hunters to follow on horseback, not wholly dissimilar to an English foxhunt. Bows are not used, but sometimes swords and javelins. It seems that the main use for these where to wound the animal to slow it, making it loose stamina and also make the trail it leaves clearer to the dogs. vildsvinsjakt4

If the game was lost the hunt stopped and the lymer brought up to find and move it again, and the hunt continued. If the game startled another animal, the dogs where not supposed to take this, but stay true on the decided animal.

c47_616Huntinghorns were used to communicate during the hunt so all concerned would be able to keep up as to what was happening.  ”the game is afoot”, ”the dogs follow the game straight” (parfait), ”the dogs have lost the game” where some of the signals used during the hunt. Most hunters, doghandlers (Berners, or valet de chiens) and other had horns and were supposed to repeat all signals. Thereby both showing they had heard it, and also signalling along to others further up.

Release the hounds!

As the hunt drew past a relay of greyhounds (greyhounds was a collective term for all sighthounds) they were let loose, or ”slipped” on the game. It the greyhounds where always slipped AFTER the prey had past, never before. Greyhounds run fast (around 65 Km/h for a good one) but not very far. They are sprinters. If one relay did not catch the prey the next one it passed was released.kvinna-jagar


The end of the hunt

At some point (well… at the end actually) one of the greyhounds would pull the game down. They where not supposed to kill it though and the dogs were pulled of, or beaten with sticks so they left the animal alone, and a hunter killed it with a sword or dagger, and in some cases a spear. The Mort was then sounded on the horn (unless it was a female animal for whom the mort was not sounded) to denote that the prey had been killed.


After this the animal was skinned and disemboweled. The dogs got their fair share of the animal and everyone went home to share huntingstories.Another rather complicated note was played on the horns on the hunters return.

Other hunting

other speciality hunt was also practised, for example Otterhuntingutterjakt

And coursing, mostly for hare and rabbit




Conclusion and further reading

This has been a very short summary of some the medieval hunting. For some more reading of certain aspects of it you can read about the different types of dogs here

How hunters dressed; here

More about the hunt books, and who wrote them here

Something about javelins in hunting, with a little film; here

More about women in hunting, here

So, Finally we covered at least the basics of the medieval hunting…





Viking age dogcollar and chain

Out of focus

As you might know this blog generally deals with 14th century, but today we will move out of focus a bit. Vikingage is not even considered being part of the medieval age in Sweden, but as the rest of the world considers it a part it will be covered now as we want to put some light on dogequipment from Uppland.

Viking gravefinds

In Uppland, Sweden, old-time religion lasted longer. This also means that norse burial traditions also lasted longer. The habit of gravegifts is a heathen one. Christians generally frowned on this and christian graves have very few gravefinds. The Uppsala area was a religious hotspot, where the rulers of old lived. Great powerful people lived here and the Vendel gravefield is famous for its previking gravefinds.

We will look on two objects found in two different graves. 200 years separate them. They currently resides in Museum Gustavianum in Uppsala. A very old and venerable museum.

If this collar and chain have been used for guard or hunting dogs we do not know. A chain is seldom used for hunting, so this points toward a guard dog. The collar on the other hand might well have been used for a hunting dog.

The collar

This dogcollar was found in a viking boatgrave.That makes it the belonging of a nobleman. We know from other graves that big sighthounds was used by norse nobles in this area (several have been found in graves in Old Uppsala), So called ‘Mjöhunde’ . The collar is dated to 10th Century (900 tal).


The leather is obviously new, just to show how it would have been mounted.
The collar have metal plates, approx 3 inches Square, with pointy spikes in each corner riveting it to the leather. We can see that the leather have been rather thick, able to hold a bigger dog. The grey pad between the metal and the new leather is just to protect the old rusty iron.

It is hard to figure out how big the spikes might have been as they are all rusted down. But as spikes generally are used to protect a dog’s neck against predators getting their jaws around it, they probably have been bigger than their current stunted size. 20160130_153610

Two plates are connected with a metal link. My guess is that this has been the attachementpoint of a leash. This would possibly give the collar a semichoke character.


The guard dog chain


This chain is thought to be a dogchain and it is a bit earlier then the collar.

It is dated to 8th Century (700 tal)


There is no easy way to open or close this for attachment. Probably it was used to attach a dog to something (a house perhaps? ) and having it guard it. Or it was used with some kind of groundanchor, a short pole maybe. The chain is rather short, but dogkeeping could be quite harsh in old days.

In all honesty I am just guessing about its use. There is a swivelpoint that is quite common later in dogequipment, but the other end terminates in a ring and a plate on it… I cant really see how this is helping holding that dog to anything… but there might have been more to it that have corroded away.

In conclusion

The conclusion here is that we just wanted to show you a viking age collar as there is not that many out there and this one might be new to most.





Numble pie

This post is about pie.
One might wonder how pie fits into the medieval hunt? Or if this is just a thinly veiled attempt to sneak in some foodblogging.

Well, pie this sort of pie, allegedly, has very much to do with the medieval hunt. I will have to say allegedly as my first hand sources are shady, unprecise and uncertain. We do venture into these not to well researched topics at time.. but we try to make it clear how and why we think it is interesting.

So, pie.

Pie was a common food in the 14:th century.

Pievendor in 15:th cent

Pievendor in 15:th cent

It was a way to preserve a dish, as well as a way to serve it in a selfcontaning bowl. Streetvendors sold pie as a snack for busy townsfolk. They came in big sizes, or smaller, cupsized, but they where all made as ‘standing crust pies’. The bread of the pie was not really meant to be eaten, even if you very well can, but its main purpose is to hold the stuffing. If the pie was made as a way to preserve, fat was poured the stuffing over and made to harden.


Numble pie, a hunters pie.

Sometimes referred to as ‘Humble pie’, this was a pie made of the ‘numbles’. Numbles where the innards of the animal and was considered the right of the hunter (in the same way the head was considered the right of the Limerdog).

There is scarce mentioning about this in medieval sources though. In the 1920 edition of “master of game”, the 15th Century huntbook, they say this in the appendix.

NUMBLES. M. E. nombles, noumbles ; O. F. nombles.
The parts of a deer between the thighs, that is to say,
the liver and kidneys and entrails. Part, and sometimes
the whole of the numbles were considered the right of
the huntsman ; sometimes the huntsman only got the
kidneys, and the rest was put aside with the tit-bits re-
served for the King or chief personage (Turb., pp. 128-
129). Numbles by loss of the initial letter became
umbles (Harrison, vol. i. p. 309), and was sometimes
written numbles, whence came ” humble pie,” now only
associated with the word humble. Humble pie was a pie
made of the umbles or numbles of the deer, and formerly
at hunting feasts was set before the huntsman and his

So…. in hunterreecreation reenacting at least, this pie is common. Therefore I wanted to make one for St. Eustace day.

The pies of the middle ages where of the kind we call ‘standing crust’. This is a bit different from the modern ones we do that requires a Shell to hold it.It was the first time i tried my hand at these standing crust thingies As a guide I used Jas Townsends great tutorial. So.. if you want you can just skip to that and have a look here….

…but if you decide to hear my ramblings on it I will continue.

How I did it

The crust of these pies are not really meant to be eaten. They just hold the stuff. This means they are not made to be tasty.

The key to standing crust pies are to melt the fat and the water together.

There are several options to fat in the middle ages. Suet, Lard, Butter and perhaps oil in some areas (i have no idea if oil works in these pies though…). Suet might be a suitable option considering it is a hunters pie. Lard might be a good choice as it becomes harder and is common in middleages.

I had both lard and butter at home. At first i was tempted to go with the lard.. as this kinda feels ‘old’. But Sweden was a major producer of butter during medieval times. Even exporting it. Copper iron and butter was the base of the economy, there is even a saying: Not for all the butter in Småland,  Meaning not to any price, no matter how high.
With this in mind I thought that butter might be the logic choice…

So, into a pot goes butter and water.

As this pie was supposed to be ‘humble’ i did not want to use pure wheat flour. Especially up here wheat was hard to grow and was considered a bit of luxury quite far up in history. I opted in on a mix, mixing rye flour as this was a common crop here then. It also gave a more rough texture to the dough.

The flour and fatwater was mixed with one egg and an extra yoke (the White was needed later…). No salt or other was used. Remember, this is not supposed to be a tasty dough…


After being worked the dough was cut into three parts. these are the lid, the side and the bottom. The dough is quite pliable, resembling play-do in texture. when rolled and shaped.. it stays that way. This makes it very well suited for making decorations.



The side was made to the size that I judged convenient, in a thickness that seemed self supporting. It was then glued to the bottom using the eggwhite saved from earlier.



20150919_210010Some fitting decorations of the Eustace hart was cut and glued to the lid (using the eggwhite once again)


Now the whole contraption was to be put into the Owen to bake. I used Jas trick of pouring rice inside. Even if this is nor a medieval method I didn’t Think it would add or subtract much in correctness really. The dry rice is poured in to support the sides while baking so they don’t collapse. after the pie is baked it is poured out again. The lid was baked on the side of the crust until I thought that it looked abit like it would be ready.


When all parts where made, it was time to give the filling some thought.

I had already decided to keep it simple. I had a liver from a hart. I did not want to use what would then have been expensive Spices. So no salt or pepper. I did think thyme would be appropriate though, as this was commonly grown here. I also added an onion. I like onions.


So.. liver from deer, thyme, and some unions. Thats it. I also added an egg later on as I needed something to hold it together..or so I thought.
I actually didn’t think it would be very tasty. I was fully prepared that this was probably going to be eaten by the dogs at the actual picknick since none would stomach my unspiced liver pie.

The filling was fried up as i didnt quite know if it would get hot enough inside the pirecrust. I was thinking that if liverpie didnt sound tasty, half raw liver pie sounded even less tasty.

After the filling was in, the lid was glued on with eggwhite and into the owen it went again. For… a while, until it looked good enough.


I also decided to try and make a smaller pie 20150919_210309of the leftover dough. To make this I just moulded the crust over a glass. After this I removed the glass and made a filling of red onion, white wine and cheese. This lil feller was then put in alongside the big gamepie. This size seems to have been common especially with the street vendors. its also a good size to have along for a snack when out in the forest. the standing crust makes it easy to pack.

The pies did not fall apart, fall over, or fall in on them self, as I half feared that they would. instead they hold up just splendidly and came out looking swell. I was not sure about the taste though (I was on the small pie as I had eaten some of its filling and it was awesome!). The smaller pie had expanded slightly and had a small gap between lid and wall, but this was mostly because it was stuffed to tight and that the cheese had bubbled up and out.20150920_000254


Eating the pie

Then came the big day. The pie was hauled out and set on a blanket for the gathering of the hunters. The lid was popped with a wooden spoon and a greenish mass showed up. I ladled on a helping onto my bowl and saw the dog looking at me very hopefully. Both her and I thought that her time to feast had come.

20150920_134336But it actually tasted quite good. The taste of liver was not that strong and the thyme really lifted the dish. The Dog got to eat the bottom of the crust eventually… but by then she had stolen so much other food she barely could muster any disappointment about not getting the whole.

In conclusion

It wasn’t very hard to do, and it also did not take long. It turned out tastier then suspected and I am sure I will do it again. Small pies might well be made for snacks on our outings, but maybe not with liver.
I recommend making this pie for your picknicks. Its easy to make, and easy to transport.










Get out! Get Dirty!


Your clothes looks so used! They look authentic worn, stained and patched like that! How do you get your clothes patinated that good?

I have no events to use my clothes at! No one makes events with my focus/timesegment.

You recognise these questions? We have gotten them and similar many times. People like to use the things they make but there is no place to do it at. Its the same for us. But it don’t have to be that fancy and difficult. We are what can be described as quite active. That’s how our clothes get ‘that used and tarnished look” (dirty and decript is also terms that has been applied…)

Why is it good to get out?

While some are perfectly happy to just make clothes and watch them hang on a rack, many want to feel how they work. To get a real feel for how they work, what works and in which way, you need to actually use them. Sitting at a table at a banquet you can do in almost any clothing. But walking, running, climbing and working in the clothes will make you feel what works and what doesn’t. It might also give you some revelations about why the clothes are cut, or the gear positioned, as it is. This is to slowly move into experimental archaeology…

Organising an event?

Now, all things we do might look very planned when it is digested and pooped out in blogform. But mostly they are about as planned as this:

Me: Hey, its supposed to be nice weather tomorrow, forest?
Emil: Yeah, we aint been out since two weekends ago. You finally going to shoot that hornsoundingvideo?
Me: Naa….. dun feel like it.. I need to check up sources…. lets just.. eat cheese.
Emil: Ok, new forest?
Me: Naaa…..  lets take the same one as I’m lazy and don’t wanna walk to far before  we get to the actual woods.

Evenets dont have to be big. Instead of cunducting a salmonorchestra ocf pipers, maybe just a pie in the park?

Events don’t have to be big. Instead of conducting a salmon orchestra of pipers, with a meatfork,  maybe just a pie in the park will do?

And this is the making of about 80% of our blogposts under the ‘hunting expeditions tag’ (like this one for example) . They usually result in a day or half day of medieval woodsmanship.

Time for planning: approx ten minutes.

Time to prepare approx 20 min (including looking for braes -ten minutes)

This is an excellent way to keep your medievaling going and get to use your clothes that you put all those hours into making.


The next level, organising an event!

Lets say you want some more people to join you and not just the ones that are easily gripped at armslength.

It still don’t have to be very much work. Just set a date, a time and maaaaaybe some kind of theme (if it doesn’t feel to advanced) and tell people to be there. You usually get more people the longer time they have to plan.

A week?  You get maybe three to five people.

A month?  You get maybe ten to twenty.

noone ever liked Neighbors playing loud music. Keep the event civil.

No one ever liked neighbours playing loud music. Keep the event civil.

Now, some might think its more work the more people you get. But you don’t really have to do everything yourself. You don’t have to make all the food, get places to sit and tables and all that. Most people like making their own things. That is part of the hobby after all. These kind of events can range from rather small and cosy, like the huntgathering, or very big social historical crossovers, like “the ultimate historic megapicnic” , which where both in the form of a picknick and thus not as draining on the organisers.



Its just me, myself and I

Lets say it is mostly just you that share the fascination of late spring 1378 and you’d like others to play with you. To get people interested there is almost just one way to go around it. Get active. If you build it, they will come. People like to be social, and they like to do things. This is why historic segments with alot of actives, get more actives.

Try to get cool pics for Facebook. But dont get photobombed by shady monks in sunglasses. No one likes those guys.

Try to get cool pics for Facebook. But don’t get photobombed by shady monks in sunglasses.
No one likes those guys.

If you want to get a new historic segment started you need to make things people can do in that segment. There is no use to try and lure someone to sew an outfit to clutter up yet more space in an overused closet. As stated above, it doesn’t have to be fancy, but it has to be shown. If you are falling down in the forest and noone noticed it on Facebook, noone will ever know. But if you show all and everyone how you sit on a rock, eat a sausage and pokes a worm, they will see how cool it is and want to join.



In conclusion

You don’t have to make things big and fancy. Just grab your stuff and go out.vår

The Lappvattnet hat

This time we will go slightly of focus for the blog but we just have to put some light on this rather extraordinary well preserved medieval hat.

In 1938 they found an old hat. Its was a ordinary felted hat of 18 cm height and a brim with a 46 cm circumference. The hat emerged when a bog was being diked out. The special conditions of bogs can keep textile, especially wool, in a very good condition for a long time. Time went by and it was delivered to the local museum in 1966 where it was dated to around 1600 somewhere, mostly based upon its shape. The hat was carefully conservated and mounted. It was placed in its natural shape and not as it might have been worn. It has a rather distinct shape for 17:th century hats. In 2014 some workers at the museum had started wondering if the hat might not be older  than this. A small piece was cut from the edge of the brim and sent for C14 dating. The test showed that it was from between 1310 and 1440, with a probability peak of around 1400. This makes it one of the best preserved medieval hats in Sweden, Scandinavia and possibly even Europe.

The northern reaches

Before we take a look at the hat, lets have a look on where it was found. The north part of the Scandinavian peninsula was at this time not part of any kingdom. Norway claimed some tax rights of the Sami people on the eastern sides. On the Baltic coast Swedish traders, so called birkarlar, where the only ones from Sweden allowed to trade with the Sami, a right they kept for a long time. Traders from Novgorod, the forerunners of the Russian empire, also came from the north to trade. The trade was almost exclusively with furs. Bisshunters (someone that hunts mainly for furs) and furtraders lived and traded here. The trade then moved over Stockholm, as this was a stapletown which all trade in the region had to go through. In Stockholm foreign traders would buy the goods and transport it out to the customers in Europe and the world. The area of Lappvattnet also had trade with the Norwegians, getting English goods from the Norwegian ports. This paints us a picture of a harsh pioneer frontier, but with connections to modern cities and fashion for those of means. The hat probably belonged to either a bisshunter or a furtrader. The name “Lappvattnet” means “the Sami water” Lapp, being an older term now considered derogatory. That the hat was found here, might implicate that the owner was part of the furtrade in some way.

The hat

The hat is extremely well preserved. As mentioned above it has a height of 18 cm and is slightly tapered to the top with a flat top. It gives a pointed look. Hat-maker and textile antiquarian Amica Sundström of the state historical museum thinks it was made on a stock, according to the surface of the hat. The brim is 46 cm wide. Over the brim we can see indentions from two cords. If these have been there as decorations or if they are marks from when the hat was made and tied down to the stock, is hard to know. Tying the hat to the stock under manufacture was not an uncommon practise. The hat is made from uncoloured sheepswool.

photo from Västerbottens museum

Photo from Västerbottens museum

A look at other brimmed hats of the age

The hat does not look like a hat most people think of as medieval. But if you imagine it worn a bit different, it suddenly pops out of the sources as not very uncommon at all. Especially around the turn of the century 1300-1400. Most broadbrimmed hats are shown with the brim turned up, sometimes decorated. While most are roundtopped, there are some that have a clear point. Especially Russians in western art are depicted in pointy hats. These hats are somewhat more pointy as a rule, but there are all manners between round and pointy.

Russian bisshunters on Rigafahrergestühl St.-Nikolai-Kirche, Stralsund

Russian bisshunters on Rigafahrergestühl St.-Nikolai-Kirche, Stralsund. These hats are very pointed and the brim uppturned all around.

The above picture is mostly to show pointy hats in the Baltic region. Other pointy hats in manuscripts have a more defined brim. Like these two, non russians, that we might suspect has this kind of hat in a more fancy version. The brim is turned up in the front and back. Note this for later. rockar Johannes döparens huvud på ett fat

coupled hounds

Hats with a more rounded top, but also higher then what would be called a roundtop can bee seen on more ordinary men, like this berner (doghandler) in Livre de chasse.

Something that looks quite similar to the Lappvattnet hat can be spotted on a fellow in the background of a illumination. kortärmad rockThis pointed hat in a dark purplish hue could be worn with the brim upturned or not. the angle of the head makes it hard to judge.

Also this hat from Another copy of livre the chasse shares characteristics to the Lappvattnet hat. The brim upturned and a pointed top. blåhatt All these hats are not quite spot on on the Lappvattnet hat, being to pointy or not pointy enough. But they serve the purpose of showing that brimmed hats with a pointed crown are not foreign to the age. But this hat with a fancy band on also sports the flat top of the hat combined with a brim and a tapered crown shape. I think that the Lappvattnet hat could be worn in a fashion like this and have a very similar look.Suzanne och åldermännenAnd then we have these two weary pilgrims from 1462. Having almost identical hats to the one from Lappvattnet 1462

The brimquestion

So, now we have looked at different hats and seen that the model is not all that uncommon. I have been thinking that the hats brim would have been worn turned up. This is of course also reflected in the picture-material I have presented to support this. There is also examples of wearing the hat with the brim down. This is mostly seen on pilgrims and other pious persons, but it is a possibility. Now lets look at the hat before and after preservation. Foto av filthatt, Pnr 4925, 1968 001 (1)As we can see on the Before Picture (the topmost) the brims have a rather distinct upturn. Visible after some 500 years in a bog and 30 years above it. This curve could be from being in the bog, or from being badly stored after being taken up. But I find it quite possible that it is a upturn from its used days, based upon the pictures from the age showing that this is a very common way to wear it. The brim bears an uncanny resemblance to how the brim is used in the first pointy hats I posted above.

In conclusion

The Lappvattnet hat is a uniquely preserved hat for the common people. There is not many of these around, and the ones that are are not as well preserved as this one. If this was a hat for a more well positioned members of society it would probably have been dyed in some nice colour. That it is a plain undyed wool puts it in the lower layers of society.

We like to thank: Thank you to Västerbottens Museum for all the help they gave us. Especially Åsa Lundberg and Hillevi Wadensten. Also thanks to Amica at the state historical museum, textile antiquarian and hat reconstructor for some thoughts around it all. …and a personal thanks to Anna Söderström that pointed me towards the hat in the first place. You can read the museum report of the hat in Swedish here, pg 44 and 45. And the homepage of the museum is here, if you want to contact them. / Johan

20.000 clicks

… well, its closer to 22.000 when I write this, but it went so fast at the end there we didnt have time.

I never really thought that the blog would get this many clicks at all, even lesser in such a short time. But we said that if we got 20.000 hits we would do a video about something not very serious. And so we did.

So, here it is:

♦Ten ways to wear your hood!♦

Out and about with all your stuff

ut på turMany of our readers are out and about in the woods themselves in your medieval gear. We all face the same problem eventually. How do I get all my my stuff with me?

I have said it before and I say it again. The medieval man was not the nature loving trekker we want her to be. You went into the wilds only when you had to. Even in Sweden, then a civilisation backwater, you had inns instated at least one day from each other. This was regulated by law. If this was not for some reason possible the villages where not that far-spread and you can often see one church from one parish to the other.

The hunt was probably mostly over the day, judging from the huntbook descriptions. Starting in the morning and finishing in the evening when you where back home, or possibly in a hunting lodge if it was a far removed hunting area. Most described hunts are from dawn to evening, when you return to your home. The woods where also home to trolls and werewolfs. Even if we scoff at these notions today, they where real fears for medieval man.

This means that they did not have the same need to lug a lot of gear around, and when they did it was often A LOT of it (meaning a sumpterhorse was needed). The reason I am addressing this is that many are translating their modern needs to a medieval environment. this usually means they want, or need, a rucksack or similar to carry their things in. This need was not as great for medieval man as her needs to carry a lot of stuff was not as big. Sleeping outdoors probably was very rare, and something that was avoided as much as possible. It is not unheard of though, but when its mentioned, for example in Decamerone, they just lay down on the ground. Henri de Ferriers is shown laying on some kind of straw-mat, but we don’t know if he is sleeping out or just resting.

Henri Ferrieres having a Little laydown

Henri Ferrieres having a little laydown


So, the backpack, what about that?

harvesting leeks in the 1390:ies

Harvesting leeks in the 1390:ies

We can start by saying that a backpack is virtually unseen unless you are using it in work. For example people picking grapes use a wicker basket on their backs for the grapes. Quarry-workers also have similar, or people having a need to transport things on a workplace. These wicker-baskets are mostly seen when you are transporting different wares or when harvesting. Also, some do not use two straps, but one horisontal, carrying the bag with the chest more then the shoulders. Of course these COULD have been used to carry things further. For example if you have to carry things out into the wild, it is possible even if we have not seen this on pictures, and If there are these baskets around, you would use it. They seem to be a popular way to transport goods.

The Martebo sack.


martebo_01On the church of Martebo on Gotland, Sweden, we see a woman carrying things as she is wandering. She probably utilises a double sack, one that has two compartments and an opening in the middle. It is possible, although not likely, that it is a regular sack-, but the lack of a visible closing makes the first option more probable. This sort of bag appears to be both rather simple and common as it is seen in many other places too. It can be carried over the shoulder or used for sumpterhorses.

I have been using this kind of bag for several years and it is quite possible to walk long distances with it loaded with the necessities needed. You might need to change shoulders now and then to distribute the burden. It is not as comfortable as a backpack, but its working and it is also easy to use with a horse.

The sack carried by me

The sack carried by me

the same sack, carried by a sumpterhorse

the same sack, carried by a sumpterhorse

Of course, having a horse in medieval times is like having a car now. Most that actually where travelling around had a horse and they came as expensive as sin for a combat-trained stallion, destrier, or rather cheap  for the lowest quality nag, one step away from the glue factory (or the dinner table if this was vikingtimes). Using a horse is a great way to get your stuff moved about, if you like to see the use of sumpterhorses I recommend this video of a medieval pilgrimage I did, where sumpterhorses was put to good use.

pilgrimmer.Another way to use this bag is seen on some pilgrims in 15:th Century. They have made a hole straight through the bag and thus are able to carry it more evenly distributed on the shoulders. You can also see bags carried around their waists. Thos probably is shoulder bags worn like this. Talking about that.. lets have a look at…




pilg blackShoulderbags are mostly seen on pilgrims. They are so much associated with pilgrims that they are a part of what identifies a pilgrim (the bag, and staff are often used as symbols for pilgrims). Pilgrims are of course the very example of medieval people that are travelling. But they are also in a way very non-representative for medieval travellers. Being a pilgrim means that you are supposed to rely on God and the kindness of others to get along. So all you needed was your bowl, spoon and a canteen of water.

So, did others use shoulderbags, the ones we also call pilgrimbags? There is scarce evidence of anyone else then pilgrims using them. Why this is is hard to know. Perhaps the need was not big as they did not have a lot of things with them. But we can almost be assured that they had something to eat on long walks. Perhaps some coldcuts to nibble on between the inns. But we don’t know in what they carried this. I can not in good conscious say that shoulderbags was in good use by all, but to me it seems plausible if you had things you needed to bring.

pilgrimsbag, leather

pilgrimsbag, leather

There is also a ongoing discussion (I can say this knowing that even if this article is read in two or three years from now, it will still  be discussed…) if these bags are in leather or textile. If they are lined or not. No preserved pilgrimbags are known and in pictures they come in different colours. This can mean that it is textile, or that is dyed leather. I for one Think that they where common enough to probably have been made in both textile and leather. Lining of the bags is not easy to know. There are other bags and pouches that have linings, and using textile inserts in beltbags is not uncommon. Again, we do not know and both having and not having a lining seems plausible.

Bundle it up

You can also just fold everything into your blanket and tie it up nice and tight. This is sometimes seen when medieval man is packing up trade items. I guess there is nothing really stopping you from doing the same with your personal stuff.

carrying stuff


Bundled up trade goods

 final thoughts

So, we probably have more needs then medieval man had when we are out. Sleeping outdoors is something we can quite enjoy when it was something to avoid for them. If they had to they mostly probably just slept under a tree with the cloak for blanket. But hopefully you have gotten some ideas about how to lug around your gear in a probable medieval way.

I myself mostly use the double carry sack (Martebo sack) when I need a full overnight kit, as these seems to be the most common pack of people travelling in the 14:th century. I have been walking days with it and it is not that uncomfortable, once you get used to it.

For dayoutings a pilgrimbag is all that is needed. Sometimes I tie an extra cotte to the bagstrap if I think it might be needed. All I carry then is some cheese and wine and maybe a sausage for lunch. And a little bowl if I feel abit fancy.

extra kyrtil

Extra cotte strapped to the shoulder-strap of the bag



Warm, dry and happy.

Out and about in wintertime

We like to keep active the year around, and in Sweden we have the saying “there is no bad weather, just bad clothing”. To know how to dress in cold climate and what will keep you warm and why, that is the key. This article will be about HOW to keep warm, not just how the medieval people did it, but general tricks about how to be outdoorsy in medieval clothing. In the middle ages people where out and about in wintertime. These days we often think of winter as a troublesome time of year. But the medieval person did not really share this and in Sweden winter was a preferred time of travel.

Hålväg, Medieval road in Sweden. Eriksgata, Sandhem

Hålväg, Medieval road in Sweden. Eriksgata, Sandhem

The medieval ‘roads’ up here through the great forests where nothing more than tracks. Mostly orientated to the high ridges as to not become rivers in periods of heavy rain. Most modern hikingtracks are bigger then medieval roads. Keeping to high ground also meant that the meandering roads had alot of ups and downs. In wintertime the landscape was completely different. The frozen rivers and lakes became virtual highways. Flat, straight surfaces to use sleighs or to ski on and most places where situated along water and easy to get to. In old itineraries (descriptions of how to travel. the forerunners of maps) you often see two sets of descriptions, winter road and summer road. The winter road is always about one to two thirds faster. When the swedes themselves could choose, they also liked to wage war in winter. In winter the farmers was not needed to tend crops and where free to go to war in another way. (Swedish army was based on the levy of farmers. Well equipped and free men with regulated service to the crown).  

The theoretical part

What keeps you warm?

There is basically two things that makes you warm. Activity, making your body generate heat, and air, that insulate from the outside cold.

What makes you cold?

You mostly get cold from being wet. As the moist evaporates from your body it cools it. You also get cold from the wind blowing away the air that the body have heated.

Being rugged

Humans are capable of getting used to highly uncomfortable situations. Our threshold for what constitutes as to uncomfortable versus just abit annoying can be pushed and is all a matter of what you are used to (as everyone that has spent time in the military is aware of). I guess that living a simpler life more in tune with weather and nature would make you less whiny. It is possible medieval folks was willing to accept a little more discomfort than a normal modern city-dweller. In a way this article shows abit of what I mean

On to the practical part

walkingBeing out and about in wintertime is actually not very cold in many ways. Walking in winter is making your body produce its own heat and generally it is enough wearing two cottes. The clothing should be airy, as it is the air that your body warms that will keep you warm, not the thickness of your garment. A airy garment that will ‘trap’ air will keep you warmer than a garment made just of thick cloth and slimmed around you. The outermost garment can be of a closer weave, or fullered as this will keep the wind out. The wind will blow “through” more open weaves and hence take all that cosy warmness with it. I usually have two or three cottes, depending on wind, cold, and the amount of work I think I will do. This brings us to…

Adjust the clothing to the activity

Actually one of the more common reasons people are getting cold is because they are wearing to much while being active. This makes them sweat and thus wet. When being active, that is walking, you need to regulate your clothes. Being to lazy to do this WILL punish you. When you get hot, remove clothing. As soon as you stop for longer than five to ten minutes, you will need to strengthen your clothing to preserve the heat generated. A coat or a cloak will be good for this. Many will feel to tired to root out a coat for what they think is a short break. Don’t be that person. Getting cold means loosing energy, so you will only get more tired the colder you get.

Don’t stand in the snow

branches is a good way to isolate from cold

branches is a good way to isolate from cold

Especially with medieval leathersoled shoes you need to insulate yourself from the groundcold. If you are standing in one place for a bit longer, kick the snow away, or compact it so your feet are not covered in snow. Use branches, fir preferably, and make a little heap to stand on. This will reduce the cold from the ground you are exposed to when standing still. (Also, to state the obvious, don’t sit in the snow.)

Your built in furnace

Heat is energy. To produce energy your body needs fuel. You need to eat regularly and drink more then you think. If your belly is full you will have fuel to burn. Technically it takes energy to heat and to cool food to body temperature so eating hot food is in a way a energyloss (lukewarm food and drink being the most efficient) but the psychological effect of having warmth spreading from inside is often more desired.

Cold feet but a hot head?

The body, as we now know produces heat. But it does so to keep you functioning. Thus it will prioritize keeping the parts of the body hot that is essential. This is firstly the head where your brain resides, and the torso, where your vital organs are. Extremities are not considered vital for your lifesupport. This will mean that if the head is not warm enough, the body will start to redirect heat (blood-flow mostly) from the extremities. Your feet first and then hands and working its way inwards progressively. Helping the head to keep warm will in essence help you to keep your feet warm. The body will not have to prioritize heating the head. So, you will feel cold in your feet, but not your head, because the head is getting the heat from your feet. Warming the head will let the feet keep their allotted warmth.

The little trick

The body have ventilation-points. The most used ones are located on your wrists, your neck, your temples and the jugulum (the hollow where the collarbones meet). As people in hot climates know, pressing cool clothes at these area will cool you down efficiently. The same goes with warmth. It is efficient to warm, that is cover, these and thus reducing the ventilation.

Get the snow off

Snow that falls on you, either from the clouds or from branches dumping their load, should be brushed off straight away. The snow in it self is cooling and it will also make you wet when it melts from your body heat. Help each other out and brush off snow that the other can not see. This is equally important with your shoes, pick out lumps of snow that has ventured inside them.

The materials

Materials in the clothing is a vital part. It all comes down to getting wet again. You will get wet, no matter how you act and how the materials in your clothes react when wet is vital.

double pair of wool hosen. I never needed more then this

double pair of wool hosen. I never needed more than this

You want to have wool. Wool have several features that makes it a very good material.It has a natural fat (these days often washed out, but it can be refatted) called lanolin. This makes it naturally water resistant. Wool is also able to soak up as much as 30 percent of its own weight in moisture without feeling wet. When it gets wet, it channels the wet to its lowpoints making the hems of the garment heavy with water, but the upper parts almost dry in comparison. Also, and this is the most awesome part, wool warms you when it is wet also (!). In comparison cotton is about 150 times more cooling when wet then when dry. Now, the most amazing part… Wool fibres are made up of cortical cells, and these cells are wrapped in cuticle. This scaly outer layer is then covered by yet another layer, the epicuticle — a filmy skin that helps to repel moisture. What’s more, the epicuticle also helps out in high humidity because it has tiny pores that draw in the moisture vapour to the centre of the fibre where it’s absorbed by a chemical process. The hydrogen bond of water, H2O, is actually broken, creating a chemical reaction with the wool fibre molecules to generate heat when it has taken on a lot of moisture. (taken from how stuff works). If wool is also fulled (hard felted), it repells water even better, but looses some of its ability to bind air. But this is countered by….

The use of layers

Emil showing Three cottes in layers

Emil showing Three cottes in layers

To trap air and keep warm, and also to be able to easily regulate your clothing to your activity (as covered above) you use layers of clothing. Ultimately you have a thinner closest to your body (I generally don’t use linen shirts at all in the wintertime as they just get wet and don’t have the moisture retaining quality of wool). Over this you have a more loosely woven woollen cotte, also loose in it’s cut, to trap air warmed by your body. Over this you use a fullered cotte to resist the weather and also to keep the wind out. When standing still you have a coat or a cape to reinforce the layers of trapped air. Another way of layering is….



Lining your garments

furlined coat on Sofia, showing typical medieval furpattern

Furlined coat on Sofia, showing the typical medieval furpattern

Lining your garments allows you to combine two garments essentially. You can create a pocket between them making it two cottes in one, but you can also line with fur. Fur needs no closer explanation really.. It is vastly superior in binding air. Some fur even has hollow strands and will be very hot indeed (reindeer for example, has hollow hairs that allows you to sleep directly on ice on a fleece). In medieval times there are nothing in pictures pointing towards the wearing of fur with the hairs out. When this is seen on paintings it always shows heathens, or wild men. Those that are not part of the culture and the ones you define yourself as not being. Eva Andersson, dresshistorian with special edge towards medieval clothes, have seen some evidence of this in the north though.  There are examples, both written and in pictures, of lining your clothes with fur. But as there is mentionings of bear it is possible that this was worn as a “fur outward” coat, as it is a fur that is very heavy, thick and hard to line a garment with. This might also apply to wolf (depending on witch part of the wolf is used). You had to be a bit careful though, as it was thought that you could emulate the characteristics of some animals via some kind of fashion osmosis. Lining with another layer of wool, or preferably, with fur is a very good and medieval way to keep warm. Note that this refers to cottes and hoods, I have yet to see evidence of furlined hosen or shoes.

What fur was used?

The aforementioned Eva Andersson have been looking at medieval testaments in regard to clothes. According to her squirrel is the most common but marten gains popularity in 15:th cent. amongst the burgers lamb/sheep was popular and also rabbit, ferret (polecat) otter, wolf, reindeer and bear are mentioned in some cases. (På svenska; ekorre, mård, lamm/får, kanin, iller, utter, varg, ren och björn.) Edward Of Norwich, in Master of game, say that wolf is good to use in cuffs, or pelisses. For this, especially ‘cuffs’ he also recommends fox.

some need no extra fur

Some need no extra fur

(Check out “Clothing and textile materials in medieval Sweden and Norway ” in Medieval clothing and textiles. Vol. 9 edited by Robin Netherton and Gale R. Owen-Crocker., pp. 97-120 for more extensive info here)

 On to the garments!

So, lets take a look on how medieval people might have tackled the above problems and solutions.


As we already covered in the ‘layering’ part. you will get along splendidly with just some extra cottes. Two or three is usually enough up to -15C or even -20C . Just think about not having to tight clothing. And Wool. Always wool.


Furlined hood, your friend in the snow

Furlined hood, your friend in the snow

The hood is very popular and is excellent in some ways. The collar of the hood keeps the bodyheat that raises from the body, and collects it. The hood in it self is covering the ventilationpoints in the temple, the neck and the jugulum. The hood also keeps the air warmed of the head in close proximity to the face, so the wind don’t blow it away. When worn with a cloak or coat, it seems that it is common to have the collar of the hood inside the coat.


regular medieval shoes

regular medieval shoes

So far I have seen no evidence of any special ‘wintershoes’. The thing that is needed by shoes in winter is that they are big enough to make room for socks and extra hosen. There is some evidence that higher boots might have been of this kind, that is bigger to allow the use of socks. There is no difference in the feet as opposed to the body in regards to what makes you freeze. Trap air and keep dry. if there is dry snow, as it is when its more then -2 C you can actually just use several socks, without a shoe. The key is not to cram socks into a shoe that is not made for it. This will only compress the sock and make the air it is able to hold less. It will also press on your foot and reduce the bloodflow thought it. This will also make the foot cold as bloodflow is vital to keep warm. A well greased up shoe will, of course, keep water out better (I usually make a shoefat of sheepstallow, beeswax and tar) but if it is wet out, the shoe will get wet sooner or later.


Stuffing materials into the shoes to isolate from the cold is also a method that was used. One of our readers, Nicolas Hofbauer, pointed us to a german poem from 13th century; “Meier Helmbrecht” where there are peasants mentioned “who dance so wildly that the straw comes flying out of their boots”. We also know of ‘bootstraw’ from later times. There is even a grass here in Sweden called ‘shoegrass’.

There are finds of wool thats seems to have been stuffed loosely into the shoes and then felted together in the shape of the shoe (they have found the felted wool).


Socks are in use for reinforcing the feet. These are made with naalbinding, knitting is not used in Europe at any bigger extent at this time. The knitted socks that are in existence seems to be very fine and for the very top classes of society. Naalbinding is a very old technique and seems to have been used throughout the viking- and medieval age. To get to know more about naalbinding you can follow this link.  Also there is some suggestions of sewn socks that are shorter then normal hosen.

a Naalbound sock, probobly medieval

a Naalbound sock, probably medieval


The Bockstens man, one of few full medieval clothes ensable that have been found from 14th century, wore patches of cloth, footwraps, (fotlappar in Swedish) that was made from old used clothing and then cut into squares and wrapped around the foot. He used three to six wraps.


* Gloves

Naalbound glove, Lund, Oslostitch. Around 14:th cent

Naalbound glove, Lund, Oslostitch. Around 14:th cent

 of all kinds was in use. Either five fingered or threefingered of thumbed. The threefinger glove seems to be more common on males then females. The materials are probably cloth, naalbinding and some in leather. The leathergloves are often interpreted as workgloves. There are some gloves that show signs of fur lining, but these are rare.

threefinger gloves. one show signs of fur inside

Threefinger gloves, one show signs of fur inside

a glove, felted, from Lödöse.

Two gloves, one felted


Bigger coats are great for when you stop to rest. Testaments (wills) shows that these are inherited between sexes. This might show that men and women alike could use them, or just that they where deemed valuable. Many coats have a slit in the arms, allowing you to stick the arm out if it becomes to bulky. Coats are often better then cloaks as they don’t open themselves and let the air out when you move.

 heavily fullered coat lined with fur.

Heavily fullered coat lined with fur


Cloaked men from MSBod 264

Cloaked men from MSBod 264

Cloaks are maybe not as popular as coats in the 14:th Century. But they are used in rough and wet weather. Most common is to wear it buttoned on one shoulder and seldom longer than below the knee.

Bild 306The shepherds hood

This hood is often shown on shepherds. it is a hood with a longer collar to it. almost as a short cape. They usually are as long as to go to the wrists of the hands. Our friend Vix have written an extensive article about these cloaks that you can read here.


Although snow is water of a sort it is not always suitable for drinking. First of all, it cools you, and secondly its dry and don’t quench the thirst as good. For cooking, snow is excellent though, so there is no lack of water when in camp where there is snow. One problem that we have encountered is that the water in the leather canteens freeze. This results in that some of the canteens, that use a cork, was frozen shut and could not be opened at all. The one using a wooden plug could be pried open and the layer of ice that had formed inside hacked through with a dagger to get some drinking water. with modern bottles you usually carry them inside the clothes to keep them from freezing, but as almost no leathercosterel is safe from leaking, this is not recommended with them.

Pic. by Sofia Stenler

Picture by Sofia Stenler



 in conclusion

This article builds heavily on years of experience. the theoretical parts comes mostly from survival-courses in the Swedish army, coupled with books on the subject by  Lars Fält (founder of Swedish Army survival School and internationally recognised survival expert). For the reconstructing we do as always, look at period text and pictures and go from there (our methods can bee seen more in Four grey hunters and Can I wear this? ) To conclude this article though;

  • Wear layered clothing.
  • Wear wool, wool, and only wool.
  • Keep in motion to generate heat  (“only lazy and stupid freeze” another saying, meaning those that are to lazy to to move or to stupid to put on more clothes)
  • Don’t stand in snow
  • Regulate clothing to activity to avoid getting sweaty
  • And most of all…. don’t get wet!, change wet clothing as soon as possible

Also eat and drink and.. be happy. Its always easier if you have a cheerful attitude instead of starting a negative spiral. /Johan