pearl: Black and white outline of a toadstool with paint splatters. (Default)
Remember the very exciting Viking graveyard from Cumwhitton? The one with the very vague description of:

"The female burial to the east, sk 27, was accompanied by inter alia a collection of beads, a jet ring, a copper alloy object and various iron objects, concentrated in the head area , together with a magnificent jet bracelet , which would have gone round the left wrist, and a copper alloy belt fitting around the waist."

Yes? After e-mailing Oxford Archaeology late last year about it, they said that there were remains of seal skin attached to a buckle in sk 27. Very cool. Since then, I found a short article about the Cumwhitton finds, but it's been put online, too. So you can all enjoy the colour photos of bits of a buckle, seal skin, and the enigmatic description of "a sealskin garment that was fastened by a highly decorated copper alloy buckle."

Watson, J. Hollow Swords and Needles in a Soil Block: Unravelling the Evidence Preserved on the Artefacts from the Viking Cemetery at Cumwhitton, Cumbria. English Heritage Research News 13 (2009-10):14-16.

There's a big, green 'download' button on the left.

I'm hopefully going to get a peek, today, at:
Simpson, F. 2009. Cumwhitton Norse Burial. In S. Thomas and P. Stone (eds.) Metal Detecting and Archaeology. Woodbridge: Boydell, pp. 137 - 146.
Last time I went to the library looking for it, in the time in between leaving the house and getting to that shelf, the book had been checked out. :(

Edit: The article focuses, primarily, on the process from a metal detectorist (detective?) finding a brooch, to the archaeologists coming in and digging the place up. The two things that are likely to be more infuriatingly vague to be useful, if I know my readers, are:
Read more... )
pearl: Black and white outline of a toadstool with paint splatters. (Default)
In: Bau, Flemming. 1981. "Seler og Slaeb i Vikingetid: Birka's Kvindedragt i nyt lys." KUML;13-47.

Footnote number 28, in reference to evidence for belts at Birka, he cites Hägg 1975 p. 55, and then says (my translation)...

"At grave 552, there was a knife that may have been fastened to a belt. According to the burial plan and description in Birka I, it was instead of scissors/shears. Grave 645 could also be interpreted as a grave containing a belt -- a knife hanging from a chain that stops at belt-height, with one brooch apparently having a superfluous linen strap which may have worked in connection with the chain fragment."

My question is this: Is he basing this on something that Hägg says in her thesis, or is he just assuming anything vaguely waist-height must be attached to a belt?
pearl: Black and white outline of a toadstool with paint splatters. (Default)
This forum posting mentions an article in Acta Archaeologica that apparently has 6-8th c. women buried with buckles.

Karen Høilund Nielsen, 1987. 'Zur Chronologie der jüngeren germanischen Eisenzeit auf Bornholm', Acta Archaeologica, 57; 47-86.

When I'm next in the city I shall have to go and investigate.
pearl: Black and white outline of a toadstool with paint splatters. (Default)
After being able to get my hands on the plates from Birka I, the mystery strap-end from Bj 29 is the one on the Birka Traders website.

Bj 158b's belt-loop-hanger fitting looks nothing like how I imagined it. It looks more akin to the belt loop on a pair of modern pants, with an oval metal back-plate, and it looks like it would make a very nice pendant to me.

And I noticed the fancy-looking needle case at Phiala's page is from Bj 515, apparently. It also contained this amazing amethyst ring.

Belt stuff

Apr. 7th, 2010 03:20 pm
pearl: Black and white outline of a toadstool with paint splatters. (Default)
My copy of Birka II:2 arrived today, so I've been treating myself to reading bits and pieces, in between working on my thesis.

I was previously under the impression that the belt hardware found in female graves were modified into jewellery and pendants. Frustratingly, the articles don't seem to be interested in if the pieces were modified, but what decorative motif they had, but there are still a couple of weird things I wouldn't have thought would have made pretty pendants.

Bj 158B was a cremation grave with a belt loop-hanger fitting (Riemenschlaufe), and Bj 456 was another cremation with an entire and very pretty belt buckle, but no brooches. And in all the three cases of 'non-oriental' belt accessories (there's also a strapend from Bj 29), there are no unburnt bodies to know where the item was worn.

(I'm vaguely thinking that there might be some sort of connection between a lack of brooches and a belt, since it seems to occur in an Icelandic and an English grave, but that's a very vague connection.)

The double grave Bj 750 contained belt accessories too, but was interpreted as being male equipment.
pearl: Black and white outline of a toadstool with paint splatters. (Default)
Sorry to bother people with better things to do than this, but I'm getting myself confused with my very, very poor Swedish, again.

From Bratt, P. 2001. Gravfältet vid Dragonbacken I (Stockholm: Stockholms läns museum) pp. 44-45.
PDF online.

"Eftersom bältebeslaget i grav A108 uppträder ensamt och i samband med kvinnobegravningar har den eventuellt istället använts som medaljong buren om halsen. Hypotesen styrks också av att niten för fastsättning i bältet saknas på baksidan av beslaget."

I'm reading that as:
"As the belt attachment is in grave A108 occurs in isolation [p. 58 of the second volume, PDF, below, says it is 'Centralt i anläggningen mellan brandlagren'/ central to the fire-storage-installation??] and in conjunction with [two] women's graves, it may instead have been a medallion placed at the throat. The hypothesis is also supported as the rivet for attachment to a belt is missing from the back of the mount."

The part that is confusing me is the phrase 'buren om halsen,' it is something to do with a throat, yes?
pearl: Black and white outline of a toadstool with paint splatters. (Default)
Have you seen this, Folo? (click on the plow photo at the bottom for more stuff.)

Edit: Hilde Thunem's page about underdresses has something I hadn't noticed before. Where there are photos of two reconstructed sleeve styles of the under dress, the one on the left is an apron dress from Trelleborg museum, and it is the pleated-front style and it looks like the pleats are sewn down. Interesting!

and here's a mystery...

The last three messages of this Stefans Florilegium file about belts, says there is, supposedly, an o-ring belt 'on a woman's Viking dress' display at the Historiska Museet.
Here is what appears to be the reconstructed outfits at the museum:
and the only belt I see is on the man's outfit. Mind you, this photo seems to have been taken about a year before the commentator visited the museum.

So, anyone have any different photos?
pearl: Black and white outline of a toadstool with paint splatters. (Default)
Ah, so that why we don't know what the strap ends were doing in the Westness burial:
A farmer had accidentally dug up the grave, and buried a cow in it.

Page 136 of Vikings in Scotland: an archaeological survey, by James Graham-Campbell, and Colleen E. Batey. (Emphasis mine!)

...accidental discovery of the first grave in 1963. This was disturbed by a farmer burying a dead cow, so that little is known about the actual form of the grave. However, subsequent investigation, following the disinterment of the cow, revealed that it had contained a woman with a full term infant, who had presumably died in childbirth, buried with an exceptionally rich selection of ornaments and other objects...

Here's the 1963 mention of it page 42.

Gosh darn it!
pearl: Black and white outline of a toadstool with paint splatters. (Default)
This isn't the webpage I *thought* I would be putting up, but it's a quick run down on the evidence for buckles and strap ends in Norse female Viking-age graves.

It would be an essay, except I really don't think I'm that knowledgeable when it comes to Norse stuff, and it's mostly designed for re-enactor types who really should be weighing up the evidence and making up their own minds.

Hopefully I'll have more up tonight about belts worn by women in neighbouring cultures.
pearl: Black and white outline of a toadstool with paint splatters. (Default)
I've previously mentioned the belt fittings found in female graves in...
Kildonan, Eigg (According to the Cruach Mor article)
Kneep/Cnip, Valtos, Lewis
and Cruach Mor, Islay

and now we can add Grave sk27, Cumwhitton.
and Reay, Caithness (SCRAN Online ID 000-100-043-821-C)

ETA: Kaupang, Norway
St. Patricks' Isle, Peel, Isle of Man p.96

Edit Again:
Peter Beatson mentions a strap end from a Birka female cremation grave.

I'm sure there are more, but I'm biased towards English-language sources.
pearl: Black and white outline of a toadstool with paint splatters. (Default)
I found another sprang belt, maybe, since the Russian translates as 'reticulated netting' it seems rather likely. Especially when you compare the Russian and English descriptions of a recreated sprang belt. (Russian: Пояса сетчатого плетения)

Lots of pictures behind the cut )


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