Thanks to movies, TV shows, and books, you can almost accurately describe what the Vikings wore to battle, and you would reanimate some of your favorite episodes and chapters easily, but is there a specific name used for the clothes worn by the Vikings in battle?
Traditional Viking Warrior Clothing
While there is very little archaeological evidence available regarding the clothes worn by the Vikings, especially because the fabrics and materials don’t really preserve well, Norse sagas, as well as archaeological evidence, allow you to piece together Viking clothing accurately.
Regarding the kind of clothing worn during the Viking era, it’s evident that layers were quite a big deal. And whether men were out hunting, shipbuilding, or raiding, the layers allowed them to and keep warm, even when doing physical work.
The base garments were, however, lighter and also short-sleeved in warm weather, and in cold and dark months of winter, they wore longer and thick sleeves. On the top of the base layers, the men wore tunics, and the outer garments were long and thick, draping down to the knees. For some individuals, the tunics might have been patterned, and they may have had a significant symbol that was woven into the garments, especially in the more significant members of society.
Regarding men’s trousers, they were relatively simple, with no pockets. Some were tight, and others were loose-fitting. They were made of linen and wool, all locally produced. And surprisingly, the underwear for men was mostly made of linen and wool. The reason for this was because the linen is very comfortable on the skin than wool. Individuals in the lower social circles would, however, wear underwear made of wool because it was cheaper.
In the 1980s, however, men would wear leggings and wool wrappings that reached down to their feet and ankles.
In battle, men wore thick cloaks thicker than tunics – these were made of animal skin during the long voyages, allowing them to keep warm during or ahead of the battle. They also wore strong leather belts around their waists to hold their weapons in place. The belt would also hold axes, swords, and other smaller items used in pillages and battles.
They also wore thick leather body armor to offer more protection from axes and sword strikes. To protect the head, they wore metal helmets. What they wore wasn’t overly heavy, though, because they were needed to enhance maneuverability during battle.
Did Vikings wear helmets in battle?
Viking costumes all over the world would show that the helmets worn in battle were horned, but the truth is that the pugnacious Scandinavians wore helmets. Archaeological evidence from 1943 in Norway shows that the Vikings may have worn iron helmets with a guard designed around the nose and the eyes, but with no horns.
Interestingly, the popular images around the strapped Viking’s horned helmets date to the 1800s when Sweden’s Gustav Malmström’s artist depicted Viking headgear with horns. This was followed by Carl Emil Doepler, a costume designer, back in the 1870s, hence the birth of the horned Viking horned helmet stereotype.