So a while back I bought some Diamond Twill fabric, it was a good price and I got it in blue (because Blue) and thought I’d probably make a Norse Viking-era Apron Dress from it (as many archeological sources point to apron dresses being diamond twill and blue), but my friend Maggie said “You don’t *have* to do Viking” and that got me thinking… where and when was this fabric used?
Google Scholar found me an excellent article:
“Early medieval textile remains from settlements in the Netherlands. An evaluation of textile production” by Chrystel R. Brandenburgh in the Journal of Archaeology in the Low Countries May 2010, pp 41-78
Which was a great read, I recommend it for anyone interested in textile manufacturing and early period textiles. (by the way, over half the textiles found were diamond twills and there were 6 hats found, probably men’s in diamond twill with red silk braid embroidery on the seams. Kinda dorky looking, kinda want to make one.) Anyway, in the article she mentioned that the area of the Low Countries surveyed was boardered by the Merovingian’s to the south. Ah ha, I’ve heard of Merovingians, and I like the way the word sounds so I put in a new search on Merovingian. Because France!
Several articles later (ah Queen Aregonde/Arnegundis, how lovely your grave is!) I have a full blown research project going. 🙂 I’ll keep you posted.
Discoveries thus far:
Paired small broaches – this is an area for questions. One broach at the neck is easy to figure out where it goes, but a pair? Could be worn in necktie formation; one on top of the other, or bowtie formation, left and right. They are near the neck/upper chest region. I’ve come up with several possibilities and will be looking for evidence to support or deny them.
- two broaches at keyhole neckline, one on top of the other
- One broach on the under-tunic neckline, another on the over-tunic (lower, having them right on top of each other would be uncomfortable and also no one would see the pretty brooch!)
- Brooches on either side of the neckline opening, connected by a tie? pinned to a piece of fabric to hold the opening closed?
- Brooches on either side of the neckline decoratively, not serving any function (I don’t think this is likely, but have to consider it a possibility, many ladies wear brooches now a days that serve no function other than decoratively after all.)
- Keyhole neckline pulled open and ‘lapels’ fastened open by brooches (fun, but not much precedence for that idea.)
- Brooches used to hold veil to dress on either side of the neckline
- Brooches used to fasten a cape or wrap
Paired bow brooches – in the Roman period these were worn at the shoulders, probably to fasten a peplos-like garment (read: bog dress). In the Merovingian period, however, they move lower on the body, still in pairs. By the end of the period They are near the thighs and have amulets a set distance from them at the knees (perhaps suspended from a belt?) of note Aregonde did not have them. She did, however, have a super awesome belt buckle which re-enforces my early assumption that the bow broaches have become associated with belt furniture in the Merovingian period. Just an assumption now, we’ll see if I can get any evidence behind that.
One of the graves near Aregonde’s had a dark blue pleated wool tunic. Exciting 🙂
Lovely silks and gold thread embroidery (need to check my Gold Thread research files because I’m pretty sure I’ve got something about Aregonde’s embroidery in there too.)
Read an article on glass beads in the Merovingian era; “Indo-Pacific glass beads from the Indian subcontinent in Early Merovingian graves (5th-6th century AD)” by Constantin Pion and Bernard Gratuze in Archaeological Research in Asia (2016) pp 51-64. According to their findings not only were glass beads from Africa and India found amongst more locally produced or Mediterranean beads, 93% of them were green. (There are some large polychrome beads found, mostly single beads with lots of smaller single colored beads that are mostly green.) and lots of tiny beads in headdresses or positions that may indicate they were sewn onto clothing or veils. It looks like beads were very popular in the early Merovingian and then fell out of fashion toward the end of the era (Of note our friend Aregonde did not have beads.)
Given the very scant material available on Merovingian costume, I’m also looking at Norse, Anglo-Saxon, Alamannic and Thuringian finds and some finds and art from Byzantium and Italy (as those were cultures admired and perhaps copied.) Fun!