Traditional Viking Clothing

Written by stephanie kelley
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Traditional Viking Clothing
Horned helmets have become a common symbol for Vikings in modern society. (Comstock Images/Comstock/Getty Images)

Vikings are Scandinavian seafaring warriors active across Europe and the North Atlantic from the eighth through the 11th centuries. This time period is called the "Viking Period" in Scandinavian history. Because the period is broad and the geographical spread of the Vikings was wide, it's difficult for archaeologists and scientists to agree concretely on the Vikings' traditional clothing. Through various archaeological finds and manuscripts, experts have gathered some information on traditional Viking clothing.

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A kyrtill is an outer gown or tunic. It's likely that Viking people wore kyrtills made of wool. The kyrtill, worn over undergarments, provided warmth on bitterly cold nights. The tunics were usually pulled over the head with no buttons or a simple single-button-and-loop closure at the neck. They were form fitting, but allowed for easy movement and were decorated with braids at the neck and cuff.

Horned Helmets

Though there is little direct evidence that Vikings wore horned helmets, historians believe that they were part of the Vikings' attire. Modern-day images of Vikings show muscular men in horned helmets, but these helmets may not have been used in battle at all. Viking battle helmets were likely to have been spherical helmets with a face guard. Curved horn helmets were probably reserved for ceremonies, burials or to indicate an officer's rank.


Viking accessories included belt buckles for men, suggesting they wore leather belts. Women wore various types of brooches, used to help keep dress straps in place. Brooches and other accessories were a sign of wealth and class. A Viking who had an elaborate brooch was thought to be wealthy and of a higher class. Viking female head adornment ranged from a simple knotted handkerchief for everyday use to elaborate headpieces woven with gold pieces for wedding attire.

Other Traditional Clothing

Viking children wore similar, but smaller versions of adult clothing. The fabric for Viking clothing was often woven on a family loom or was made from fabric acquired from a raid. The Viking women would spin their own fibres from wool to create the fabric to make clothing. This was a time-consuming project. Vikings often wore animal skins during the bitter cold winter months.

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