Kit: Hats, hoods, caps & wimples

Hats and hoods keep your head warm, so are Very Good Things.

On the other hand, caps and wimples are less useful but are very important for character reasons. All Christian women should cover their hair, unless they are very young or of rather questionable morals…

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Basic Hats/Helmet Linings

The basic hat, which can also be used as a helmet lining, is a fairly plain form-fitting domed skullcap hat. Typically made out of four or more panels, although we sometimes just use two panels when making helmet linings. It can be made out of sheepskin, fur, leather, wool or linen. A similar style of hat can be created using nalbinding. Decoration can be added using embroidery, bands of contrasting colour, tablet weaving or fur trim. We'll try to put up our pattern sometime. In the meantime, here's some links:

Fancy Hats

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Phrygian Hats

This style of hat is Anglo-Saxon specific, and is highly debated. It often turns up in manuscripts (as pictured) being worn by warriors, which makes some people feel it is meant to be a helmet. There were helmets that looked like this in 4th century BC Greece, however no helmet like this has been found in England, or in our period. Another theory says that the design is related to the Roman mystery cult of Mithras, a god popular among Roman soldiers who wore a hat like this. It is possible the style was still popular among the Britons, centuries later, and the Saxons stole the design from them. It's all a bit tricky, and is discussed further on the helmets page. If you want to make one, a simple two-piece construction (as in fig. 5 on this page(offsite)) is probably best.

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Pointy hats

This style of long conical hat is a very Viking style, particularly common on Gotland picture stones, and possibly a specifically Eastern or Rus style (the Hudud al-'Alam says the Rus "wear woollen bonnets with tails let down behind their necks"). Sometimes they can be elaborately decorated with embroidery and silver terminals (there were several terminal finds at Birka). Hauk's hat was made in two pieces, then the fur trim was added. It could also be made using a circle with a cut-out segment.

  • Check out this discussion in the forum about pointy hats and how to attach the fur.
  • This Rus Male Costume page has a picture of very fancy set of Rus kit, and has lots of references about the hat here.
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Hoods

Separate hoods are always a bit debated about how widely spread they were during our period, as the words for hood and hat are used pretty much interchangeably and hoods can also be attached to cloaks. But we like hoods because they are very practical for keeping the rain out or the sun off the back of your neck. Avoid long pointed hoods, as these are later than our period. We are hoping to put up our own guidelines to making hoods soon. In the meantime, these webpages offer good advice:

Wimples, Headscarves & Caps

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All good Christian adult women were encouraged to cover their hair in our period. Ideally, all of your hair should be covered. The most common way to do this is to wear a headscarf or wimple. In the sagas headscarves are called sveigr from the word sveigja, to bend or twist, and there seem to have been different styles of wearing them. Among pagan Vikings, married women covered their hair with a knotted piece of fabric. We are hoping to put up our own guide to making wimples soon. For now, check out Regia Anglorum's Basic Clothing Guide - Headwear, which has loads of pictures of different styles of head covering, and/or this page from Rosie & Glenn Historical Costumes.

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Wimples and large flowing scarves were probably outdoor/'best' wear, as contemporary drawings often show them being worn over a lady's cloak. Indoors, women may have worn plainer and more practical caps. A cloth cap was found at Jorvik ("the Coppergate cap"), and is assumed to be another form of female head-covering. These are probably the faldr of the sagas, a type of headwear that literally means "fold", and is sometimes described as keisti ("bulge, swollen, curved"- after being filled with all the lady's hair). As before, go check out Regia Anglorum's Basic Clothing Guide - Headwear for a whole bunch of cool pictures of how to wear a cap.

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