Kit: Socks
coppergatesock.jpg

Viking Socks

The Vikings made lovely socks using nalbinding, a technique similar in some ways to knitting or crochet. Nice archaeological examples of nalbound socks have been found, for example at Coppergate in York (shown on the left). For instructions on how make nalbound socks, please see the info and links on the nalbinding page.

Anglo-Saxon Socks

Now this is a tricky area, because it is unclear what the Anglo-Saxons used, if anything, as socks. All of the contemporary illustrations that show people's feet have them either wearing shoes or barefoot. The linguistic evidence is also unclear: the word "sock" does come from the Old English word "socc," but Anglo-Saxonists have translated this variously as "sock," "sandal" and "light shoe." In her Cloth & Clothing in Anglo-Saxon England, Gale Owen-Crocker defines "soccas" as "bag-like foot coverings, easily slipped on," but talks about them as leather objects and so essentially types of shoe. As for other ways of covering the foot, there is evidence for trousers made with integral feet (think romper suit and you won't be far wrong). Additionally, winingas, which were used to cover the lower leg, do go around the instep and so could theoretically have been wrapped around the foot. Finally, people probably stuffed straw, wool or fabric into their shoes for warmth and comfort.

Interestingly, Gale Owen-Crocker notes a single English grave find with evidence for fabric foot coverings. The grave is for two young girls, and the mud around their feet has preserved the impression of linen - but whether that comes from socks, winingas or just fabric stuffed into a shoe is impossible to tell.

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