Aarhus Universitetsforlag

Woven into the Earth

Textile Finds in Norse Greenland

A part of the subject area

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296 pages ill., 1st edition, 3rd impression
ISBN 87 7288 935 7



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About the book

One of the century's most spectacular archaeological finds occurred in 1921 when Poul Nørlund recovered dozens of garments from a graveyard in the Norse settlement of Herjolfsnæs, Greenland.

Preserved intact for centuries by the permafrost, these medi­aeval garments display remarkable similarities to western European costumes of the time. Previously, such costumes were known only from contemporary illustrations, and the Greenland finds provided the world with a close look at how ordinary Europeans dressed in the Middle Ages.

  Fortunately for Nørlund's team, wood has always been extremely scarce in Greenland, and instead of caskets, many of the bodies were found swaddled in multiple layers of cast-off clothing.  

Eighty years of technical advances and subsequent excavations have greatly added to our understanding of the Herjolfsnæs discoveries.

In Woven into the Earth Else Østergård recounts the dramatic story of Nørlund's excavation in the context of other Norse textile finds in Greenland. She describes what the finds tell us about the materials and methods used in making the clothes.

The weaving and sewing techniques detailed here are surprisingly sophisticated, and one can only admire the talent of the women who employed them, especially considering the harsh conditions they worked under.

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