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Herjolfsnes no.41

This garment has been a subject of disputes since it was discovered. From the skeleton remains of the person buried in this dress, is was estimated that the owner was approximately 160 cm tall, and rather strongly built, which suggests it was a man. However, the sex could not be precisely estimated. Norlund, the scientist from the excavating expedition, thought this was a mens garment, based on the pattern. However, later on the dress appeared in the literature as a woman's cotehardie because of its closefitted sleeves and big circumference of the bottom hem.

We believe that it was a man's dress, for the following reasons. A woman's cotehardie would have to be very close-fitted to the body, which this garment does not satisfy. First, its circumference around the waist is close to 1 m. Secondly, it has no buttons, so it had to be put on through the head, so it could not be close-fitted. The garment was cut with scissors on the back from the neck down, but that was a usual burial practice to fit a stiff corpse into a costume.

The front and back gores were made of 2 triangles. Each side was made of 4 pieces that could create an illiusion of a closer fit to the waist, but the garment was still quite loose, since waist circumference was 1 m. The dress extended down to the ankles. This is another find from the late 14th century Herjolfnes, Greenland.


Click for bigger pattern image


Based on: Meddelelser om Gronland, Buried Norsemen at Herjolfsnes; Dr.phil. Poul Norlund; Copenhagen 1924; C.A.Reitzel

Patterns of extant garments - Undergowns, part 1
Copyright Martina a Martin Hřibovi 2006