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Updated: May 12

DISCLAIMER: I am sharing with the world wide web what I have learned, used and what are my preferences when creating with wool. I, in no way condone nor abhor the use of man-made material for textiles.

It is no surprise Norway will have a centuries old purebred sheep.


Vikings history, early on, was oral. Stories and legends passed down from generation to generation at gatherings until the first written account of Viking heroes, sea adventures, triumphs, defeats, legends, pagan rituals and day to day living/survival was written during the 12th century by Icelandic Viking settlers.

All other written accounts predating the 12th century were recorded by those affected directly or indirectly by Viking invasions and their devastating raids only describing the savagery of the intruder, the pillages, the slaughter of the villagers and their possessed demon like appearance.

The 793 A.D. invasion and sacking at Lindisfarne in Northumbria, modern day Northern England and South-East Scotland, were recorded by the surviving monks. The infamous "EVIL" description of the barbaric actions of the Vikings, named the "Great Heathen Army" and carved onto the Doomsday Stone, the coming of the end of days, is how the Norse are still known today.

Images of ax wielding Vikings carved on the Dooms Day Stone. (Lindisfarne Priory Museum)

‘Here were dreadful forewarnings come over the land of Northumbria,

and woefully terrified the people:

these were amazing sheets of lightning and whirlwinds,

and fiery dragons were seen flying in the sky."

The Nordic Countries...

Scandanavia, the Norse Lands, remote group of islands and peninsula in the northern hemisphere consisting of Norway, Iceland, Finland, Sweden and Denmark. Well known for its brilliant flickering spirals of light across the sky, its natural hot pools in subzero temperatures and its seemingly never-ending winters.

In this region there is a purebred Norwegian sheep, the Spaelsau. Proven to have existed over 1000 years ago.

Archeological Discovery...

In 2020 a Viking burial chamber of a young woman was discovered at Hestnes in Northern Norway. It was an uncommon grave for Norwegian Viking culture dating somewhere between the 9th and 10th century. It was the sole chamber grave at excavation site. The burial mound chamber, the burial rituals and offerings were known Danish practices. The treasures for her journey to the afterlife were a pair of wool combs, a spindle, brooches and beads leading to believe she was a highly regarded textile worker amongst her tribe. Despite the finding of the undisturbed burial site with identifiable traits it was an 11cm (4in.) remnant of embroidered fabric where most of the excitement was directed to.

Remnant of a woven diamond tweed variation found in grave. (Image: NTNU University Museum)

In total there were six woollen fabrics and two linen when the excavation concluded. A brooch pinning layers of fabrics suggests the woman was buried fully dressed in her most treasured possessions of clothing- undergarments, dress and top layer. The top layer may have been a cloak or a cape.

Embroidered wool remnant atop of brooch. (Image: NTNU University Museum)

Unlike other cloth remnants found in Viking burial sites in the past, the unusual fragments of stitching, embroidery, the theory of bead work for embellishment and a narrow braided edge is a rare insight to Scandinavian women garments in the 9th to 10th centuries.