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Thread: The Viking Kilt?

  1. #1
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    The Viking Kilt?

    While back on the forums there was some discussion as to just exaclty how old the Kilt was. Here is the reference from 922 I had mentioned...
    courtesy of Ibn Fadlan who partied with the Rus, a group of Swedish Vikings....

    "§ 80. I have seen the Rus as they came on their merchant journeys and encamped by the Volga. I have never seen more perfect physical specimens, tall as date palms, blonde and ruddy; they wear neither tunics nor caftans, but the men wear a garment which covers one side of the body and leaves a hand free......"

    And sinse this is a weapons forum.....
    "
    § 81. Each man has an axe, a sword, and a knife and keeps each by him at all times. The swords are broad and grooved, of Frankish sort. Every man is tatooed from finger nails to neck with dark green (or green or blue-black) trees, figures, etc."


    The site I swiped this from says the tunic could have been an Old Norse kyrtill , "a knee-length tunic with sleeves which was worn belted." The caftan is a heavy woolen overgarment, known in Old Norse as an ólpa . The "garment which covers one side of the body and leaves a hand free" could be the Norse rectangular cloak (Old Norse möttull, skikkja, or feldr ) which was worn pinned at the right shoulder leaving the sword-hand free.

    I dunno. The descriptions are fairly good, right down to the tattoeing, and that sounds an awful lot like the great kilt to me....
    Later on Ibn refers to the Rus as being very pale and red haired.....Twould seem that the strain of Vikings in the Orkneys and Shetlands had a strong effect on Scotland...heck, look at Groundskeeper Willie on the Simpsons!!!!

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    If I remember correctly, the word "Kilt" simply means pleated. I have read in the Brother Cadfael novels, set in the 1130s, where "Cadfael kilted his robe above the knees..." to give him freedom of movement or to keep it clean. The modern Greek Army dress/ceremonial uniform includes a pleated skirt, not unlike a very short, stiff kilt, and I have NO idea how ancient that style is.
    In that both the Scots and Irish had dealings with the Norse, I have no doubt that there was some cultural fashion cross-over.
    But, if it can be established when the Greeks invented the pleated skirt, it may have to go back 3,000 years or so.
    Steve Vanderburg
    "A little knowledge is a Dangerous thing." and boy, amd I dangerous!

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    Ah, Willie, my hero...

    ...in one episode, I think they have him in kilted splendour, explaining "This was just their everyday wear- in battle they'd wear the white satin wi' sequins tae blind the enemy" or words to that effect...
    Actually, there was a lot of Scots/Norse crossing going on. Some of the main Highland clans trace their ancestry to Vikings- I believe Gunn is one- who settled in the area and intermarried with the locals, and to turn a phrase became "more Celtic than the Celts."
    I think the particular Greek dress you're reffering to goes back only a few hundred years, and was not even the "native" dress over all of Greece, each island and region having their own native styles. The ancient Greeks, in battle, apparently wore very little besides armour, although some sort of tunic going down to the thigh seems to have been commonly worn.

  4. #4
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    The Orkneying Saga

    Al is right in regards to the Norse/Celtic mixture as can be seen in the Orkneying Sagas and Njals Saga.
    Even Brian Boru had Vikings marry into his family and had Viking allies at the Battle of Clontarff (and some Scots mercenaries too).
    The Gallowglass mercenaries were about half viking too, as their habit of wearing helms and armour was one that came down from their Viking ancestors. When I read Ibn Fadlans description of the Rus, the first thingthat came to me was that maybe the Kilt was something that the Norse brought to the British Isles.

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    Re: The Viking Kilt?

    [QUOTE]Originally posted by JD Charles
    [B]While back on the forums there was some discussion as to just exaclty how old the Kilt was. Here is the reference from 922 I had mentioned...
    courtesy of Ibn Fadlan who partied with the Rus, a group of Swedish Vikings....

    Since Ibn Fadlan is really Michael Crichton, can you really put much stock in the information?

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    No, Ibn Fadlan is NOT...

    [QUOTE
    Since Ibn Fadlan is really Michael Crichton, can you really put much stock in the information? [/B][/QUOTE]

    ...Michael Crichton by a long shot, 10 centuries to start with. What Mr. Crichton did is take Ibn Fadlan's manuscript and take off from that point, working it into a fantasy novel. If I were to take the writings of the apostle Luke and use it as a starting point for an action/adventure set in 1st Century CE Rome/ Roman Empire, people may call me many things, but I don't think they would mistake me for an apostle.

  7. #7
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    Thanks Al

    >>>Since Ibn Fadlan is really Michael Crichton, can you really put much stock in the information?<<<

    This is EXACTLY why you cannot rely on information from the internet. Somebody who doesn't have much knowledge of a topic can and will weigh in like an expert based on an erroneous idea they get in their head. I call it the Cliff Claven Syndrome.....
    There is one website out here that has the "Celtic" Creation myth on it. Only problem is it is the Norse creation myth of Ymir and Bori. Nobody knows what the Celtic creation myth was because it was never written down.
    As for Ibn Fadlan he was a real historical person and he did write down his experiences. It is called the Risala. Indeed, Ibn Fadlan is not even the ONLY Arab to travel through the Viking world and write a long commentary on it. There is another Arabian manuscript by another arab travellor who wrote of his own experiences which took place in Fadlans lifetime!
    Crichton decided to use Fadlan's real life commentaries as a background to retell the story of Beowulf, as a friend of his was complaining that Beowulf was dull. Crichton did the research, and decided to tell the tale as scene by an outsider. It made for a wonderful book, and a darn good Viking movie, albiet a film full of anachronisms.

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    So, you're saying there was really no such thing as a spangenkilt?

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    Re: Thanks Al

    Originally posted by JD Charles
    This is EXACTLY why you cannot rely on information from the internet. Somebody who doesn't have much knowledge of a topic can and will weigh in like an expert based on an erroneous idea they get in their head. I call it the Cliff Claven Syndrome....




    It made for a wonderful book, and a darn good Viking movie, albiet a film full of anachronisms. [/B]

    I apologize. I see now that I was mistaken.

    I did happen to see the movie, and I thought I was horrible. I would much rather watch "Eric the Viking"

  10. #10
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    Give "Eric the Viking" credit...

    ...the clothes, armour and especially the weapons looked a lot more correct for the Viking era. I had to laugh at the part where the village blacksmith and swordmaker is to leave with the party and the woman in the village are looking incredibly dejected...

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