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Viking Sails - Viking Tents

PostPosted: Wed Aug 14, 2013 1:21 am
by Andrea L Redden
The cloth used in Viking tents is usually presumed to be a ships sails AFAIK. I think this is because all 3 surviving tent frames are from ship burials, and there was that big bundle of wool that has been theorised as being the sail/tent on the Oseberg ship. It's a reasonable theory. The cloth bundle from Oseberg wasn't/isn't in any condition to be flattened out and investigated so we have no concrete evidence either way. Linen doesn't tend to survive long burial in most cases, and I don't remember seeing any reported from either ship burial. There may therefore have been a flax or hemp sail that disintegrated before the ships were uncovered. No evidence either way.

Has anybody on these lists had much contact with any of the reproduction Viking ships? Are their sails wool, or linen? If wool, how does the it stand up to the stresses of a sail's life? Later sails were made of linen.

I'm thinking of making a small tent to bring with me to live in on-site over the 3 Clontarf events and I'm not sure what material I should be looking at. Wool "canvas" could be problematic to source, but flax and/or hemp canvas is still available in various weights, weaves and widths.


Andrea from Australia

Re: Viking Sails - Viking Tents

PostPosted: Wed Aug 14, 2013 1:31 pm
by finnobreanan
There was a program on Public Televison, Discovery, or History Channel aired here in the US, and they experimented on a reproduced Viking ship with using wool sails. They actually discovered that they held together very well and the experiment was quite successful. I wish I could remember the details, but it has been over a year ago.

Re: Viking Sails - Viking Tents

PostPosted: Fri Aug 16, 2013 4:44 am
by Andrea L Redden
Thank-you Scott. I investigated further and it looks like there’s a bit more evidence than I thought. A VERY heavy woollen fabric, by all accounts. Not sure I’ll be able to find anything like it, or if it’s practical to transport. ... sailcloth/ ... r_and_Land
Interesting paragraph on page 175 (5) about the ‘sailors blanket’ or sjørya which sounds a bit like the Irish/Icelandic/Viking shaggy cloak. ... 20sail.htm