Posts Tagged: Bertille

Reconstructing the Arnegunde Kaftan Card Woven Trim – some background

I have yet to find an image of the card weaving from the Arnegunde kaftan. I had hoped with the recent conservation work being completed, an image would surface. But no love there. So I will need to piece together the bits and pieces.

The most recent published mention of the card weaving is from Rast-Eicher’s article:

The tablet-woven band is made of at least 100 tablets and is about 6.5 cm wide. Nearly the entire width of one fragment was preserved – with just a few threads missing – but this one is otherwise hardly visible. The band is brocaded with a triple silk thread (z-spun) and displays a pattern of diagonals and lozenges (Fig. 33.3). (2010)

So color me rather intimidated by the “over 100 cards” thingy.  I will try a run at the design with fewer cards and make the piece in wool for a test run.

Sadly, Peter Collingwood did not talk about either the Arnegunde or the Bathilde/Bertille weavings in his book. He did describe the similar Snartemo V textiles from the 6th century. For a refresher here are the late 5th/early 6th century card weaving found at Chelles. Both of these were buried with high status women, so would probably be a good source for inspiration.

A wide piece of woolen cardweaving from Chelles





The following piece has similarities to the Snartemo V finds with the interlaced lozenges.

Woolen cardweaving from Chelles





Links to websites with similar styles of card weaving:



Rast-Eicher, A. (2010) Garments for a Queen. North European Symposium for Archaeological Textiles X. 208-210


Terms: , , Arnegonde

7th-century Merovingian cardweaving from Chelles

The Albert Bono Museum in Chelles, France has several examples of extant card weaving.


This band is a composite of three individually woven pieces. The central portion is two colors of wool, with embroidered Trees of Life between the animal motifs. The smaller two-color edge pieces are of silk. I am not convinced that the central portion is card woven, as there doesn’t appear to be the twining that you get with card weaving.The warp and weft appear to be at right angles to each other.

You can clearly see that the edge pieces are twined. There is an interpretation and graphed pattern here and a different one here.


These bands were found with the bones of Bathilde.

These two bands are in wool, both with three colors. It is commonly considered to be similar to the Snartemo Grave V weavings. You can clearly see the long floats in these bands. You can find patterns here, here, here, here, and here. Oh, and here, here, here, and here.


Card weaving decorates the tunic attributed to Bertille.

This silk band, in red, yellow and brown is 9mm wide. It has a design of twining bird forms. You can find patterns for this card weaving here, here, here, and here.


Bathilde and Bertille – a bit of history

It is rare to find surviving examples of clothing from the early medieval period. In the textile relics of the Chelles Abbey we have the lucky concurrence of well preserved garments and a fairly extensive textual record of both women, St. Bathilde and St. Bertille.

Bathilde was an Anglo-Saxon woman captured in a raid and sold as a slave in Gaul in the early 7th Century. She was purchased by Erchinaold, then mayor of the palace of Neustria. She came to the attention of King Clovis II of Neustria and Burgundy and was made his consort (Harris, 1998). This began her career as one of the most powerful Merovingian queens.

She used her power as Queen to build powerful networks among the patrician Gallo-Roman aristocrats. Bathilde aggressively managed the placing of bishops and established monasteries throughout the Kingdom. Her most lasting legacy was in the Royal villa turned abbey of Chelles on the Marne River (Hen, 1995). This became her domain when she was forced into retirement sometime around the 660s (Harris, 1998). Bathilde died in 690 and was thereafter made a saint. Garments worn by Bathilde form part of the reliquary of Chelles.

Bertille was born in the province of Soissons in a patrician family. Bathilde chose her to be the first Abbess of Chelles after being trained in the Abbey of Jouarre in Brie-sur-Marne (Harris, 1998). Bertilla died in about 700 and many miracles were attributed to her after her death.

The Chausable of of Bathilde.