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UPDATED: Class notes

I’ve taught a very basic Merovingian women’s clothing class at a few SCA events. The handout continues to morph, and the last printing somehow got botched.

So I told my students I’d post them here. Right now, it’s mostly my drawings with some short bits of text. Eventually this will be a book, but that is a few years down the road.

Updated: WordPress is not liking my html-fu  and the link to the .pdf file was broken. Thanks to Catherine for letting me know!

Here’s the direct url.

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

Crass commercial announcement

I’m interrupting your regularly (or not so regular lately) schedule to post a crass commercial announcement. I am planning a Merovingian pilgrimage of sorts to the various museums, cathedrals and other places of interest to scholars of Merovingian material culture. It will take me a few years to save up enough to go, but you can help by purchasing one of the many apparel and gift items in my Alfalfa Press shop at Cafepress. I’m sure you’ll find something you can add to your Christmas wish list, or give to a special geek someone on Pi Day or Towel Day.

Or if you prefer a more tribal tattoo inspired design, check out my daughter’s shop, Azizah’s Art Box. She is saving up for a year as an exchange student in Germany. (Which very conveniently has many museums with Merovingian artifacts:D)

Now here is another sketch I completely recently for my class notes.

6th century fibula


a sketch – 5th c fibula – Saint Denis

I’m working on my class notes for the Merovingian Women’s clothing class that I teach. It keeps growing as I add information and will likely end up a book in a few years. Here’s one of the sketches of 5th century fibula from Grave 23, Saint Denis. These would have held a peplos closed at the shoulders. These fell out of use by mid-6th century.


Online Courses of interest to Merovingian Scholars…..

It can be very difficult to find university-level courses of interest to Merovingian scholars. Luckily, we live in a time where this information is becoming easier to find. I remember back just a few years ago when I was in graduate school and found it nearly impossible to access the troves of material that exist.

One of my major obstacles is that I don’t speak or read any other language than English. Sure, I can pick out words here or there, but true understanding eludes me. I thank the Googless for her translation services. While it still leaves a lot to be desired, it can get me 80-90% of the way there. I’ve posted some of the translations here, and wonderful readers have helped to refine the crudeness of the translations.

Another wonder of the modern era is the ever-increasing number of free online courses of interest to Merovingian scholars. I plan to avail myself of some the following in the near-future….


The Open University

Connexions – Rice University

UC Berkeley

Utah State University

Kutztown University of Pennsylvania

University of California, Irvine

University of Houston Course

Princeton University

Stanford’s iTunes site

  • itms://

Stanford’s YouTube site





Furniture of the Merovingian period – Saint Radegunde’s Reading desk


Luckily, we have some extant furniture of the Merovingian period hiding out in various museums, abbeys, and wassnames. Here are some examples….

6th Century –

Reading desk of Queen Radegund, buried at the Abbaye Sainte-Croix de Poitiers.


This desk is heavily carved with the lamb as the image of Christ, represented in the center box and symbols of the four evangelists, monogrammatiques crosses and banners with and two facing doves the chrism surround the center. I haven’t been able to find out what wood it is made of, so if anyone knows, please leave the information in comments.

Color image of Reading Desk of Saint Radegund

Color image of Reading Desk of Saint Radegund - source unknown



Black and White images of Reading Desk of Saint Radegund

Black and White images of Reading Desk of Saint Radegund - source unknown


© Ministère de la Culture (France), Médiathèque de l'architecture et du patrimoine (objets mobiliers), tous droits réservés

Happy Valentine’s Day!

I hope you find everything you are looking for in this day! I’m cooking my husband t-bone steaks for dinner because nothing says “I love you!” like yummy yummy cow.

Some tidbits on the man of the day.

Obligatory content on ancient stuff from Project Gutenberg:



BY L.W. YAGGY, M.S., AND T.L. HAINES, A.M., 1884.

UPDATED: Conjectural clothing construction


I’m getting ready to draft the pattern for my final garment of the Arnegunde outfit, the outer coat. I’ve finished the embroidery for the front opening and I’ve ordered the gold thread for the cuffs.

There are so few extant garments from this period making it hard to know how they were constructed. This is just a list of websites and resources for information on garment construction (and some other goodies).

Gallo-Roman tunic from Martres de Veyre. 1-2 C.

  • Originally published in <Audollent, A.  (1921) Les tombes des Martres-de-Veyre. Man, 21 (Nov.), 161-164.>
  •  Website in Russian by a woman who recreated the garments


Close up of a seam

A very fuzzy image of the Robe


Viking Age

  • Carolyn Priest-Dorman’s excellent website on Viking Tunic Construction which lists the following locations/eras:
    • Thorsbjerg (Scheleswig-Holstein, Germany), Migration Era;
    • Evebø (Norway), fifth century;
    • Birka (Sweden), ninth and tenth centuries;
    • Bjerringhøj (“Mammen,” Denmark), tenth century;
    • Hedeby (Schleswig-Holstein, Germany), tenth and eleventh centuries;
    • Jorvík (the Danelaw in England) and Dublin (Ireland), tenth and eleventh centuries; and
    • Viborg (Denmark), eleventh century

Persian Caftan

How I spent my day

I took some time and spent a few productive hours at the Berkeley Library where they have some great materials. I don’t have access to a university ILL service and my local library is a bit limited on what it can get.

The library has scanners available so I have a crapton of pdf files to go through once I finish on my current project.

The book I am currently reading is: Creating Community with Food and Drink in Merovingian Gaul. Bonnie Effros.

Support your friendly blogger and give cool gifts at the same time!

Crass commercial announcement –

I have an online shop where I market various types of t-shirts and various apparel and gifts. You can find medieval-inspired designs on a wide variety of apparel and gift items that would make AWESOME holiday gifts.  Just sayin!

Alfalfa Press

I call this the “Reinvest in Suvia’s Letter Act.” Do your part for the economy and this blogger! 😀

And have a great Holiday season!