Charlotte Rimstad – University of Copenhagen

17th Century Textile Finds

17th Century Copenhagen Clothes

By PhD student Charlotte Rimstad

Finds from the Moat

The making of the new Metro City Ring in Copenhagen has lately brought forward more than 2000 textile fragments from the 1660s moat fills. At the end of the 17th century, a new moat was being built in Copenhagen and the old moat was then filled with garbage from the whole city. The organic composition of the fills created excellent preservation conditions for textiles, which makes the finds unique among archaeological textile finds. Moreover, the textiles contribute with knowledge about the life of average men, women and children of Copenhagen, something that is well needed, as clothes from common Copenhageners is sparse from this period, because paintings, historic clothing collections and written sources all deal with high-class fashion. The textiles create an excellent basis for exploring the fashion of the 17th century in detail.

The Research Project

The PhD project takes its starting point in the many textiles fragments, mainly from Rådhuspladsen (City Hall Square) in Copenhagen. The textiles have been excavated by the Museum of Copenhagen and are dated to the 1660s.   Most of the textiles are cut offs, originally part of larger clothes. A large number of fragments are, however, from recognizable pieces of clothes, such as trousers, hats, gloves, jackets and stockings and a number of wigs are also included.

I shall analyze the technical details, fibers and dyes of the textiles, aiming to reveal the way they were produced as well as their original size, color, use and reuse. I will then compare the results of the analyses with historical costume collections as well as written and iconographic sources. The final results will hopefully shed a new light on the development of fashion in Copenhagen in the 17th century and on how fashion influenced the Copenhageners through all social classes, ages and genders. This may be compared to the same development in other European capitals.