Textiles for War – University of Copenhagen

Textiles for War

Textiles for War was carried out as an independent postdoctoral research project by Susan Möller-Wiering, co-financed by CTR, the Danish Research Council for the Humanities, the research project Iron Age in Northern Europe and Landesmuseum Schloss Gottorf, Germany. The weapon deposits in bogs contain thousands of weapons and other objects. It is less well known that some of these weapon deposits also contain collections of textiles. The textiles are now mostly mineralized through the contact with metals especially weaponry without contact with human bodies, but complete or almost complete costumes have also been found.

The aim of the Textiles for War project was to analyse all the textiles from the weapon deposits Illerup Ådal, Nydam, Thorsberg in Jutland and Vimose on Funen. The purpose was to view these textiles together, not only as finds belonging to specific locations, but as a complex of their own: as Textiles for War. The project studied the specific characteristics of the textiles – i.e. their weave type, thread type, colours and qualities – and provided an interpretation regarding their original function. Each of the weapon deposits has specific features and the project examined whether the differences reflected varying conditions for preservation, or rather differences in chronology or geography. The analysis of textile remains from the four Roman Iron Age weapon deposits has demonstrated that textiles were a substantial part of the ritual destruction of the enemy’s weapons: soldier’s clothing and sacks were wrapped around the weapons before their deliberate ritual deposition. These results have shed new light on Early Iron Age textiles, aggression and cults.


Susan Möller-Wiering: "War and Worship: Textiles from 3rd-4th century AD Weapon Deposits in Denmark and Northern Germany", Oxbow Books, (2011)