Embroidery as we in the SCA understand it wasn't really adopted by the Vikings until the first half of the ninth century. At that point the pervasive influence of the foreign cultures with which the Vikings intermingled so freely began to assert itself in both technological and art-historical ways. In textile and clothing ornamentation, the Vikings began half-heartedly to imitate their neighbors at that time. Two distinctive embroidery styles emerged, a style influenced by the lands to the west (represented mostly by finds at Bjerringhøj and Jorvík) and a style influenced by the lands to the east (represented by finds at Birka and Valsgärde). (Carolyn Priest-Dorman -

Materials Used

  • wool thread and ground
  • linen thread and ground
  • gold thread

Stitches and Techniques

  • Stem Stitch
  • Surface Couching
  • Chain Stitch
  • Vandyke stitch
  • herringbone


During various periods, Viking work was influenced by Byzantine design. There are also examples of floral and figurative work.

Extant Pieces

  • Mammen cloak and tunic
  • Oseberg hangings and garments
  • Mid-ninth century Viking: Embroidery on the tunics of the queen and servant buried in the Oseberg ship: partly applique work. Details still unpublished.
  • Mid-tenth century Viking: gold embroidery thread found with the garment materials of the man buried in the Gokstad ship.
  • Late tenth century (?) Viking: Valsgarde Grave 15, Sweden, embroidered edging for cloak in spun silver thread.
  • Early eleventh-century Jorvik (York): clumsy chain stitch on small samite "relic bag."
  • Gilt Leather Intarsia Panel and Closeup - 15th C, Historiska Museet, Sweden
  • Intarsia Wall Hanging - 15th C, Historiska Museet, Sweden
  • Icelandic Altar Hanging