Authentic Viking Clothing in “The Northman”

Nille Glæsel from Tønsberg, Norway, has been researching Viking clothing for years, and sells patterns through her website. She posts on Facebook as NilleViking Glaesel. Because of her knowledge, she was tapped to work on the Viking-themed historical action film, The Northman, by the director Robert Eggers.

Glæsel traveled to Ireland and worked for nearly a year on the project. She posted a YouTube video about her adventure. She praised the director for his search for authenticity. “He takes in the best people. He takes in the best professors from archaeology and history to make sure to show Viking culture as correct as possible. And Linda Muir, the designer who called me, she is a superwoman–or maybe a Viking woman.” Glæsel praised the cutters and all of the people involved in making 1500 costumes for the movie. There are a lot of skilled people around Europe who were involved.

Glæsel has a YouTube channel with several videos about making Viking clothing and shoes. In her video about the Viking movie, she mentions her tutorials and added that with her patterns you can “print them out, gather them, find your size, cut it out, start sewing, tonight! I like her enthusiasm.

Facebook screenshot. Nille Glæsel’s profile photo. Her free online Viking costume sewing tutorials are here:…/UCyfccznWuQQxa9Hmpm10QVg/videos

My husband and I watched The Northman, which has a high violence quotient; I was happy I was not seeing it on the big screen. At least a couple of heads were cut off (some horse heads too). At one point we had the subtitles turned on to catch a character’s words, and a common phrase onscreen was, “screaming and frantic chatter continues.” After about a half hour, my husband commented, “I’m sort of in to it, but this has to be the dumbest movie ever.” But–we agreed–right after that the plot got much more interesting.

I was interested to see the textiles and clothing portrayed in the film. When we first see Nicole Kidman, who plays Gudrún, the mother of Amleth, the main character, she is making a card-woven band.

I wonder if she knows what she is doing, or just moving the cards. Screenshot from The Northman.

I read that many yards of handwoven wool were sourced from around Europe. “Look at the beautiful diamond twill,” I said to my husband, as I stopped the film to take a photo of the TV.

Once Gudrún revealed some unexpected sides to her character, I totally understood why Nicole Kidman would be interested in the role. And look! A warp-weighted loom is in the scene.

This dramatic scene between Gudrùn and her son Amleth was worth wading through a lot of blood and gore up to this point.

And here’s one more Viking textile item that might be recognized by many of my friends reading this. In the trailer for the film, note that Fjolnr, uncle of Amleth, comes to kill the king astride a horse and wearing a long pile mantle–an Icelandic varafeldur.

Once I watched the film, it was fun to watch these two descriptions of the costuming: “Linda Muir Breaks Down Alexander Skarsgård and Anya Taylor-Joy’s Costumes in ‘The Northman’” and “The Northman Costumes: Are They Accurate?

There’s still time before Halloween to make some Viking costumes, though probably not enough time to weave the fabric, too…

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