Viking and early middle ages Northern Scandinavian textiles proven to be made with hemp
Peer reviewed, Journal article
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Nowadays most plant textiles used for clothing and household are made of cotton and viscose. Before the 19th century however, plant textiles were mainly made from locally available raw materials, in Scandinavia these were: nettle, hemp and flax. It is generally believed that in Viking and early Middle Ages Scandinavia hemp was used only for coarse textiles (i.e. rope and sailcloth). Here we present an investigation of 10 Scandinavian plant fibre textiles from the Viking and Early Middle Ages, believed to be locally produced. Up till now they were all believed to be made of flax. We show that 4 textiles, including two pieces of the famous O¨ verhogdal Viking wall-hanging are in fact made with hemp (in three cases hemp and flax are mixed). This indicates that hemp was important, not only for coarse but also for fine textile production in Viking and Early Middle Ages in Scandinavia.