What did they Wear?

This is an enjoyable session, as everyone gets to feel, smell, and try on an item of reproduction period clothing.

   To begin with we look at some of the evidence that tells us about clothes, with information on the display board, for example:

   Then we explain that all clothing - even shoes had to be made by hand, so they were very precious. We talk about colour, quality and quantity being important to show off wealth and status, and we consider what materials were available to be used for clothes and shoes.

   Finally, comes the fun part - trying things on! Everyone collects an item of clothing from the basket and is asked to guess what it is made from and if they can work out how it is worn. The two volunteers who selected the under-garments are then dressed by their friends in a full outfit - including shoes, belts, hats and cloaks. As each item goes on the 'model' a brief description of it is given and any interesting facts, as well as the period name for that item. For example: shoes or scos (shoss) were made from leather and each foot was the same shape - only by wearing them did they become 'left' and 'right'.

   We also briefly touch on religious significance in clothing, such as Muslim women wearing the Hijab which is very similar to the Anglo-Saxon Wimpel. From the 7th century onwards England was firmly Christian and this was reflected in the way people dressed, lived and worked (unless you're a Viking!).

Key Facts:
Everything hand-made - thread spun, cloth woven, etc; Clothing does not survive - so what is left to analyse; Grave-goods; Rectitudines Singularum Personarum; New Minster Charter; Bernuthsfeld tunic etc.; languages; Christian, Jewish, Pagan differences etc.
7 years upwards
Companion Workshops:
Spinning; Dyeing; Hat-Making
Suitable Hand-Outs:
Any 'Picture to Colour' 'Clothing' Information Sheet
Drawing / Colouring-in' Activity Sheet - Man or Wífe 'Match the Clothes to their Period Names'
'Period Colours' Information Sheet  
space for getting dressed up
Best group size: