Main Menu - Misc. - Clothing/Textiles - Medieval Wales - Names - Other Medieval - Publications - Harpy Publications

This page last modified {update}

Dig That Doll! - Egtved Girl

Ok, so I should call her "Egtved Woman" to be perfectly parallel, but she was, after all, a teenager.

A relatively complete set of Bronze Age garments and accessories survived in the burial of a young woman at Egtved, Denmark, currently located and displayed at the Danish National Museum in Copenhagen. Her coffin was carved from a single tree trunk, enabling the grave to be dated very precisely by dendrochronology (tree ring dating) to 1370 BCE. An analysis of the skeleton suggests that she was 16-18 years old and stood approximately 160 cm tall. Her garments consist of a short sleeved top, a short wrap-around "string" skirt, a separate belt, unshaped foot wrappings (possibly originally covered by leather shoes), and a variety of jewelry and accessories. She was wrapped in a woven blanket (which may or may not have served as a cloak), and then in a cow hide.

Here's another view, where she's wearing the "blanket" as a cloak.

The Garments and Accessories

The Skirt

This type of "string skirt" is found in several Danish Bronze Age graves and seems to be associated with younger women. There is a woven band with extra weft loops drawn through to form a long fringe which is then caught together with a cord at the bottom. The fringed section is long enough to wrap around the waist twice, with an unfringed section left at each end to tie it. Some other examples of this type of skirt appear to have small metallic tubes threaded on the cords.

The Top

A number of minor variations of the cut of the top are found in various Danish Bronze Age sites. It is made from a rectangle of cloth that is cut, folded, and sewn in a curious fashion. Usually the length is extended at the bottom with an added band and there is sometimes decorative sewing on the shoulders or neck.

The Cloak or Blanket

It isn't clear whether the large rectangular cloth that the girl was wrapped in served as a cloak or whether it was included simply as a shroud. (Similar men's burials often include a similar cloth even though the men also wear cloaks.) It's included here as a cloak, fastened by a pin.

The Belt

Although the skirt has a belt as a part of it, there is also a separate belt made of woven wool with a large round bronze plaque. (The plaque is not technically a buckle -- the belt was tied to one side while the plaque was centered at the front.) This belt is missing in the above images -- I couldn't find it when I was taking pictures.

The Hair Band

The girl wore a twisted woolen cord around her head, presumably to fasten her hair. (This is missing also in the above pictures.)

The Foot Wraps and Shoes

There were several irregularly shaped pieces of cloth wrapped around her feet functioning as socks, accompanied by fragments of leather. The shoes for the doll are based on those from a man's grave at Trindhøj and, like most surviving shoes of this era, are made from a single piece of leather, sewn up at the heel and toe and tied across the instep.

The Jewelry

There were several pieces of bronze jewelry in the grave: an earring made from a simple loop of wire and two bracelets, one made from a thick piece of wire and the other from a flat sheet with decoration that narrows down into to hooks to fasten it. Although there were no pins found in the grave, I have added one to fasten the cloak similar to those found in other graves: a simple "safety pin" type design with a flattened bar for the back.

The Accessories

The girl had several personal objects buried with her. One is a a comb made of horn, with a decorated top formed like a half-circle and the teeth coming off the flat side. These combs were typically decorated with pierced decorations and sometimes with small carved dots. The comb was tucked under her belt when she was buried. She also had a bronze awl set in a wooden handle which was placed along with some unidentified textile items in a round box, shaped something like a hat-box. In fact, there were two boxes in the grave: one made from birch-bark (which is reproduced here) and one that appears to be made from thin bent wood (which is not included).

In the above pictures, she also has a drop-spindle on which she's spinning wool. It's a gift from a modern admirer, not part of the original grave equipment.

On the Materials and Colors

All of the surviving textiles are made from wool, as are the reproductions here. They are all currently brown in color, and while this primarily appears to be the natural color of the wool, it is also possible that they have been dyed by the tannic acid in the grave (from the oak coffin). The doll's clothes use natural white and a dark red that is plausible from available dyes. Note that my purpose in changing the colors was to make the outfit more visually interesting, not because there is a historic basis for these colors.

The bronze objects have been reproduced in copper instead.


Much of the original literature on this material is in Danish. Christensen discusses the dendrochronology studies. Jørgensen includes a brief catalog of the contents of the grave. Thomsen gives a detailed report on the site itself, including photographs, but does not discuss the clothing particularly.

Broholm (1943) is a fairly exhaustive catalog of all Danish Bronze Age material known at the time, including photographs and sketches but no real discusion of construction. Broholm and Hald (1932** in Danish) and Broholm and Hald (1940 in English) contain largely the same material, including an extensive discussion of garment construction and weaving technology. Hald (1950 in Danish) and Hald (1980 in English) contain essentially identical material, but of the Egtved burial only the top is discussed. Schlabow (1937 in German) includes a very detailed discussion of Bronze Age weaving techniques, with many useful diagrams. Schlabow (1962 in German) contains some of the same material but discusses general types rather than specific garments.

This site belongs to Heather Rose Jones. Contact me regarding anything beyond personal, individual use of this material.

Unless otherwise noted, all contents are copyright by Heather Rose Jones, all rights reserved.