© David Freeman

Iron Age

The Iron Age in Britain starts at around 800BC, and in theory, stops when the Romans arrive in 43AD. In reality the iron age continues, as the Romans are an iron age people, but we call them by name instead of technology. During the iron age, the domestication of sheep continues, with sheep of lighter wool being bred, until the wool is fully white. This allows the creative use of dyes, with checks and stripes being woven, and in particular, the development of twill weaves. These cloths are thicker than a tabby weave, and consequently much warmer. Towards the end of the iron age the weather takes a turn for the worst, becoming colder and wetter. Heavy cloaks of wool are developed, and these are highly prized by the Romans, with comments in letters about them being sent home to Rome as presents. Running alongside wool, is linen, a much thinner and lighter cloth. This is suitable for under garments, and summer wear.

A tunic woven it twill, and strips of colour created with mosses and lichens. The trousers are modeled from a carving on a triumphal arch in Velubalis

A typical style for ladies, with extra material folded down to create extra warmth on the shoulders. Arm holes can be quite large, giving access for mothers to beast-feed young children.

A heavy weight cloak for long term use in bad weather. Lined with a tightly woven cloth to aid wind proof. Outer layer is a herringbone twill, creating a thick warm cloak. The outer surface may have been waterproofed by rubbing over with a freshly shorn fleece, coating it with lanolin. The author has worn this for some years, and can attest to being water resistant for a couple of consecutive days in very bad weather.

A light weight cloak for moving around the home territory, enough to stay dry for a while, but not very waterproof.

A set of clothes for 'best'. This cloak is a light weight summer wear, fast ned at the shoulder with a penannular broach.

Clothing used on a daily basis very quickly becomes 'normal'. It should not be a surprise that clothes are comfortable, regardless of style. In all photos, a standard style of iron age shoes is worn by both parties.