© David Freeman


In prehistory there were limits on the variety of materials that could have been used for clothing. In Britain we are short on finds, due to the environment. On the continent, textiles have been preserved in ice, bogs, and salt. The graphic above is a selection of cloths from a Hallstatt salt mine, in Austria.
Bronze age textiles have been preserved in waterlogged conditions in Denmark.

Early stone age, most clothes were skins and furs, by late stone age there are bast fibres (outer casing of a plant stalk) being used as a textile since Neolithic times. In Northern Europe and Scandinavia, flax (Linum usitatissimum), hemp (Cannabis sativa), and nettle (Urtica dioica) have been the most common bast fibres used in textile production. During the bronze age nettles become the primary vegatable fibre, and then the domestication of sheep brings about the use of wool in quantity. By iron age white wool, dyed in bright colours, and linen, are in wide spread use.

This is a selection of surviving textiles from the continent. It also shows twill weaves, and the remains of colours.

This demonsrates twill weave patterns.
They produce a thicker textile, which is also warmer than tabby weave.

Click the graphic for a hi-res version.

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