Questions of Origin - History

My first glimmer of interest in VK was sparked by a story of historical origins.

I was told a lie (perhaps an honest lie) that the technique was used to make Viking armor that resembled medieval chain mail. That sounded so fascinating! Hungry for more specific and reputable knowledge, I discovered no sign that these chain mail-like tunics ever existed.

This was disappointing. But I kept digging in the vast fields of the internet. (I have not yet found any books that handle the subject.) I became excited when I came across an article by Julia McGowan, who shared my questions. (Read the original article here.) This web page was my gateway to so much more information.

Here is what I have learned so far:
  • VK is known more specifically as trichinopoly chain.
  • Examples of this chain have been found in archaeological sites in Scandinavia and also in the British Isles. Many of these date back to at least the 9th and 10th centuries -- the time of the Vikings.
  • VK seems to have been used to make bracelets, trim on clothes, and other decorative items. A scourge has also been found. (See below.) It may have made other objects, but probably not armor.
  • Nalebinding and loop-in-loop chain are often confused with trichinopoly chain but are different techniques.
Picture from the British Museum archives

More than this can be said, but I shall leave the more curious readers to do their own reading. If you are one of those intrepid few, I highly recommend you begin with the sources below. If you have any information you can share, particularly from highly reputable sources (like an archaeologists' report), I would be delighted if you would share in the comments, or via e-mail.

Please also check out this excellent article, which is long but detailed.

Selected bibliography "Viking Knit - Fabulous or Fraud?" By Julia McGowan "Viking Knit - How Did It Develop?" by Julia McGowan or "A Research Journey: Trichinoploy Chainwork: Is It Viking Chain Knitting?" By Lady Apollonia Voss "Trichinopoly (or Viking Wire Weaving)" By Jen Haley Scourge photo. British Museum

Last Revised 3/23/2015


  1. Exactly what I was looking for, exactly when I looked for it. Thank you for the sources!

  2. Thanks for the links and info!