Viking Bras

On my re-enactment group’s yahoo group this morning was a link to an article claiming that Viking women wore metal bras.  Naturally, as this conjured up visions of lanky Swedish blondes in chain-mail bikinis, the story ended up all over the media.  Aptly summarized with additional sarcasm here

All I can say is that I’ve worn tortoise brooches:

and in no way do they constitute a bra.  There is a pin in the back of them, to go through material.  They are ideally suited – with that rounded, hollow interior, for holding up large quantities of fabric.  They are not at all – with that pin which closes off the back – suited for holding up a person’s bust.  Owch!  Just the thought!

I’m not saying that it’s impossible that Viking women wore their tortoise brooches directly over their nipples, as in this reconstruction

I’m just saying that that doesn’t make them a bra.  You’d have to have teeny tiny little pre-pubescent breasts to be covered by these things, and they couldn’t fit *inside* the brooch anyway because of the pin.  Also, having worn a hangarok, I can say that it’s a stupid piece of clothing already, and this just makes it even more ridiculous.  There’s no reason why the blue woolen material couldn’t be up under the armpits where it would at least keep the back a little bit warm.  And if the tortoise brooches were being pinned through woolen overdress and linen underdress, that would at least be using them for something they are good at – holding up material.  If you chose to pin them over your nipples like a stripper’s tassels as well, that’s neither here nor there.

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