Encyclopedia of Medieval Dress and Textiles

Get access Subject: History
Edited by: Gale Owen-Crocker, Elizabeth Coatsworth & Maria Hayward
The single volume Encyclopaedia of Medieval Dress and Textiles of the British Isles c. 450-1450 is a unique work that intends to bring together in 582 signed articles the latest research from across the range of disciplines which contribute to our knowledge of medieval dress and textiles.

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(28 words)

Author(s): Elizabeth Coatsworth
Haberdashers' occupation was to sell ribbons, beads, purses (see pouches and purses: purses post-1100), gloves, pins, caps and toys (small-wares). See caps; guilds; hat/hatters. Elizabeth Coatsworth


(499 words)

Author(s): Elizabeth Coatsworth | Mark Chambers
This term appears only in Anglo-Norman and Latin documents. The Anglo-Norman Dictionary translates it as 'haberjet, a hauberk-like cloth', and offers as an example the line 'Cuvert ert d'un mantel de menu haubergié, / E descuvert li erent les jambes e li pié' (where menu means 'fine') from a verse life of Thomas Becket c. 1174. The term also occurs in the Magna Carta (see cloth ). The Anglo-Norman Dictionary follows the most extensive study of this term, by E. M. Carus-Wilson, as seeing it related to Middle English words such as hauberk and haubergeon (a coat or …


(29 words)

Author(s): Elizabeth Coatsworth
See nuns, monks, convents and monasteries: the monastic orders and their costumes. Elizabeth Coatsworth

Hair accessories, post-1100

(605 words)

Author(s): Maria Hayward
There is quite a lot of evidence relating to hair styles for the period from c. 1300 from brasses and other visual sources. For men who were depicted in armour, their hair was not visible but the effigies of men depicted in fashionable dress suggest a range of styles were seen in this period. For instance, William, the second son of Edward III and Philippa of Hainault (d. 1344, York Minster) was depicted with wavy hair almost to his shoulders while John Urban ( c. 1410, St Nicholas' church, Southfleet, Kent) had a much shorter style. In contrast, women's effigies reveal a wider range of st…


(743 words)

Author(s): Cynthia Myers
Nineteen knotted silk hairnets and fragments have been found as archaeological textiles across Britain. The oldest and most numerous finds date from 11th and 12th century deposits in Waterford and Dublin, Republic of Ireland. One 13th-century hairnet was found at Cork, Republic of Ireland, while London excavations have recovered four dating from the late 13th to late 14th centuries. Three more, deposited early in the 14th century, were recovered from Perth, Scotland. Two were ornamented with darned embroidery and are the earliest examples of such work in Britain. Extrapolating from…


(113 words)

Author(s): Maria Hayward
Harlots, also known as gadlings or lorels, were a type of hose being worn in the late 14th century. The legs were joined at the crotch and they were often made in mi-parti. An indirect reference to harlots can be found in the Parson's Tale in Chaucer's Canterbury Tales (see sensuality and sexuality). It has been suggested that harlots were points but this is incorrect and based on a translation error. Maria Hayward Bibliography Cunnington, C. W., Cunnington, P. E. and Beard, C., A Dictionary of English Costume 900-1900 (London: 1960), 102-3. Scott, M., A Visual History of Costume: the fo…


(613 words)

Author(s): Kirstie Buckland
While a hat was not an essential garment, hats were worn by men of most ranks from the 13th century onward for practical reasons and as an expression of individuality and fashion. Consequently hatters worked to meet demand and to satisfy changing fashions. Made from felt, fur, leather, straw or fabric that was sometimes fulled (see fulling and fulling mills in the British Isles) or waxed for stiffness, by the 14th century hats had replaced the elaborate chaperons that had evolved from the manipulation of simple hoods. Some headgear would show specific use or rank …


(70 words)

Author(s): Elizabeth Coatsworth
Hatters were makers or sellers of hats, and members of the Hatters' Guild, later absorbed into the Haberdashers (early 16th century). The term Hatter is recorded as a surname from the early 13th century. See felthat/hattersguilds: London. Elizabeth Coatsworth Bibliography Kurath, H., Kuhn, S. M., Reidy, J. and Lewis, R. E., ed., The Middle English Dictionary (Ann Arbor, MI: 1952-2001), s. v: hatter(e) .


(6 words)

Author(s): Elizabeth Coatsworth
See mail. Elizabeth Coatsworth


(6 words)

Author(s): Elizabeth Coatsworth
See mail. Elizabeth Coatsworth


(10 words)

Author(s): Elizabeth Coatsworth
See cap; cowl; hat; hood; veil;wimple. Elizabeth Coatsworth


(6 words)

Author(s): Elizabeth Coatsworth
See pall. Elizabeth Coatsworth


(76 words)

Author(s): Elizabeth Coatsworth
A heckle (or hackle) consists of a board set with iron spikes, through which flax is pulled after it has been retted and removed from its woody outer stem by scutching. Heckling splits the flax fibre into individual filaments, in preparation for spinning. Archaeologically, it is often only the iron spikes which survive. See also linen; tools: archaeological evidence ante-1100, Ireland; tools: archaeological evidence ante-1100, England and Scotland. Elizabeth Coatsworth


(1,381 words)

Author(s): Maria Hayward | Gale R. Owen-Crocker
The helmet or helm was designed to protect the head, to identify the wearer and to act as a symbol of status. It has a long history as a key part of personal defence. Two types of helmet are attested from 7th- and 8th-century Anglo-Saxon England, all archaeological finds: skull-caps topped by free-standing metal figures representing boars have been found at Benty Grange, Derbyshire and Wollaston, Northamptonshire. The Benty Grange helmet, which was made with horn plates fitted into a metal frame, had a nose-guard. Helmets which covered t…

Hemming (1)

(317 words)

Author(s): Elizabeth Coatsworth
Hems are important sources of evidence for construction techniques, and are found from the earliest part of our period, on for example the Orkney Hood. They can be deduced on textiles on which the stitching thread (presumed linen) has not survived, from the presence and positions of stitch holes. There have been several studies of hems, notably from York in the Viking Age and 14th-century London. From York, the form of hem varied according to the type and thickness of the textile. Rolled hems, for example, were exclusive to silk textiles and found in almost …

Hemming (2)

(311 words)

Author(s): Gale R. Owen-Crocker
A hemming was a shoe made from untanned animal skin, specifically of hart hide. Its name derives from the germanic word for the skin of the hindlegs of a deer. The rawhide shoe is a type well-known in northern Europe. Made from a single piece of hide, it does not have a separate sole. At best it exploits the shape of the animal skin, so that the baggy skin from the heel part of the animal's leg becomes the toe of the shoe; a more primitive version can be created simply by wrapping a piece of raw…


(323 words)

Author(s): Gale R. Owen-Crocker
It is generally accepted that string, rope, and coarse utilitarian cloth, used, for example, as sacks, could be made of hemp, and there is some evidence of hemp preparation in 11th-century Norwich. However, hemp may not only have been used for rough purposes. As it is often impossible to distinguish hemp from flax in archaeological context (see archaeological textiles); where fibres are mineralised, cloth of hemp may often been simply subsumed under 'linen' in excavation reports. Apart from Wheeler's 1935 observation of Saxon …


(2,837 words)

Author(s): Alan V. Murray
Arms were originally intended for use by and on the person of the mounted knight. The shield, or coat of arms proper, formed the basic element, but in practical usage the painted device on a knight's shield was often reproduced on his surcoat, banner, and the trappings of his warhorse (see plate armour), usually by a combination of dyeing and painting on mostly linen fabrics. Monumental brasses and stone effigies also often represented their subjects in armour with heraldry. Beyond this direct personal use, arms of individuals or institutions were often displayed as marks …

Heroic literature

(746 words)

Author(s): Gale R. Owen-Crocker | Mark Zumbuhl
The Anglo-Saxon period produced heroic literature in Old English, the most famous example being the poem Beowulf. Poets typically focus on weapons and armour, but not on non-metallic dress. The Beowulf poet often refers to helmets including one described as ' hwita' (shiny), with a wire inlaid crest, both features paralleled on the helmet found in the Sutton Hoo, Suffolk, Ship Burial , which is probably early 7th-century (though the poem only survives in an 11th-century manuscript). Gold-adorned boars, placed over the cheek pieces of the helmets worn by Beowulf's warri…