I mentioned in my previous library post that I am starting to look into textiles and costume before the Viking Age. I quite excited about this project, not just because it is "new" but because I also love to see how textiles and textile production changes over time. I learned a lot (and made a great deal of mistakes, mostly in terms of organization) with Viking Age research, so I am hoping to apply the methods that worked better for me this time around (and spend less time reverse-documenting).
My first step in this adventure was to sort through my sources. While collecting material for Viking costume research, I also was pulling articles and books for earlier periods because they were of interest even then. Some of the items, such as Lise Bender Jørgensen's Prehistoric Scandinavian Textiles, I have already read, but some were just stuffed in random folders on my many drives waiting to be explored.
I decided I want my first costume to represent approximately 500CE Norway. The focus of my reading will be 0-600CE and center around Scandinavia and northern Germany, with other areas (and slightly earlier and later dates), serving as peripheral finds.
After gathering items in, more or less, on place, I needed to sift through what appeared to be most important and decide where to start. For this, I opted for the Jørgensen volume mentioned above, as well as her book Northern European Textiles. I have read both volumes several times, so it was a matter of refreshing my memory on the details of the earlier material.
It also gives me a quick overview of the textiles available during that time. I opted to make some charts (similar to those I have in this blog for the Viking Age) based on the data available in these books.
Over the next month I will be reading each of these items (and others) and taking notes as I go. In an attempt to make myself less crazy later, I am adding them as I finish them to my master bibliography (which is annotated and allows me to place each work in a variety of sources). For those that I have digitally, I am uploading them to my Mendeley account and highlighting and annotating them within the system.
Further, I keep an excel sheet of data points that I find interesting (this is how I managed all of my entries for my article on Viking Age plaids and stripes, as well as my notes on things like colored linen, or fine open weave wools that serve as head coverings). You can see below an example of a book opened in Mendely and where I am adding a note, as well as how I tend to categorize things within a spreadsheet (so far this sheet has tabs for stitches, colored textiles, and interesting notes, and there will be more added as I find points of interest that I want to track).
It might seem like much, but the repetition is what helps to sort the material out in my brain, and allows me to remember it. (And, in the event I cannot, I can now also just run searches on Mendeley or my spreadsheet to find something.)
For this project I have taken one additional step, and that is to create a Migration Era study group on Facebook where others interested can join in on the research and exploration. I hope that the group grows and that everyone enjoys delving in.
If you want to follow along here, I will be using the Migration Era/Iron Age category for my posts!