Tablet Weaving – The Oseberg Narrow Band- Ástrídr Sægeirsdottir

East Kingdom Wiki:

The purpose of this project was to explore the construction of the Oseberg Narrow Band, using materials that I had on hand.

For additional photos see full documentation at:

In 1904, a viking ship burial mound was found in Oseberg, just outside of Tønsberg in Vestfold, Norway. Among the viking age finds, part of a tablet woven band of silk and possibly flax was found. The band, listed as 12L1 in the book, Osebergfunnet : bind iv, Tekstilene (Book, 2006), is now known as the Oseberg Narrow Band. 

Image of band in situ:


As stated above, it is believed that the original band was made of silk and possibly flax or linen. At the time that I was making this band, silk was financially out of reach. I did have some thread that was a 60/40 cotton linen blend that I had used on other weaving projects. So I knew that it would be sturdy and hold up to wear and wash. So that is what I ended up using. 


Tablet Weaving is a weaving technique where tablets or cards are used to create a gap, called a shed, through which a weft thread is passed. It creates strong narrow bands of various designs or patterns. A pattern is formed by threading the tablets left to right (S threaded) or right to left (Z threaded) and then turning them in a prescribed order.

In the viking period, weaving tablets were made of bone, wood or leather. For this project, I used tablets which are made of heavy duty card stock, as I don’t own any made of the above materials.

(a warped loom in situ, with weaving tablets attached. Image: Pg 187 – Osebergfundet IV, Tekstilene)

In the same excavation that band 12L1 was found, archeologists also found part of a loom (see image above). At this time, I do not know if 12L1 was worked on a similar type of loom.

For my adaptation of this band, I used a modern inkle loom and the instructions provided by Shelagh Lewins on her website. 

The Oseberg pattern is a threaded design of ten tablets with a single hole in each corner, continuously turning forward. It creates a slanted box design.

One of the problems that I encountered was that a large twist started to build up behind the tablets. 

Modern weavers have done things like untied the warp threads to untwist them and then re-tied them. Others have flipped their tablets, so that the direction they were threaded, reverses. Still others work on looms that were specially built for use with fishing swivels, that you unhook, untwist your threads, and re-hook.  These are techniques I only found out about as I was writing this paper.

What I did to fix the built up twist, was reverse the turning of the tablets. By turning tablets backwards, it released the twist. Now, instead of just going willy-nilly and reversing my tablet turning when-ever, I created a pattern with it. For my small loom, I was able to get six squares woven before the twist got too big. So that was the point where I reversed the turning of the tablets to make the boxes slant the other direction. Six boxes forward. Six boxes backwards.

In the completed piece, you can see that there is a pyramid between the boxes. That was created at each reversal. A pleasant surprise!

Moving forward the things that I would investigate are:

  • The difference using a warp of silk thread and linen thread will make.
  • Making tablets from wood, bone and leather, and how the fibre will react with it.
  • Find out how the build up of the twist was dealt with during this period.
  • Try to confirm the type of loom that this band would have been weaved on.

The Techniques of Tablet Weaving – Peter Collingwqood

The excavation of the Oseberg ship – Museum of Cultural History

Viking Apron Panel with tablet woven Oseberg trim, and homespun yarn embroidery. Pages 35 – 41

Christensen, Arne Emil; Nockert, Margareta. Osebergfundet IV, Tekstilene. Universitetet i Oslo 2006.  Osebergfunnet : bind iv, Tekstilene (Book, 2006)

31 thoughts on “Tablet Weaving – The Oseberg Narrow Band- Ástrídr Sægeirsdottir

    1. Thank you!
      The hardest part about working with fibers, as you know, is that nature and time are not kind to them.
      So, while I am aware I have some conjecture, I know that it is only scratching the surface. As I experiment with other fibers and period tools, I expect that some conjecture will fall to facts.

  1. You did such a wonderful job this project! The piece is lovely, and your documentation is great! Thank you so much for sharing your art!

  2. The band is so tidy! I love your choice to work with what you had for experimentation.

    1. Thank you!!
      Ultimately, my goal is to recreate using completely period tools and fibers.

  3. Thanks for sharing your project – especially the issues that arose (such as the twisting) and how you worked through that speed bump.

  4. I very much enjoyed your knowledge of what the correct materials would have been, and your practical substitutions (which make perfect sense.)

  5. Thank you, Melissande!! Trying to find out what was done in period is one of my next goals!

  6. Thank you for sharing this lovely band. As a very novice weaver of bands this was really interesting and I definitely learned some stuff. Well-done.

  7. Sister Ástrídr, you have woven a lovely band. I very much appreciate that you used the materials you had available, with the purpose of exploring the process of this craft, and with the intension of apply what you have learned to future projects. Well done my friend!

  8. Such beautiful work! The pattern looks so clean and crisp. I love the surprise pyramid that came as a result of taking care of the twist that builds up. Such a perfect solution to a problem. Thank you for sharing this!!

  9. Beautiful work, Ástrídr! I love the colors, and how the tablet reversal pattern turned out. Both the craftsmanship & the documentation are well done — awesome job, & thank you for sharing!

  10. Beautiful work, Ástrídr! I love the colors, and how the tablet reversal pattern turned out. Both the craftsmanship & the documentation are well done — awesome job!

  11. I am so proud of you and I thi k you did an amazing job! I can not wait to see what is next!

Comments are closed.

Proudly powered by WordPress | Theme: Baskerville 2 by Anders Noren.

Up ↑