More Men's Clothing pages
Many people often make the comment that brimmed straw or felt hats must have been used by people living during the Viking Age as there is good solid evidence both before and after the period. This article aims to test this supposition.
Basic hats made from felted animal fibers or from plaited plant fibers have probably been in use well into prehistory.
Inwards describes the early origins of straw hats. He suggests that the Roman word Petasus and the Greek word Kausia could both refer to broad-brimmed hats. The figure from the Parthenon frieze (c.450BC) could show such a hat as could an Etruscan figure on an earthenware dish found in a tomb at Vulci (c.440BC). [INWARDS 1922]:p.1
Two paintings from Pompeii show hats and bonnets as does a figure of Penelope (79AD). Also a 2nd century Roman figure of Mercury at the Vatican. Virgil writing in ???? mentions the "Plaitting of osiers and willows" in his Pastorals. [INWARDS 1922]:p.1
Croom states that during the Roman period that wide brimmed straw hats were worn by fishermen and sailors as protection from the sun. He also mentions that the same style of hat was also worn by theater goers when the wind was too strong for the awnings to be used. [CROOM 2000]:p.69
Odin is described as wearing as wearing a broad-brimmed hat and a blue coat in the C13th Bagler Sagas. This may refer to a straw hat.
A hat found in Novgorod, Russia and dated to the C14th is made of roots 'in the manner of a rush hat' and 'shaped like a straw hat' [EWING 2007]:p.120 (Historic Russia)
The earliest British record of straw hats is 1459AD and refers to Sir John Fastolfe's "ij Strawen hattes". [INWARDS 1922]:p.1