Tents & Work Shelters

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Northern European Tents

Also known as Anglo-Saxon, Saxon or Geteld tents.

From the Psalters

The Carolingian Utrech psalter has two surviving copies. Although they show the same scenes changes in tent fashion can be seen.

  • 820-835AD Utrecht Psalter
  • 1025-1050AD & 1125-1150AD London, British Library, MS Harley, 603
  • 1150AD Cambridge, Trinity College, MS R.17.1

From the Psychomachia

Their are 18 surviving illustrated copies of Prudentius's Psychomachia. Four of which hae been classified as Anglo-Saxon.

  • Late C10th T48 Cambridge Corp. Chri. MS23
  • Late C10th T49 London B.L. Cotton Cleo. C, VIII

Although sharing a common source the Psychomachia from Bern is from a differnt drawing group than the Anglo-Saxon examples.

  • 875 – 950AD Bern, Stadtbibliothek, Ms. 264

From the Hexateuch

  • London, B.L. Cotton Claudius B IV

From other Manuscripts

  • 850-900AD Leiden, I Maccabees
  • 1025-1050AD T84 Vatican Biblioteca Apostolica, reg. lat. 12
  • 1155-1160AD New York, Pierpont Morgan, M 724

Bell Tents

From the Psalters

  • London, British Library, MS Harley, 603 fol.24v, 68r
  • Utrecht Psalter fol.24v

From the Psychomachia

Late Roman army tents

These appear to be depictions of late Roman army tents.

From the Psychomachia

This style of tent does not appear in the Anglo-Saxon copies of the Psychomachia.

  • C9th Leiden, BUR Q3
  • 850-900AD Brussels Lat. 9987
  • Valenciennes MS 412

Viking Tent

Oseberg, Norway

Two tents were found in the Oseberg ship burial.

The smaller tent
The larger tent

Gokstad, Norway

The parts of the tent are described by Nicolaysen [NICOLAYSEN 1882] thus:
p.32 “When the ship lay in harbour, it was, at night time covered with a tilt (tjald) to which the recently names pillars and a ridge-pole belonged (tjaldass, tjaldstong). ……
p.37-38 c “a bundle of woolen cloth of yellowish colour, though doubtless originally white, with stripes of red cloth sewn thereon (cfr. P. 33) the whole of which, presumably had been intended for the tent, an opinion corroborated by the fact that within the bundle there were found pieces of thin hemp-rope, in all probability, the fastenings of the tilt;”
p.41 q “four long oaken boards of similar size and formed in the same manner, having art the one end animal heads carved and nearly alike one another, and intended to be viewed from both sides, of whose purpose I was for a long time in doubt, until at last it became obvious to me that theu had been placed at each end og the tilt, a conclusion to which I was led by observing the barge boards with horse heads which according to Otte, are found in houses of peasents in Lower Saxony and whose heads in some districts are turned outwards to prevent misfortune, while in others they are directed inwards to bring good luck to the house. It is sufficiently clear that each of the boards must have crossed the other, as represented, and that the ridgepole of the tilt with its ends was pivoted through the holes highest up. To me it also seems most likely …..”

Work Shelters

From the Psalters

  • Utrecht Psalter fol.5r, 84r
  • Lothair Crystal (British Museum)

Tent Pegs


The Viking Ship Museum has some 'tent pegs' on display. Dougleen.com however puts forth an alternative theory in that they are rope tension devices.

Roman iron tent pegs

We've included these as comparisons. Found in Castle Künzing Quintanis (Germany) they are dated to the 2nd/3rd century AD. The original photo can be found here. A possible argument for the continuation of this style of tent peg as suggested by Europa Reenactment can be put forward by the pegs illustrated in BL Cotton Claudius B IV fol 21v.

From Manuscripts