Iron Age Celtic Women’s Clothing


Documentation on Roman Women’s Clothing, including Provencials and Barbarians, to help create garb for the SCA; presented at a workshop in the Shire of Seareach, June 2017.


HOW TO DRESS LIKE A ROMANO-CELT: During the Imperial Roman period, there were many Celtic regions that had assimilated into the Roman Empire and culture. My own persona is Romano-Celt. I retain my barbarian culture while embracing Roman dress.

[1] Wear pants, and yes, even women wore them when desired. Pants can be solid color natural colors, or can be plaid. You also have the option to wear leg wraps, just like the Norse did.

[2] Wear a unisex “tunica recta” or, women, wear a bog dress. This should be either solid, or plaid, or checky… but the opposite of your pants. We Celts liked colors, but we didn’t clash drastically or overdo the plaid (like modern reenactors think). I will post in the comments how to make these tunics.

[2] TUNICA RECTA: This is a simple rectangle, front and back, seamed up both sides leaving a 12-inch arm opening, and sewn across the shoulders, leaving a 12-inch neck opening. This is identical to the male tunic, with the exception of having a little more fabric on the front panel so that it drapes into a V-neck. The sleeves are formed by the fabric slipping over the shoulder, similar to cap sleeves. The width of this should be from elbow to elbow, doubled, plus 5 inches to form the drape.


[2] BOG DRESS: This is truly the same style as the Greek “Peplos” or the Roman “Tunica Virgo”. This tunic is often referred to as a “tube tunic”. This is one of the simplest tunics to sew, as it made of one large rectangular piece of cloth, formed into a cylinder and then folded along the topline into a deep cuff, creating an apoptygma, or overfold. That second layer falls to either the bust, waist, or hip. The neckline and armholes of the peplos were formed by fibulae, brooch-like pins that attached the back to the front of the garment at either shoulder. The width of this should be from elbow to elbow, doubled. This is then belted under the bust, at the waist, or at BOTH the bust and waist.


[3] Wear a long-sleeved simple T-tunic underneath your regular tunic if you are cold. Celts had long sleeves!

[4] Wrap a rectangular cloak around your shoulders, and pin to one side with a giant pennular cloak pin. I typically use a wool throw blanket, which is the right size.

[5] Belts may be leather or tablet woven fabric belts

[6] Shoes are either “ghillies”, or soft turnshoes. It’s best NOT to come wearing furs wrapped around your feet. We wore naalbind socks, but any knit socks will work.

[7] WEAR YOUR TORCS! Amber and stone necklaces. Glass beads. Spiral designed rings and bracelets. Women, wear your Norse “bling strings” pinned shoulder-to-shoulder, attached to your bog dress brooches.

Additional note: Celts liked colors. A middle class person would wear no less than 3 colors, and more if they could. A noble wore even more. But don’t get all clashy. Different sized plaids of the same color scheme is good; three different plaid is not. AVOID clan tartan — those just didn’t happen during this early period. For more info re: Celtic sumptuary laws, read the BREHON LAWS.



“Barbarian” Women’s Clothing
By: Domina Arria Marina

The clothing worn by Celtic, British, or Germanic women was also seen during early Roman times. Before the Romans conquered a provincial’s culture, the clothes were quite different and unique to each region. Afterwards, the clothes began to resemble Roman women’s clothing, except with more plaid, stripes, and checks.

To recreate this clothing, researchers have a few excellent sources from bog finds, plus artwork and Roman descriptions.  At least one bog find consists of a woolen skirt apparently worn over a linen tunic or shirt, which did not survive.

Although the fabric pattern included patterns, solids were often worn too, and the provincials did not place much emphasis on matching colors. Over the tunic or dress is often a cloak, either a woolen rectangle or a trapezoid made of hide (goat, sheep, deer, cow, etc.).  The furry side can be worn in or out, depending on need. Edges or hems, especially on cloaks, were usually fringed. Narrow tablet-woven woolen strips were used as dress borders or belts.

The feet were wrapped in squares of linen or wool, or even fur. Fabric socks were worn, reaching anywhere from ankle to knee.

Every well-dressed barbarian would have necklaces pinned to her brooches, wear several bracelets and rings, and have earrings in her ear. She may very well be wearing woad, have tattoos, and her hair in complex braided fashions or simply loose and wild.