Amleth the Prince

The movie begins with the main character Amleth as a young boy, excited to see his father come home from a long raid. As shown in the picture above, he wears an intricately woven tunic, a cloak, an amulet, and a hat.

Amleth’s shirt follows the typical pattern of a Viking Age man’s tunic: long sleeves with an opening below the neck (Ewing 2006, 90-91). Archaeologist Michèle Hayeur Smith writes in her book The Valkyries' Loom: The Archaeology of Cloth Production and Female Power in the North Atlantic that “In Iceland the most elaborate textiles date to the Viking Age, with more variety in weave types, colors, and the incorporation of exotic fibers such as silk…and metal.” (Hayeur Smith 2020, 32). Linen was the most common fabric used for men’s shirts across Viking Age Scandinavia, with linen shirt fragments being found in Iceland; Birka, Sweden; and Viborg, Denmark (Ewing 2006, 81).

The woven details below the neckline are historically accurate and symbolic of Amleth’s journey. In an interview with Indie Wire, costume designer Linda Muir explains “He has very specific bands of tablet weaving, a dragon band on his chest, embroidery of shields and spears around the bottom of his cloak… These are intended to promote learning, success later in battle, all calls to the gods as someone to watch.” (Muir 2022).

Later, we see Amleth flee the kingdom after Fjollnir kills his father and kidnaps his mother. He wears an amulet given to him by his father. The amulet serves as a symbol of power and legitimacy throughout the movie. In an interview, director Robert Eggers says he made sure the amulet looked like an Arab silver coin from the time period to demonstrate the cultural fusion happening during the Viking Age. (Eggers 2022, 1:54). Arabic jewelry dating back to the Viking Age has been found throughout Scandinavia. During excavations of Birka in the late 19th century, archaeologist Hjalmar Stolpe uncovered a 9th century woman’s grave containing a finger ring with an Arabic inscription on the colored glass (Wärmländer et. al. 2015, 131).

A closeup of Amleth’s amulet.
A ring found in a 9th century grave in Birka. The inscription reads “il-la-lah” or “For Allah.” (Wärmländer et al., 2015. p 132).


Eggers, Robert. 2022. “Alexander Skarsgård & 'The Northman' Director Break Down Amleth's Return as a Viking | Vanity Fair” Vanity Fair.

Ewing, Thor. 2006. Viking Clothing. Stroud: Tempus.

Hayeur Smith, Michèle. 2020. The Valkyries’ Loom: The Archaeology of Cloth Production and Female Power in the North Atlantic. Gainesville: University Press of Florida.

Muir, Linda. 2022. “‘The Northman’: A Guide to Viking Chic and Other Medieval Attire” Interview by Bill Desowitz. IndieWire.

Wärmländer, S.K.T.S.; Wåhlander, Linda; Saage, Ragnar; Rezakhani, Khodadad; Saied A. Hamid Hassan; and Neiß, Micheal. 2015. “Analysis and interpretation of a unique Arabic finger ring from the Viking Age town of Birka, Sweden.” Wiley Periodicals. Scanning vol. 37: 131-137.