- Last Updated: 24 October 2014
- Written by M. 'Olaf' Erlund, P.E.
While butted mail is acceptable because of the cost and labor involved in riveting, it should be noted that riveted mail is considered much more desirable. The weave should always be limited to European four in one weave and the links should range from one quarter inch inner diameter (6.4mm) to no more than half inch inner diameter (12.3mm).
Due to the lack of commercial availability of pure iron or wrought iron wire, mild steel should be considered the material of choice. Galvanized wire, stainless steel wire, aluminum wire, and copper alloy wires are not permissible. (Although, copper alloy may be used as trim in conjunction with very high class kits.)
Recent discussions among mail armorers place Viking age mail as round wire riveted rows connecting square sectioned, punched, solid rings or forge welded round/oval sectioned rings. Since there are no commercially available sources for this style of mail, most forms of round wire using round rivets or flat rings with wedge rivets will be acceptable for all periods and locations. Alternating riveted rings with solid punched rings is also an acceptable practice. Welded and forge welded rings are also allowed; however, machine made welded mail (such as butcher's mail) is not acceptable. The ratio of wire diameter to ring inner diameter should range from 4:1 to 6:1. Butted mail will need to be denser than riveted for structural reasons; however, overly dense weaves will lead to armor that is overly heavy, restrictive, and aesthetically inaccurate.
Shirts can range from just over waist length to past the knees. Full suits of mail are acceptable but represent the upper level of Viking Age Society. Only those with kits that match upper society entirely, should pursue such armor. Shirts must have sleeves, mail "vests" are not acceptable. Sleeve length can range from short sleeve length to full wrist length. Norman and late Viking period can incorporate "mittens", but still must pass safety standards for combat if used on the field. Additionally, mail shirts should be constructed with sleeves woven directly out from the body of the shirt. There should be no visible seams on the chest or on the shoulders. These types of sleeve attachments are modern inventions of the Ren-Fair. The only seams that should exist in a shirt can be in the arm pit area where they are generally not seen.
It should be noted that the number of mail finds directly attributed to Norse cultures is relatively small. Items in this discussion may change drastically with the discovery of even one historical find. Current documentation and research should always be used. When in doubt contact an Authenticity Officer for more information.