Uplifting evidence for Viking lingerie range

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THEY came, they saw, they pillaged ... and their women wore bras.

Swedish researchers claim Viking women were the first in western civilisation to look for a little support at home while their menfolk were off in their longboats.

Archaeologist Annika Larsson from the University of Uppsala says a find at Birka near Stockholm proves the original brassiere was "designed to give lift and shape to the breast but banned with the arrival of Christianity, which regarded their wearing as a pagan ritual".

She added: "It was also felt that they made the female body too much an object of observation."

In the mud at a former Viking settlement near the capital, archeologists found cloth samples with metal fasteners and circular pieces of metal.

"It was thought these metal discs were shoulder protectors, perhaps for women carrying heavy loads," said Ms Larsson.

But she said researchers comparing them with figurines found at the site realised they seemed to have been worn as a metal bra.

The metal fasteners have been found in previous Viking graves beneath skeletons' backs.

Ms Larsson speculated that low-cut dresses were the order of the day.

She went on: "The garments had an aesthetic lingerie effect as well as providing support. I think Viking women would have chatted about clothing styles and designs in simple fashion shows while their men were away marauding."