Vikings, women and men alike, liked to dress up. As silver became the number one measure of value in the Viking Age after the 'golden age' of Rome, their jewelry was made mainly of silver. While men generally wore only bracelets in bracelets or with a twist, women wore more than one.
They preferred to use brooches to adorn their clothing, and two forms of brooch were common: the clover brooch of Frankish origin and the turtle brooch of Scandinavian origin. In the early Viking Age, the turtle brooch was decorated with a simple, clearly visible pattern, which later became more complex.
The clover-shaped brooch with floral motifs used by Frankish warriors to hold the ends of the straps together became the jewelry of Viking women, and the floral decoration was slowly replaced by animal ornamentation. A typical late Viking jewelry was the circular round clasp, also decorated with animal motifs.
Scandinavian goldsmiths and silversmiths copied the Karoling style jewelry many times, but could not match its sophistication and elegance. By the early 900s, they had already developed their own style and created their own works.
Their heavy silver bracelets were decorated with deep engravings or buttons and rivets, or even with screw threads with engraved decoration.
Later on, other types came to the fore: in addition to the twisted or braided bangles, long, finely worked chains and brooches with round, vine or spiral decorations, which were foreign in their influence, appeared.
Viking jewelry was unearthed in a variety of treasure troves. Researchers have found two explanations for their burial: one is mythological, that if you bury an object you will enjoy it in the afterlife.
On the other hand, it was a way of hiding the treasures from the ravages of war. Jewelry was often buried with coins and broken silver used as currency.
Inspirations of Viking Jewelry
The brave Vikings ruled the seas for centuries. They conquered new territories, raided, pillaged and plundered, but also defended the weak, traded and developed the decorative arts. Their amazing jewelry can still be seen in many museums around the world. Even today it is a source of inspiration for contemporary artists.
Of course, one of the most popular designs is, described earlier, the hammer of Thor. However, it is worth remembering that although nowadays it is just an original decoration, in the past it was a religious symbol worth the highest respect!
What is interesting, currently so called "Viking jewelry" are often runic motifs of unspecified meaning, while the Vikings based their ornaments mainly on stylized images of animals and sometimes plants and - on a much smaller scale - mythological figures.
One of the few ornamental products not directly referring to flora and fauna was the so-called ring chain - consisting of links with cross-section (alternately) of circle and square. Such a chain appears in only one ("Borre") of the six ("Oseberg", "Borre", "Jellinge", "Mammen", "Ringerike" and "Urnes") periods into which "trends" in Viking art are divided.
Similar chains are found today in a variety of pendants, necklaces and bracelets. Much more representative of Viking jewelry, however, are massive rings and rings with designs reminiscent of the original ornaments of centuries ago. Another common element is the characteristic quadruple weave - even called the "Viking weave" - appearing both in silver or gold bracelets and in braided thongs. By the way, leather combined with silver or gold, and sometimes also with precious stones, is also an ornamental legacy of the Vikings.
Because even though the brave Nordics no longer sow fear on the seas, they still excite the imagination. Nordic mythology, the aura of mystery and magic, and finally the extraordinary beauty of jewelry - all this makes the art of the Vikings still alive.