Viking Jewelry

Image of Viking jewelry artifact

Jewelry is not the first thing to commonly come to our mind when we discuss the Vikings.  Most of the time, we will think about the savage warriors with swords, axes, or armor. How can mighty Viking warriors have something to do with jewelry, right? The fact is, jewelry was very common and many Vikings wore jewelry. They loved jewelry. The Viking Jewelry Collection had as many pieces as we have today: necklace, neck-ring, ring, pendant, beads, and cord.

Viking Jewelry Facts

How can we surely know that the Vikings loved jewelry? The reason is that grave and hoard finds have been showing us that there were many pieces of jewelry buried with the dead. The excavators found many decorative personal items in bronze, silver, and gold.

Image of Viking jewelry
Viking Jewelry Artifacts

In the Norse Pantheon that the Vikings worshipped, Freya was the goddess of jewelry. This can strengthen the point of Viking loving jewelry. Similarly, they loved skiing and they worshipped a god of skiing, Skadi. Plus, the purpose of Viking jewelry was unique and different from that of other regions’ jewelry. Of course, the primeval purpose of Viking jewelry was to accent and enhance the beauty of the wearers. But the Vikings also used their jewelry as a form of currency. For example, the Vikings wore silver armbands which they would take pieces out as a payment for goods and services. This is the “Hack Silver” that many might know today.

Besides, Viking Jewelry worked as an amulet for their society. Norse Gods deeply ingrained in the belief of the Vikings. They admired and loved their gods so much that they would wear jewelry of their Gods. The common amulets found had the hammer-like shape. In the beginning, it was not powerful enough to persuade the scholars to link those amulets with the Mjolnir hammer of Thor. Not until they found a pendant artifact with “Hmar x is” meaning “This is a hammer” did the scholars believed the artifact referred to Mjolnir Hammer and Thor.

Image of Viking thor mjolnir hammer jewelry
Viking Jewelry Artifact with rune inscription (Credit: National Museum of Denmark)

The common jewelry material was silver and bronze while gold was quite rare. The Vikings wore their jewelry as a means to show their social and material status. Many Viking women wore precious beads to present their husbands’ wealth, for example.

The Vikings buried their Jewelry

Viking jewelry was often found in graves and hoards. Legend had it that God Baldur was buried with many personal items and even the slaves when his funeral took place. The Vikings applied this practice into their normal life -burying things with the deceased. They believed that there existed an afterlife in which the deceased would live. In their afterlife, they would need money and things just like they once did. So the practice of burying jewelry with the deceased was to help them lead a happy afterlife.

The Vikings buried their jewelry to keep it safe. Like the dragon Sigurd guarding his treasure in his grave, the Vikings buried their jewelry in order to keep their precious possessions away from the invaders. Another reason why the Vikings took up the practice of burying their jewelry was that the Vikings were nomadic and they would not stay in one certain plot of land for too long.

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