The Vikings were a Scandinavian sea-faring warrior civilisation flourishing between 8th-11th century AD. We know both males and females wore jewellery. Early on in the Viking era about 800 AD, the jewellery was simple, but as time went on, the pieces became more detailed and sophisticated in manufacture.
The Vikings made their jewellery from a variety of materials including precious metals such as silver and gold, iron wires, natural fibres, precious gemstones, glass, resin, amber (from the Baltic sea) and small metallic charms.
The Viking craftsmen created jewellery rich in geometric and stylised animal design in intricate filigree and repoussé work. The most important jewellery to the Vikings were bands of metal. They were made up of hammered rounded rods of metal, either plain, simply twisted or in very elaborate and complex plaited designs. While appearing to be simple and rudimentary in design, these items of jewellery for the neck, arm or finger were in fact very difficult to manufacture.
Rings were worn around the finger and were a very popular piece of jewellery in the Viking times. Many rings were penannular with them being open ended. This was possibly to allow them to fit on different sized fingers with minimal effort. Finger rings only became popular among the Vikings in the late ages of the Viking-era.
Another form of jewellery the Viking wore were neck-rings. There is no real evidence to say which gender wore them but historians believe they were worn by both men and women. They were believed to be a display of wealth or used as a form of currency in commercial transactions. They were designed and crafted in standard units of weight to make the assessment of the value more accurate.
Fascinatingly jewellery was used as portable bullion and they would hack off sections as necessary to pay for goods or services. We know this from finding nicks on the edges of pieces of jewellery- nicks which prove that they would check that the jewellery was solid metal, not merely a plated base metal when bartering. These chunks of jewellery are known as ‘hack silver' or ‘hack gold'.
Amongst our extensive collection of ancient, antique and vintage collections at Berganza we have a rare selection of early jewels from the Viking era . Intrigued by this ancient civilisation? Visit us instore or online today to acquire your own piece of wearable viking history.