If you are ever in Copenhagen, be sure to make a trip to the National Museum of Denmark to see the Viking Jewelry Exhibit. It is an outstanding collection the likes of which you are not likely to see anywhere else in the world. I was lucky enough to go there recently and I would like to share some pictures with you.
First some background: We think of Vikings as raiders and pirates. Actually most of them were farmers who went on raids during the intervals between the sowing and harvest seasons. They went for booty and the status the plundered wealth gave them. But raiding and pillaging was a young man’s past time. When they got older, Viking men were expected to settle down and raise a family.
Vikings were master craftsmen and worked in metal, stone and wood. I imagine a lot of the gold they used and prized came from raiding expeditions but gold was traded as well. Jewelry like brooches served a utilitarian purpose. Jewelry was also a mark of wealth and prestige and wearing the gold was the best way to keep an eye on it, although a number of hoards were buried. Some jewelry was believed to afford the wearer protection or luck and a few very wealthy individuals had jewelry made to be buried with them. Other jewelry was buried as part of a sacrificial ritual. Every now and then a cache of gold jewelry is found preserved in a bog.
The Scandinavians and their ancestors started collecting amber in the stone age, mostly on the coast of Jutland which is the western peninsula of Denmark. That’s amber in the above picture. Most of the amber I saw was dark and I heard that some of the chunks that have been found weigh over 15 pounds.
I didn’t see a lot of silver jewelry; most of it was gold, amber and bronze. The piece above looks to be a loop in loop chain.
Oddly enough, I didn’t see much of the so-called Viking Knit although the above picture appears to be an example.
Here are some more pictures.
To see a list of museums with permanent Viking exhibitions, press here.
In the spirit of Viking Jewelry, I plan to post another tutorial in the next few weeks as a follow up to Viking Knit Unraveled and Revealed.
I believe that I have come up with a comprehensible explanation of the double weave and can illustrate it clearly. Plus I will give directions for a DIY tool that makes it easier to begin the Viking Knit. Stay tuned!