VIKING JEWELRY

One morning in 795 AD, Lambay Island in Dublin Bay was the victim of a ferocious attack from a new enemy. They didn’t know it then but that was the first encounter Ireland would have with the Vikings but it certainly wouldn’t be the last. Until 1014, when Brian Boru combined the warring Gaelic tribes and led them to a memorable victory at the Battle of Clontarf, the Vikings spread throughout Ireland, establishing towns and leaving an indelible mark on Ireland's history.

We are delighted to offer you Viking jewellery based on the designs of the amazing array of artefacts found at Dublin's Wood Quay so you can keep alive traditions that are well over 1000 years old!

Products 1 - 14 (14)
Products 1 - 14 (14)
Showing 1 - 14 of 14 items

What's the Story?

The Importance of Jewelry in Viking Culture

We are guilty of viewing the Vikings as bloodthirsty killers and their lust for carnage is certainly not overstated. As well as being warriors, Vikings were also skilled craftsmen and traders. You may also not be aware of the fact that the Vikings also took a great deal of pride in their appearance despite some biased contemporary reports to the contrary. At Wood Quay, combs were found amongst the artefacts suggesting that personal grooming was very much part of the Viking way of life! Another important aspect of Viking life was jewelry as it was a representation of status, wealth and power.

Jewelry & Status

In many ways, the reasons why the Vikings wore jewelry are no different to why we do so today. The wearing of lavish bangles, rings and earrings were a means of showing one’s wealth with the material used to create the jewelry an indication of where a person stood in Viking society. Those further down the societal chain wore bronze and pewter items whereas the Viking elite wore gold and silver, much like people do today!

Viking Necklace Design

Some Facts

Archaeological remains show the extent to which jewelry was worn with the Wood Quay team finding an incredible amount of precious metals buried underneath Dublin. It is also worth noting that many Vikings were buried in the Pagan tradition with skeletons found wearing expensive jewelry. Various excavations have also found hoards of buried gold and silver brooches, rings, coins and bangles. This further suggests the value of jewelry in the Viking culture.

Viking Helmet

Jewelry as Currency

At the start of the Viking Age, Scandinavia was unfamiliar with coinage but once the Vikings came into contact with Western European civilisations, they began to implement it in trading. It was the weight of metal objects that was the common currency however and once again, jewelry came into play as Vikings often chopped up pieces of silver and gold jewelry in order to make the desired weight for a trade. The excavations at Wood Quay discovered a number of broken pieces of jewelry in stockpiles along with coins.

Ancient Coins

Symbolism

Archaeologists at various Viking sites have noticed how jewelry reflected the culture’s belief in a variety of gods. For example, Odin, the most powerful god in Norse mythology, was symbolised by two ravens or a wolf. This stood for the acts of thinking and remembering. Odin was also represented by drakes and snakes to provide strength and good luck and these designs can be seen on various pieces of Viking jewelry. Another popular design was the hammer of Thor, God of War. Interestingly, Wood Quay archaeologists noticed many examples of Viking jewelry with Celtic designs such as Celtic knots and runes.

Odin - Viking God

Beauty & Craftsmanship

It is clear that the Vikings enjoyed showing off their status and wealth. It is equally apparent that Viking craftsmen had extraordinary skill as was shown in the artefacts found in Wood Quay and other Viking sites in Europe. Much of the jewelry was made by handcrafting a wax form before pouring the liquid metal into it. Once the metal had cooled, the wax mould was broken and the item was buffed and polished until it shone. Occasionally, punches were used in order to create certain designs and gem stones plundered from unfortunate natives were also utilised as decorations. In the Viking culture, silversmiths were highly regarded with the best craftsmen employed by kings and earls.

Example of Viking Jewelry

Viking Boat Craftsmanship

Vikings extraordinary skills and craftmanship were not restricted to armour and jewelry, they constructed sophisticated long ships that were used to navigate open seas and plunder distant lands such as the United Kingdom, and later, Ireland. The History Channel is currently showing a tv series called The Vikings. Although there has been plenty of artistic licence taken, some of the scenes paint a wonderful picture of what life must have been like for this proud people. If you would like to learn more about the Vikings, we highly recommend checking out our Viking Ireland page.

Viking Longship

Viking Tradition Appreciation

Until the 1960s, we had no idea that Dublin was once a Viking stronghold and it wasn’t until 1974 that the full extent of Viking influence was known. The massive excavation that ensued found an incredible amount of artefacts more than 1000 years old. The archaeological team was stunned by the sheer beauty of the Viking jewelry they discovered and now, we can use modern techniques to offer you designs based on the original jewelry found at Wood Quay. We hope you enjoy our collection and share our appreciation of Viking craftsmanship.

  • Selection of Viking Inspired Jewelry