Viking Jewellery

Viking Jewellery

Jewellery played an important role in Viking culture and style. From simple brooches to intricate arm rings, jewellery conveyed status, wealth, and beliefs. This blog explores the different types of Viking jewellery, how they were made, and what they signified.

Common Types of Viking Jewellery

The Vikings crafted beautiful jewellery from precious metals including gold, silver, bronze, and iron. Here are some of the most common types of Viking jewellery:


  • Brooches were one of the most common pieces of Viking jewellery.
  • They were usually round or oval in shape and beautifully decorated.
  • Viking women used brooches to fasten their clothing, particularly around the shoulders.
  • Fancier, more ornate brooches indicated high status.


  • Viking necklaces came in various styles from simple beaded necklaces to heavy gold collars.
  • Glass beads were highly prized and often came from trade.
  • Necklaces worn by wealthy Viking women were made of gold and silver and intricately designed.


  • Rings were worn by both Viking men and women.
  • Viking rings came in different styles from simple bands to elaborate coiled and twisted rings.
  • Arm rings worn on the upper arm or forearm were common, especially among Viking warriors.


  • Viking bracelets came in numerous styles and widths.
  • Most were silver or bronze cuffs worn by women.
  • Elaborate gold bracelets decorated with gems were a sign of prestige.

Jewellery Production

Viking jewellery-making was an intricate craft that involved several steps:

  • Materials - Gold and silver were imported. Vikings also used locally available materials like bronze, iron, amber, glass, and gems.
  • Design - Jewellery designs were intricate with patterns inspired by nature, animals, and mythology. Designs evolved over time.
  • Casting - The lost-wax casting method was used for silver and gold jewellery. Wax was carved into a model, then molten metal was poured over it.
  • Forging - Forging hammered shapes from metal. Vikings forged jewellery from silver, bronze, and iron.
  • Decoration - Jewellery was decorated by carving, enameling, and adding granulation and filigree. Stones and glass beads were also used.
  • Polishing - Finally, pieces were polished to a sheen.

Meaning and Significance

Viking jewellery held great symbolic value and significance:

  • Status - Ornate brooches, necklaces, and arm rings conveyed rank, authority, and wealth.
  • Amulets - Jewellery like Thor's hammer pendants warded off evil and brought good luck.
  • Love Tokens - Intricate rings and bracelets were given as love tokens.
  • Cultural Identity - Jewellery designs, materials, and methods reflected Viking cultural identity.
  • Religion - Pendants and amulets carried religious meaning, expressing belief in Norse gods.

Trends and Styles

Viking jewellery styles varied across time and location:

Early Styles

  • Jewellery was simple with local styles. Basic brooches, pendants, beads.
  • Iron, bone, wood, and amber common materials. Less precious metals.

Borre Style (9th century)

  • Intricate animal motifs like gripping beasts.
  • New techniques like filigree led to ornate designs.
  • Expansion of trade brought new materials.

Jellinge Style (10th century)

  • More elegant symmetrical designs emerge.
  • Diamonds, gold, and gems reflect growing wealth.
  • Christian symbols appear, mingling with Norse motifs.

Mammen Style (10-11th century)

  • Dynamic, complex designs with interlaced patterns.
  • Silver and gold jewellery now abundant.
  • Evidence of specialized craftsmanship.

Famous Examples and Archaeological Finds

Stunning examples of Viking jewellery have been unearthed and preserved:

  • Gold Necklace, Valsgärde - An ornate gold necklace from a noblewoman's grave decorated with animal heads.
  • Gokstad Ship Burial - A ship burial containing lavish jewellery belonging to a chieftain.
  • Jelling Rune Stone Bracelet - An elaborate gold and gem bracelet with runic inscription.
  • Viking Hoards - Hoards like the Cuerdale Hoard contained hundreds of silver and gold jewellery pieces.
  • Book of Kells Brooches - Intricate brooches like the Tara Brooch from Ireland show Viking craftsmanship.
  • Ardagh Chalice - This Irish silver chalice has band with Viking filigree.

Why Viking Jewellery Matters

Viking jewellery gives us insight into their lives and culture:

  • Reveals the Vikings' sophisticated craftsmanship and artistry with precious metals and stones.
  • Shows the importance of adornment, status, and expressing identity through personal decoration.
  • Reflects the Viking worldview, beliefs, and myths throughsymbolic motifs.
  • Demonstrates Viking connectedness and trade networks across Europe and beyond.
  • Markers of status showed social hierarchy and ranks in Viking society.
  • Chronicles the evolution of Viking styles and technology over 300+ years.
  • Provides a tangible connection to individual Vikings who wore and treasured these items.

How You Can See Viking Jewellery

Many museums display impressive Viking jewellery collections:

  • The National Museum of Denmark has the largest collection of Viking artefacts.
  • The Viking Ship Museum in Oslo features finds from ship burials.
  • The Swedish History Museum displays jewellery from the rich Viking site of Birka.
  • The British Museum exhibits treasures like the Vale of York Hoard.
  • The National Museum of Ireland houses jewellery from early Viking raids and settlements.
  • Iceland's National Museum showcases jewellery from early Icelandic burials.
  • Yorkshire Museum - Brooches and pendants from England's Viking kingdom.
  • Lofotr Viking Museum - Reconstructed chieftain farm with replicas.

Replicas and Reenactments

You can also find replicas and reenactments:

  • Jorvik Viking Centre - Ride through reconstructed Viking age York.
  • Foteviken Museum - Viking village with craft demonstrations.
  • Viking events like festivals and markets have reenactors with costume jewelry.
  • Many museums sell replicas in gift shops.
  • Skilled artisans make historically accurate Viking jewellery reproductions.
  • Jewellery-making classes teach traditional Viking techniques.

Modern Viking Jewellery

Viking motifs continue to inspire modern jewellery:

  • Designers create jewellery inspired by Norse mythology and Viking themes.
  • Norse creature pendants like Thor's hammer or Valknut symbols remain popular.
  • Intricate knotwork patterns and other Viking designs adapted on rings and bracelets.
  • Granulation, filigree, cloisonné enamel and other Viking techniques used.
  • Jewellery incorporates materials Vikings traded like amber, glass beads, and gemstones.
  • Some jewellers focus on authentic historic designs and methods.
  • Other modern Viking-themed jewellery has a more contemporary style.


  • Viking jewellery expressed wealth, status, and identity.
  • Brooches, rings, bracelets and necklaces were highly prized.
  • Jewellery evolved from simple to ornate as craftsmanship advanced.
  • Motifs convey Norse culture and beliefs.
  • Jewellery provides insights into Viking society and trade.
  • Many museums display impressive Viking collections.
  • The legacy of Viking jewellery continues to inspire modern designs.

So next time you see an intriguing piece of jewellery with a Norse motif, you can appreciate the rich story and history behind Viking metalcraft and adornment.