Importance of Viking Jewelry in History

By Phuc Le on Apr 08, 2023

The Viking Age, spanning from the late 8th to the early 11th century, left a significant mark on history. The Vikings, known for their seafaring exploits and fierce warrior culture, have captured the imagination of many, and their art and craftsmanship are no exception. Viking jewelry, in particular, offers a unique glimpse into the lives, beliefs, and values of the Norse people. These intricate pieces of adornment not only held functional purposes but also symbolized wealth, status, and religious beliefs.

Overview of Viking Jewelry Types

Viking jewelry came in various forms, including brooches, necklaces, pendants, bracelets, rings, and earrings. The materials used ranged from bronze and silver to gold, and the designs often incorporated animal motifs, mythological figures, and runes. In this essay, we will explore the origins and influences of Viking jewelry, the different types of jewelry, the symbolism behind their designs, and the role of jewelry in Viking society. We will also discuss notable archaeological discoveries and the impact of Viking jewelry on modern design and fashion. Browse our collection of Viking jewelry here.

Viking Jewelry Origins and Influences

Cultural Influences on Viking Jewelry

The Viking Age was a time of widespread travel, trade, and cultural exchange. As such, Viking jewelry was influenced by the cultures they encountered, such as the Celts, Anglo-Saxons, and Slavs. This blending of artistic styles resulted in unique and intricate designs, reflecting the diversity and adaptability of the Norse people.

Materials and Techniques Used in Viking Jewelry Making

Viking artisans primarily used bronze, silver, and gold to craft their jewelry. They employed various techniques such as casting, hammering, and filigree to create intricate patterns and designs. Additionally, they used precious and semi-precious stones, glass, and amber to add color and detail to their pieces. Discover our Norse Mythology Odin Helmet Necklace here.

Types of Viking Jewelry

Brooches and Fibulae

Brooches and fibulae were essential components of Viking attire, used to fasten clothing and hold it in place. They came in various shapes and sizes, with the most common types being the oval brooch and the penannular brooch. These brooches were often adorned with intricate designs, and some were even inlaid with precious stones.

Necklaces and Pendants

Viking necklaces typically consisted of chains or strings of beads, while pendants were crafted in various shapes and designs, often depicting mythological figures or animals. One popular pendant design was the Mjölnir, or Thor's hammer, symbolizing protection and strength. Check out our Viking Wolf and Thor Hammer Pendant Necklace here.

Arm Rings and Bracelets

Arm rings and bracelets were common in Viking culture, worn by both men and women as a symbol of wealth and status. They often featured intricate designs and were sometimes adorned with runes or inscriptions. Shop our Black Stainless Steel Viking Rune Bracelets here.


Rings were another popular form of Viking jewelry, often crafted from silver, bronze, or gold. They were worn by both men and women and could be plain bands or adorned with intricate designs, such as the Tree of Life or Yggdrasil, symbolizing the interconnected nature of all things in Norse cosmology. Take a look at our Vintage Viking Tree of Life Ring for men here.


Though not as common as other forms of Viking jewelry, earrings have been discovered in archaeological sites, suggesting that they were worn by some Norse individuals. These earrings were typically made of metal and featured simple hoop designs or more elaborate, decorative shapes.

Other Decorative Items

Vikings also crafted a variety of other decorative items, such as belt buckles, hairpins, and clothing clasps. Many of these items featured intricate designs and patterns, demonstrating the high level of skill and artistry possessed by Viking craftsmen.

Symbolism and Designs in Viking Jewelry

Animal Motifs and Their Meanings

Animal motifs were prevalent in Viking jewelry, representing various qualities and attributes. For example, the wolf symbolized strength and loyalty, while the raven was associated with the Norse god Odin and represented wisdom and prophecy. Other common animal motifs included the serpent, symbolizing fertility and rebirth, and the dragon, representing power and protection.

Norse Mythology Influences on Jewelry Designs

Viking jewelry often depicted figures and scenes from Norse mythology, illustrating the importance of these stories in Viking culture. For example, pendants shaped like Thor's hammer, Mjölnir, were worn for protection and strength. Other designs featured the gods Odin and Freyja, as well as mythological creatures such as valkyries and giants.

Runes and Their Significance in Viking Jewelry

Runes, the written script used by the Vikings, were often incorporated into jewelry designs. They served not only as a form of decoration but also held symbolic and magical meanings. Runes were used to invoke protection, good fortune, and other positive attributes, and they were often inscribed on rings, bracelets, and amulets.

Viking Jewelry in Daily Life and Society

Jewelry as a Status Symbol

In Viking society, jewelry was an important indicator of wealth and social status. The more elaborate and valuable the jewelry, the higher the wearer's standing within the community. Gold and silver jewelry, in particular, signified great wealth and prestige.

Role of Jewelry in Religious and Spiritual Practices

Viking jewelry also played a significant role in religious and spiritual practices. Amulets and talismans featuring protective symbols or depictions of gods were worn for their perceived magical properties, offering protection, strength, and good fortune to their wearers.

Viking Jewelry as a Form of Wealth and Currency

In addition to its symbolic and decorative functions, Viking jewelry often served as a form of wealth and currency. Arm rings, in particular, were frequently used for trade and barter, with their value determined by their weight and the preciousness of the metal.

Archaeological Discoveries and Famous Viking Jewelry Finds

Hoards and Burial Sites

Many significant examples of Viking jewelry have been discovered in hoards and burial sites throughout Scandinavia and the British Isles. These finds offer valuable insights into the lives and beliefs of the Vikings, as well as their artistic and crafting abilities.

Notable Examples of Viking Jewelry

Some famous examples of Viking jewelry include the Hiddensee Treasure, a collection of gold pendants and necklaces discovered in Germany, and the Cuerdale Hoard, a vast collection of silver jewelry and coins found in England. These and other finds showcase the remarkable craftsmanship and intricate designs characteristic of Viking jewelry.

Preservation and Display of Viking Jewelry in Museums

Many pieces of Viking jewelry have been carefully preserved and are now on display in museums around the world, offering visitors the opportunity to appreciate the skill and artistry of Viking craftsmen. Institutions such as the National Museum of Denmark, the Swedish History Museum, and the British Museum house extensive collections of Viking artifacts, including stunning examples of jewelry.

The Impact of Viking Jewelry on Modern Design and Fashion

Revival of Viking-Inspired Designs in Contemporary Jewelry

The enduring appeal of Viking jewelry has led to a resurgence of interest in Viking-inspired designs in modern jewelry. Contemporary artisans often draw upon traditional Viking motifs, materials, and techniques, creating pieces that pay homage to the past while offering a fresh, modern aesthetic. Explore our collection of Viking-inspired jewelry here.

Popular Culture References and Depictions of Viking Jewelry

The fascination with Viking culture has also influenced popular culture, with movies, television shows, and books often featuring depictions of Viking jewelry. These portrayals serve to further popularize and celebrate the unique and captivating artistry of Viking craftsmen.

The Influence of Viking Jewelry on the Modern Jewelry Industry

The revival of Viking-inspired designs has had a noticeable impact on the modern jewelry industry, with many designers and artisans incorporating Norse motifs and styles into their work. This trend demonstrates the enduring influence and appeal of Viking jewelry and its continued relevance in contemporary fashion.


The Enduring Legacy of Viking Jewelry

Viking jewelry represents a rich and fascinating aspect of Norse history and culture. The intricate designs, skillful craftsmanship, and deep symbolism embodied in these pieces offer a unique insight into the lives and beliefs of the Vikings. The enduring legacy of Viking jewelry can be seen not only in the archaeological discoveries that continue to captivate scholars and enthusiasts alike but also in the modern designs and fashion trends that draw upon this ancient artistry.

Importance of Studying Viking Jewelry for Understanding Norse Culture and History

The study of Viking jewelry is essential for understanding the complexities of Norse culture and history. By examining the designs, materials, and techniques used in the creation of these pieces, as well as the role they played in daily life and society, we gain a deeper appreciation for the Viking people and their remarkable achievements. In this way, Viking jewelry serves as a lasting testament to the skill, creativity, and resilience of the Norse people, whose legacy continues to inspire and captivate us today.

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