why did vikings wear jewellery

By Phuc Le on Apr 17, 2023

The Vikings, a seafaring people from the late eighth to early 11th century, left an indelible mark on the world's history. Understanding their culture helps us gain insight into their lives and values, as well as their influence on the modern world. One intriguing aspect of Viking culture is their jewelry. In this essay, we will explore the materials, types, and reasons why Vikings wore jewelry, along with its role in their society and what archaeological findings and historical sources reveal about their use of jewelry.

The Vikings originated from the Scandinavian countries of Denmark, Norway, and Sweden. They were skilled sailors and warriors, known for their raids and trading across Europe, North America, and the Middle East. During the Viking Age, which lasted from the late 8th century to the mid-11th century, they expanded their influence to regions like the British Isles, Iceland, Greenland, and even Newfoundland in modern-day Canada. Their impact on the history and culture of these regions is still felt today.

Viking jewelry: materials and types 

Viking jewelry was crafted using various materials, with silver being the most popular choice. Bronze and gold were also used, albeit less frequently. Semi-precious stones, such as amber and garnet, were often incorporated into their designs. The use of different materials showcased the Vikings' vast trading networks and their access to various resources.

The Vikings wore a wide array of jewelry types, including rings, necklaces, bracelets, brooches, and pendants. Some popular designs included Thor's hammer pendants, Viking compass bracelets, and Tree of Life rings. These designs often featured intricate details and elaborate patterns, highlighting the Vikings' craftsmanship.

Vikings wore jewelry for various reasons. Jewelry served as a symbol of wealth and status, with more elaborate pieces indicating higher social standing. It also held spiritual and religious significance. Many designs were believed to act as protective talismans or to represent connections to Norse gods, such as Thor's hammer pendants or Viking rune bracelets. Jewelry also allowed the Vikings to express their artistic skills and craftsmanship. Additionally, some pieces had functional purposes, such as

The role of jewelry in Viking society 

Jewelry played a significant role in Viking society, transcending gender and age. Both men and women wore jewelry, although the types and designs might have varied. For example, men often wore bracelets and pendants, while women frequently donned brooches and necklaces. Jewelry also played a role in social interactions, as it could signify one's social standing or even act as a conversation starter.

Archaeological findings and historical sources

Archaeological findings and historical sources provide valuable information about Viking jewelry. Excavations of Viking burial sites have unearthed a wealth of jewelry, ranging from rings to bracelets and other adornments. Written accounts, such as the Icelandic sagas and the works of contemporary chroniclers, also offer insight into the Vikings' use of jewelry.


In conclusion, Viking jewelry was an essential aspect of their culture, serving various purposes such as signifying wealth and status, providing spiritual and religious connections, showcasing artistic expression and craftsmanship, and fulfilling functional needs. Its role in Viking society extended across gender and age, shaping social interactions and reflecting cultural values. The study of archaeological findings and historical sources allows us to appreciate the beauty, complexity, and significance of Viking jewelry.

Today, Viking jewelry continues to influence modern fashion and culture, with many contemporary designs drawing inspiration from Viking motifs and symbolism. From Viking-inspired clothing to t-shirts and hoodies, the fascination with Viking jewelry endures, reminding us of the rich cultural heritage and artistic legacy of this remarkable civilization.

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