Viking tales often recall stories of bloodthirsty behaviors of war and violence, so it may surprise you to learn about the Vikings’ rich history in jewelry-making. The Vikings were masters of metalwork, which ranged from the production of weapons to the crafting of jewelry. From the 8th-15th centuries, the Vikings produced rings, amulets, pendants and more, which all held symbolic meanings to their culture.
Below you’ll find 7 outstanding examples of Viking rings, each with their own unique display of Viking symbols.
Viking Warrior’s Ring
This warrior’s ring features a narrow band flaring to the top, in the form of an eye with rounded stippled edges. The field is decorated with panels of geometry, the central of which enclose small crescents, which are lunar references. As expert navigators, the constellations in the jewelry pieces signified mystery and power to Vikings.
Rare Viking Signet Ring
This narrow band features a large circular bezel incised with four designs. The surface is covered with uniform frosty patina from a burial. This ring has been professionally refurbished with the original gold overlay restored.
Man’s Wedding Ring
This copper ring was a man’s wedding band, circa 850-1050 A.D. The use of unalloyed copper is specific to the Vikings, who were highly skilled metallurgists. Vikings traditionally exchanged wedding rings on the pommel of the groom’s sword.
Warrior’s Heart Ring
For Vikings, the heart symbolized bravery, fortitude, loyalty, and integrity – all attributes of the warrior. The warrior’s heart ring defines the very essence of his place in society and the spiritual world.
Warrior’s Coil Ring
This gilt bronze coil ring was delicately made with six full rings. The coil is a repeated theme in Viking jewelry and adornment, but few rings survive due to their fragility and finding one this complete form is very rare.
Twisted Viking Warrior’s Ring
This traditional 9th century Viking warrior’s ring features an overlapping split band, which was specific to the Vikings. The top features a heavily corded twist form, another signature of Viking design.
Great Plague of London Ring
While not of Viking origin, this medieval piece of jewelry is revolutionary in its construction with the band of rolled brass and bronze, with a pattern imparted by the roller. The bronze flower bud top was cast separately and the two were joined by brazing. The process of rolling was in place in the 15th century.
Child mortality was indigenous to the culture and it was expected – barely half of the population lived to adulthood. Burial in the church brought you close to God, but space was limited and those nearer our hearts had priority over those whose names were forgotten. Graves were periodically dug up, and the bones removed to storage, making space for newcomers. It happened all over Europe, north to south and no jewelry is preserved with the bones. From extensive research of the time period, it is believed this rings were produced in England and recovered from graves of children who perished in the Great Plague of 1655-56 in London.
View all these rings and more exquisite pieces in this week’s Jasper52 auction of Viking & Medieval Jewelry.