Wednesday, May 11, 2016

The Silver Fyrkat-Bracelets from the Viking Period

photo: Replicas of the Fyrkat-bracelets.

On an excavation by the Viking fortress Fyrkat by Hobro (East Jutland) were in the early 1950s found two silver bracelets about the same size, but of a different shape, one twisted, the other smooth with a little jingling pendant. The twisted bracelet was found 1952, when a stolp hole was being emptied in one of the big curved-wall longhouses. Since it was late season the hole was first digged out fully the next year - and thirteen centimeter deeper was found the smooth ring with the little pendant. In the stolp hole had once been two uprights, and the bracelets were squeezed between those. There is no doubt that they were hidden in a space in the wall. Why? This can only be a guess.

Bracelets like these were modern in the period of Gorm the Old, Harald Bluetooth and Sweyn Forkbeard. The smooth bracelet is made of heavy silver thread, which gets a little narrower in the ends, the twisted made of two silverthreads and twisted together. The closing plait is rather different, but the size of the bracelets is approximately the same, a little more than 6 cm, which is what we today regard as a normal size. Their owner was undoubtedly a woman. A tough viking would hardly be able to wear them.Besides the closings and the pendant there are no frills on the bracelets, they were actually applied art.
Viking house Fyrkat
In the finds at Fyrkat were coins, but a real monetary system was not yet known, people paid with silver after weight, whether it was marked or not. A little ring like the pendant was a suitable change, but it often happens that jewelry is found cut into pieces. The silver jewelry from the viking period can be regarded as decorative cheque books.

The twisted parts in both bracelets are made in a way which is a little awkward, though natural for a left-handed person; they are possibly made by the same silversmith. He might have worked in the viking fortress itself, where craftsmen lived and worked with precious metals.
(source: Skalk 5/1976)

photo: grethe bachmann

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