From the Saga Museum in Reykjavik
At the Saga Museum in Reykjavik there were several figures wearing armbands/bracelets. Rather than do a post for each of the displays and all of their various elements, I thought I’d organize the photos by the items of interest.
First settlers of Iceland
The first example is one of the figures representing one of the first settlers to Iceland. He has a twisted arm band on what looks like just below his elbow. This band appears to have a large bulb in the middle – similar to another armband that I have a bit better of a photo below.
He also has a bracelet-height arm band worn over his sleeve just above the wrist. It looks like a flatter kind of bracelet – with a stamped or engraved pattern in it.
While the upper arm band looks like a pewter colour, the bracelet-height armband looks like bronze.
The female, above, has a similar kind of below-elbow arm band, which looks like a flat band (not twisted) also with a bit of a decorated bulge.
I wonder if the choice to put them on the arm below the elbow was a deliberate choice, or a matter of where the items they could get would fit on the already-existing wax model over the reproduction clothing? It seems like a good location if using the band to help hold up pushed-up sleeves, but not so much for general wear, where I would think something worn at the bicep would fall less frequently/easily.
(warning, this is an image-heavy post!)
Below are some photos of the couple in context from the museum
The Lawspeaker & Conversion
The character pictured above has two arm bands, both worn just above the wrist, both over clothing.
Here’s a bit of a closer view, where it looks like the arm band was molded to get the sort of reverse-scalloped design on both edges. This looks like a peweter-colour as well. I also thought the sleeve design was interesting, and it’s most visible in this photo where you can see the two unusually placed seams.
I didn’t get great photos of the Law-speaker character, due to how far away the wax figure was (and how dark the museum exhibit is) but it kind of looks like a wrap-around or coiled bracelet, again in a pewter tone, and worn above the wrist, over clothing.
The figure pictured above is part of a display representing the Viking Age discovery of “Vinland” (Canada). He wears pewter-tone arm bands on both arms, below the elbow, over his under-tunic.
A closer look at the arm band shows it’s a twisted band, with a decorated ball in the middle. The ball is decorated with tiny additional balls in this case.
Another character representing “Vinland” is pictured above. His arm bands are again pewter-toned, worn above the wrists, and over clothing. His are flat and decorated with what looks like stamping.
On those grapes….
So, “Vinland” makes people think of wine/ grapes. Then that gets argued, because Newfoundland isn’t exactly known for being a grape-growing area… From the Academic Edition of the encyclopedia Britannica, “In the 1960s Helge Ingstad adopted the view of the Swedish philologist Sven Söderberg that Vinland did not mean “wine land” but rather “grassland” or “grazing land.” ” But… grapes DO grow in Newfoundland according to the Dark Cove Cottage & Vinyard in east-central Newfoundland. Likewise in the Vinland Voyager they suggest that it’s possible that the Viking explorers might have found grapes in Newfoundland, as the climate was about 5 degrees warmer 1000 years ago.
The scene above from the Saga Museum is a battle scene, and the fallen figure is wearing an arm band, also in a pewter colour, also above his clothing, but in this case over both a shirt and a bracer, and about mid-way between wrist and elbow. This style is twisted, but appears to have animal-head clasps.
Sagamuseum – The Saga Museum
Grandagarður, 101 Reykjavík, Iceland
+354 511 1517
From the Iceland National Museum
So now that I’ve looked at the Saga Museum and it’s interpretations, I thought I’d also show some exhibit items from the National Museum of Iceland, illustrating real finds.
The photo above is from a female grave, and was listed as a bracelet or arm band. It looks like a wide cylindrical “wire”, shaped into a bracelet, and with flattened ends.
The front bracelet is flat, with a stamped design (a triangle with three dots, which apparently is quite common for decoration) and terminal ends. The one in the back is a bangle-style, solid, with no decoration.
On the combs
Although this post isn’t about combs, in case anyone was curious, I thought I’d include the write up in the Iceland National Museum discussing the combs:
“Combs are often found in graves implying that hair dressing was important. One of the combs was found in a grave in South East Iceland, the other two are spot finds.”
The display was on the Norse & Celtic Cultural Inheritance, and were only listed as “Settlement Age” for Iceland.
National Museum of Iceland
Suðurgata 41, 101 Reykjavík, Iceland
+354 530 2200