Vikings in BC – Amulets


From the amulet display (top view)


Today’s post is a short one – about amulets on display at the Vikings in BC exhibit.

The round pendant above (and below, seen from the side) is made of bronze, and is decorated with a “mythological animal-shaped figure”. This amulet was from a grave find in Helvigsdal, Uppland.


From the amulet display (side-view)


The display on amulets was entitled “Amulets guaranteed the gods’ protection” and the display said that “many amulets were miniature versions of everyday objects such as axes, sickles or fire strikers. Amulets in the shape of humans or animals are more rare.

Many amulets can be associated with the special powers of specific gods. Miniature sickles and pendants resembling fire strikers are often linked with Freyr, the god of fertility. Axes might be connected with Thor, although his most famous attribute was a hammer. The meanings of other amulets, such as small staffs and the small dog-like animal, are uncertain.

Bunches of amulets were often hung together, or a single amulet could be worn as a pendant. Rings symbolized loyalty and were used to swear allegiance to both rulers and to gods.”

“Amulets were commonly made of iron, although examples in bronze and amber also exist.”

From the amulet display

From the amulet display

The amulet ring above is made of bronze, and has four staff-shaped pendants attached to it. It was found at Birka.

This display also included:

  • a miniature axe made of amber, “shaped as a beard-axe” found at a grave in Gotland (Roirhage)
  • a miniature axe made of amber from Birka
  • a miniature axe made of amber from Birka
  • amulet pendant including a fire steel and sickle made of iron from Birka

Check out the recent post “Vikings in BC – Æsir” for another example of these kinds of amulets, or click the Vikings in BC tag to read more and see more from this exhibit.

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