RAM Vikings – Valkyries

Valkyrie figure from the Danish exhibit at the Royal Alberta Museum

Valkyrie figure from the Danish exhibit at the Royal Alberta Museum

Two years ago in May 2019 my mum and I took a trip to Edmonton to visit the Royal Alberta Museum (RAM) specifically to see the touring Viking Exhibit from Denmark. It’s taken me some time to get through the photos (and remember to post) but over the next while I’ll share some of the highlights from the exhibit, hopefully to help any other reenactors or costumers get inspired for their own future projects!

Today’s post is all about three Valkyrie figures that I alluded to in my previous post.

Hårby Valkyrie

Valkyrie figure from the Danish exhibit at the Royal Alberta Museum

Valkyrie figure from the Danish exhibit at the Royal Alberta Museum

This miniature (above) was described as:

“Gilded silver figurine with niello in shape of a female warrior or Valkyrie” Hårby, Fyn, Denmark. 800-900 CE

This is the figure that was found in 2012 by an amateur archaeologist. Found near the village of Hårby on the island of Fyn in Denmark. She’s 3.4cm tall, and has  a long patterned skirt, clearly defined eyes, and her hair is tied at the back of her neck. She holds a sword in her right hand and a round shield in her left.

This figure is different than many others, as she’s fully 3-dimensional, while many others that have been found (apart from the next one) are flat.  There’s also speculation that she may have been made from smelted Arabian silver coins – which have also been found in the area – likely acquired from raids or travel. The silver content contributes to why it’s dated to the Viking instead of Iron age.

 

Revninge Valkyrie

The next figure was described in the exhibit display as: “Silver with niello figurine, perhaps a Valkyrie” from Revninge, Fyn, Denmark, 850-950 CE

Valkyrie figure from the Danish exhibit at the Royal Alberta Museum

Valkyrie figure from the Danish exhibit at the Royal Alberta Museum

Paul Uniacke found this figure with his metal detector on April 22, 2014. She is 4.6 cm high,with her hair tightly drawn back into a bun.

The body of the figurine is flat, but the head is three-dimensional, which is apparently fairly unusual for similar figures. There’s a hole through her head, suggesting she was worn as an amulet/pendant. Her arms are placed down her sides, with her hands on either side of her abdomen (or the trifoil brooch in the middle). Her dress has long sleeves, and the skirt is ankle length. There’s different decoration on each element of the costume, and the circles around the neck might represent a beaded necklace.

There is some speculation that she might not actually represent a Valkyrie, since she carries no weapons. Addditionally there’s a suggestion that the placement of her hands over her abdomen suggests that this may be a fertility symbol, or a representation of the fertility goddess Freya.

More excitement is the trefoil brooch, which  is typically placed on the chest in graves. Could it be that this brooch was normally worn on the waist – perhaps as a belt closure – or could the representation in the figure placing the brooch at the waist for an unusual reason – and it doesn’t actually represent how the brooch would have been worn in the day to day life of a Viking age woman?

Lolland Valkyrie

Valkyrie figure from the Danish exhibit at the Royal Alberta Museum

Valkyrie figure from the Danish exhibit at the Royal Alberta Museum

The final, third Valkyrie figure the museum described as:
“Silver fitting cast in the form of an armed woman, possibly a shield-maid or Valkyrie.”  Found at Lolland, Denmark

Unfortunately, with so much attention given to the other two more three-dimensional figures in online articles, I wasn’t able to find out much more information about this figure.

Valkyrie figure from the Danish exhibit at the Royal Alberta Museum

Valkyrie figure from the Danish exhibit at the Royal Alberta Museum

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