RAM Vikings – Pins, keys, and rings

Display of pins, rings, and keys from the RAM exhibit

Display of pins, rings, and keys from the RAM exhibit

Today’s post from the Royal Alberta Museum Viking display from Denmark is from a display with a number of trefoil brooches, penannular brooches, pins, rings, and keys. I’m not entirely sure what the common element is between all of these – other than things made of (mostly) bronze, worn as personal adornment.

 Gripping beast brooch

Bronze trefoil brooch ornamented with gripping beasts 850-950 CE

Bronze trefoil brooch ornamented with gripping beasts 850-950 CE

I’ll show close ups of some of the items in order they were displayed top to bottom, left to right.

  1. Bronze trefoil brooch ornamented with gripping beasts 850-950 CE

Nørholm brooch

Bronze trefoil brooch from Nørholm, Ålborg, Jutland, Denmark 725-825 CE

Bronze trefoil brooch from Nørholm, Ålborg, Jutland, Denmark 725-825 CE

2. Bronze trefoil brooch from Nørholm, Ålborg, Jutland, Denmark 725-825 CE

Openwork key

Bronze key with circular openwork handle with animal decoration from Ribe, Denmark 800-950 CE

Bronze key with circular openwork handle with animal decoration from Ribe, Denmark 800-950 CE

3. Bronze key with circular openwork handle with animal decoration from Ribe, Denmark 800-950 CE

Gyngstrup key

Bronze key from Gyngstrup, Odense, Fyn, Denmark

Bronze key from Gyngstrup, Odense, Fyn, Denmark

4. Bronze key from Gyngstrup, Odense, Fyn, Denmark

Tisvilde key

Bronze key with openwork circular handle containing a single animal from Tisvilde, Zealand, Denmark

Bronze key with openwork circular handle containing a single animal from Tisvilde, Zealand, Denmark

5. Bronze key with openwork circular handle containing a single animal from Tisvilde, Zealand, Denmark

I didn’t get close-up photos of the remaining items

Display of pins, rings, and keys from the RAM exhibit

Display of pins, rings, and keys from the RAM exhibit

Three bronze penannular brooch with upturned terminals from:

  • Ludvigshave, Lolland, Denmark
  • Hvidovre, Copenhagen, Denmark
  • Halljær Enge, Jutland, Denmark

Two bronze penannular rings with plain terminal pins from Skanderborg, Jutland, Denmark

Three bronze ringed pins from:

  • Bregninge, Lolland, Denmark
  • Lillevang, Bornholm, Denmark
  • Lejre, Denmark

Silver finger ring from Præstø, Zealand, Denmark

Gilded bronze finger ring made of rods twisted together from Hammelev, Jutland, Denmark

Silver button from Stenmogle, Zealand, Denmark

A comment on keys

There was a nearby display with comments about keys, and women as housewives in the role of property managers. It said:

” Many keys have been found in women’s graves. Upon marriage with a well-off husband the wife became the key-bearer. The key symbolized the status of women as managers of estates and farms. The keys would hang in a highly visible location outside her clothes, from a metal chain, a textile band, or a string from one of her brooches.”

I think it’s noteworthy that the keys are very decorative, worn as jewellery in life, and buried with the dead.  While I’m sure functional keys were also worn, I suspect the ones buried with the dead were intended primarily as decoration – unless the chest /etc that the key opened was also buried with the dead? Or.. perhaps duplicate keys were made?

 

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