Dating and placing my Viking Age style bling – beads from Denmark

The next set of images is from Denmark Viking Age finds, which interestingly enough represent a lot of the reproductions that I originally bought while in Iceland.


Viking Age beads from Ribe, Denmark

Viking Age beads from Ribe, Denmark

Another inspiring image (original on Pinterest) is this collection of beads from Ribe, Denmark. This collection includes barrel beads (long cylinders) with glass stripes that go around the bead. Here they appear to be blue/yellow stripe, red/yellow stripe, blue/light blue stripe, and blue/white stripe. Sometimes the middle stripe is more of a wiggle. The stripes are all opaque, but it’s hard to tell if the base is transparent or opaque. Tillerman beads shows a number of other embellished barrel beads, all of which are opaque.

There are also other barrel beads which are narrower and longer (green and red opaque glass), barrel beads that are about the same length and width but with out decoration in red and green, and drum beads (squished spheres) in blue and green translucent, and green, red,, and white opaque.

In my spreadsheet, I’ve noted the beads from this photo as DenmarkP.

Beads from the National Museum of Denmark in Copenhagen

Beads from the National Museum of Denmark in Copenhagen

Another  website shows beads from the National Museum of Denmark in Copenhagen, though without much explanation. There is a note that these are “stone and glass beads” and the URL indicates that the beads are from a grave find.

The beads include clear glass melon beads, clear green doughnut beads in a variety of colours, and several drum / doughnut beads in opaque glass.  I also note ONE of the beads is white opaque glass with dark “nubs” on it – these kinds of beads are somewhat easy to find locally… (the nubs that is) so it’s exciting to see evidence of these.

In my spreadsheet I’m noting these as Denmark 4.

Lerchenborg, Zealand, Denmark, – 850-950

During my trip to Edmonton to see the Viking exhibit there, I also took photos of a number of different Denmark beads. Included in the display were a number of coins, a silver equal-arm brooch, a silver chain, a pair of turtle brooches, and… a bunch of beads.

The display indicated that the beads were made of carnelian, silver, coppery alloy, glass, and rock.

Something that I find really interesting here – is that presuming they are all from the same space, some of the glass beads are transparent (or at least mostly so) and some are totally opaque. That definilty answers some questions for me about transparent vs. opaque glass.  Oddly, some of the beads also look like glazed pottery to me, though I’m sure they are glass. I also really love the millefiori beads too!

I’m recording this in my spreadsheet as Denmark L.

Baltic jewelry in Denmark

From the RAM exhibit there was also a display of jewelry they described as Baltic in origin – however they didn’t say where the find was – or really anything about it…

However for beads, I can see a necklace of what I believe are the gold-lined clear glass beads I’ve seen in other displays, so I’ll be recording this as Denmark-B in my spreadsheet.

Read more about it here: RAM Vikings Baltic Jewelry

Bækkengård set

Only four little beads were found in the Bækkengård set, which I previously blogged about here.

Bronze jewellery from the RAM exhibit

Bronze jewellery from the RAM exhibit

The set is dated to 850-950 CE, and the RAM museum exhibit only noted that the beads were glass.  I’m including these in my spreadsheet as DenmarkBae

Amber, Jet & Glass from Bornholm / Jutland

At the RAM museum exhibit there was a very simple display, with nearly no information – other than the beads were amber, jet, and glass, found in Bornholm / Jutland.

I wish there were more information (like dates), but no luck.  I’ll enter this into my spreadsheet as Denmark-BJ.  You can see my full post on this here.

Another amber bead is displayed in another post – it appears to be an amber pony bead, however I don’t have much information on it. It’s from  Viborg, Jutland, Denmark, and I’m not including it in my spreadsheet since other amber beads are already recorded. Read more about this amber bead from Viborg on this post.

 Øster Halne Enge, Jutland, Denmark

Another set of jewelry from the RAM exhibit was the set from  Øster Halne Enge, Jutland, Denmark.  I’ve blogged about this previously here. This set is dated 775-950 CE, however the museum did not provide any information about the beads, being mostly focused on the coins that were part of the necklace. Since my photo is a bit too dull to really get the true impact of the beads themselves, this is another find I will not be recording in my (already very robust) spreadsheet.

Øster Halne Enge necklace


Stay tuned

Dating and placing my Viking Age style bling - beads from Denmark

Dating and placing my Viking Age style bling – beads from Denmark

As I mentioned in my Brooches post, this is just one of a VERY long series of posts to help me date and place my Viking Age jewelry, all with the hope of a more historically plausible costume. Over the next few weeks I’ll be sharing many more items and the information I was able to find about them. Stay tuned!

If you’re finding this post well after the original publication date, you can follow the “Dating & Placing” tag to see more posts from this category.

3 comments on “Dating and placing my Viking Age style bling – beads from Denmark

  1. How does one tell the difference between a bead and a spindle whorl? Is it just a matter of size?

    • Dawn says:

      Shape, size, material. I’ll leave actually identifying them to the experts, but most of the whorls seem to be made of stone or clay – where as beads from this era seem to be crystal/stone, or glass. (Or in some cases metal). For spinning silk, you need a very light weight whorl, but generally for Viking-Age Scandinavians, they were importing already-woven silk fabric. The whorls found dated to this age are a lot larger than a bead. Whorls do come in a variety of sizes, but they’re not fluted or barrel-shaped like some of the beads.

      Then there’s also context – where they were found, and for grave finds, the orientation of the beads in the grave.

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