So after Dating and placing my Viking Age style beads… now what?

In my previous post, I outlined what kinds of beads I would be looking for out of my large glass bead collection.

In short, I sorted through thousands and thousands of beads, picking out shapes, colours, and sizes I thought “felt right”… then divided them all by colour, and then looked at my list to pull out the documented shapes, sizes, and opacities that I had evidence for. I also pulled out some wonderful melon beads, dotted beads, striped beads which I was super happy to find in the collection.

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Dating and placing my Viking Age bling – Summary and moving forward

Viking Age reproduction beads from Finland

Viking Age reproduction beads from Finland

So I started this project wanting to try to make more of my jewelry more historically informed – choosing beads that resemble beads found at Viking Age grave sites (etc) rather than just stringing together pretty beads.

As I started making my spreadsheet, there were so many beads that were represented by so many different places though. When I thought of how in the world I was going to sort them (so I could ‘easily’ just grab a pile and be confident they belonged together) I became overwhelmed.

So instead, I decided to start first with my pieces that are less common – my silver (etc) jewelry – and then make plans based on those.

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Dating and placing my Finnish bling

Along with trying to date and place my Viking Age bling, I also wanted to make a note of some of the jewelry I use for my Finnish Viking Age (but not Viking!) costumes.

Round brooches – Sweden, Denmark, UK, Finland

Silver plated Viking blingFirst up are a pair of round brooches that I normally use for my Finnish Iron Age costume, although they’re photographed here with my Viking age bling.

These brooches are from Raymond’s Quiet Press, but were not specifically noted to be in the style of any particular find, though on the site they are mentioned to be suitable for Finnish costume.

A bit of further research suggests that this style is similar to the Jelling/Borre fusion-style brooches from Birka, Sweden and parts of Denmark, as well as those of Scandinavian origins found in the UK. Specifically the Portable Antiquities Scheme shows a brooch in this style found in Cambridgeshire. These brooches with a Jelling/Borre fusion style are dated to the first half of the 10th century. Continue reading

Dating and placing my Viking Age style bling – beads from Finland (part 2/2)

a third set of beads from grave 390, direct link from Finna.fiI ended my last post of Viking-Age style beads from Finland with a great example from Eura (Luistari) grave 390, which included a number of glass beads, but also these really interesting multi-segment bronze rectangular beads.

Although I don’t have anything like them in my bead collection, they really made me curious because of other examples I found with them.

As I mentioned in my last post, I was surprised to find so many different examples of beads from Viking-Age / Iron Age Finland, so this is the second part of that article.

 

Eura 835 (Luistari)

Grave 835 necklace - direct link from Finna.fi website

Grave 835 necklace – direct link from Finna.fi website

So… looking at those bronze long beads from grave 390, I was really interested to see this example from tomb 835 on the Finna.fi site. This is recorded as ‘necklace with 9 bronze beads and 8 bronze pendants and… it looks SO much (stylistically, not the actual pendant designs) to the 10th century German (Danish?) Hiddensee treasure necklace!

The 9 bronze beads are ‘multi-part’ are faceted. Finna.fi writes that eight of them are in three parts, and “together there are only two facets”. The edges are decorated with four dots each. They write that the beads are 18.5x30x7x7 mm – which I suspect is an error (cus that would make it four dimensional….)

Since the grave 390 beads are 6x6mm, length 25mm, I suspect that these are also cross-sectional square, 7x7mm, and that the length of the three-part ones is a total of 18.5mm. They write that the two-section (broken?) one is 7x7x13mm.

The 8 flat ornamented bronze pendants have an “osmotic knot”.  Like the  beads, there is also a dot decoration on the front of the carrying loop for the pendant. The pendants are about 31x28mm, “except for the fourth one on the lift, which” is 21x21mm. It looks like the very tip of this one has broken off or been squished down.

Fantastically, when found the cord that the beads ad pendants were strung on was still inside the bronze. The website didn’t say what the cord was made of. They also write (translated):

Eura 130 (Luistari)

Grave 130 beads, direct link from Finna.fi

Grave 130 beads, direct link from Finna.fi

Speaking of blue translucent glass beads teamed with  yellow opaque glass beads…. another artefact from Finna.fi that I assume is from Eura. This is listed from Tomb 130, and includes a total of 128 beads found scattered. Most were round, with some slightly flattened, and a few more cylindrical (barrel) beads.

  • 112 blue glass beads 5-6.5mm diameter
  • 1 blue and white striped 5mm bead
  • 7 turquoise round beads (again, I’m assuming this referes to colour, not material) 7-8mm diameter
  • 6 yellow beads 5-6mm
  • 2 white 5.5 and 7 mm diameter

Further searches for the probable grave 130 didn’t yield any results, however given that the previous two entries were confirmed as likely Eura graves, I feel confident that this one is too as it follows the same conventions.

I’ll be recording this in my spreadsheet as Fin130

Eura 359 (Luistari)

Another entry from Finna.fi, this find includes a large greyish-green bead “longitudinal” which previously I thought might have meant it was a melon bead. This is 15x12mm. It’s dated 800-1050, and is made of glass. Oddly, the other three items are not identified on the Finna.fi site.

Grave 359 beads - direct link from Finna.fi

Grave 359 beads – direct link from Finna.fi

This looks like at least one white-ish bead, a blue triple or …quadruple? glass bead, a broken white bead, and the melon bead.

Since I haven’t seen a lot of other melon beads in Finnish finds, I’ll just be recording it, as Fin359 on my spreadsheet.

Eura 1061 (Luistari)

Merovingian beads - direct link from Finna.fi

Merovingian beads – direct link from Finna.fi

Again, another entry from Finna.fi, though this one is dated to an earlier time period, 500-800 CE.

What I find really interesting here, is that the orange-yellow beads are a fair bit different from the other beads I’ve seen so far for Finland Iron /Viking Age, BUT the multi-colour beads are vey similar to beads I’ve looked at from other countries. The beads are also substantially larger than the previous Finnish beads I’ve looked at.

Finna.fi describes this set of beads from tomb 1061 as being 20 glass beads:

  • 20 (I think they mean 12) orange-yellow pony beads 7-8×11-12 mm
  • 1 orange oblong (barrel) bead 18×19 mm (I think this is incorrect as well, and the bead is more likely 7-8mmx18-19mm)
  • 2 blue beads 8x13mm
  • 2 blue patterned with yellow and white 12x14mm and 13x16mm
  • 2 blue beads patterned with red and white 19x17mm
  • 1 blue bead patterned in red, yellow and white, 21x17mm.

It does identify that these beads were found scattered within the grave.  For my spreadsheet this is recorded as Fin1061.

However… once again I had a very hard time finding information about this grave, so I opted to search in Finnish instead.  It led me to Eura-Luistari Excavation Report by Pirkko-Liisa Lehtosalo-Hilander (1991) where part of tomb 1061 had been destroyed during excavation. The skull survived however, and suggested the person was small in stature. Translating through Google, I think suggests that the grave included a small buckle, an iron knife, and buckles connected by bronze chain. Given the mention of chain, I suspect that “buckle” actually means brooch. However the report says that nothing else was found… no beads. However, in an index of photo negatives (not pictured), there is a reference to jewelry, knife, buckles, and chain from grave 1061, so it’s possible that the jewelry refers to the beads?

This same report refers to a “blue pearl” (English) – “sininen helmi” (Finnish) from grave 1185, found along with bronze spirals, earthenware, and a burnt bone chip. From this report, this is the only reference to “helmi” (bead) of the graves Pirkko-Liisa examined.

Karoniemi in Ruokolahti- South Karelia

A site dedicated to cultural heritage attractions in South Karelia writes about the prehistoric settlement at Karoniemi in Ruokolahti, and the artefacts found there. These artefacts are evidence of contact between different cultures, as glass beads from the Mediterranean were found. They note these as being luxury items, and include four photos of beads.

Unfortunately the images aren’t linkable, but they are all near-round, opaque, 3-4 colour beads.

  1. black with red and white
  2. white with black and red
  3. light jade green with black and red
  4. bright yellow with black, white, and red

Since I have several other entries of three-colour near-round beads, and I don’t have more information about this grave site, I wont’ be including these in my spreadsheet.

More beads.. no photos

Compared to finding out information about Swedish and Icelandic finds, finding out information about Finnish finds is frustratingly difficult.  I suspect part of this is due to language – while Swedish and Icelandic both translate reasonably well using Google Translate, Finnish does… not. At all.

I also wonder if the ‘sex appeal’ of “Vikings” overshadows the not-Viking, Viking-era Finnish finds, and thus more attention and research goes to these other areas. Also, in the case of Iceland, a “younger” country – they had amazing historical record-keeping!
With all of that in mind, I’m opting to include fragments of information gleamed from my hunt for Finnish Iron Age beads… maybe to help with additional future rabbit holes. Since there’s not a lot of information in any of these sources, I’m opting to not include them in my spreadsheet.

Paimio

In Sites, centrality and long-term settlement change in the Kemiönsaari region in SW Finland, Henrik Asplund writes that excavations in the Pre-Roman settlement of Paimio ( a municipality located in the province of Western Finland and part of the Southwest Finland region) uncovered a cemetery on a hill consisting of a field of stones.  The oldest items are from the early Iron Age, but the cemetery was still in use during the Viking Age. It’s possible the site is even older still, as two fragments of flint arrowheads, like Bronze Age examples were also found on the site, but it’s possible that they originated from somewhere else.

The oldest grave was made of sandstone slabs, shaped into a rectangular cell approximately 100 cm wide by 200 cm long. It contained burned bones, a fibula, two shepherds crook pins of bronze, pieces of neck rings and bracelets, finger rings, pieces of bronze chain, and glass beads. Henrik speculates that these are the result of several burials, rather than the resting spot for one individual. Nearby was also an axe, spearhead, sickle knife and a bronze bracelet as well.

Pyhtää

Further, in Sites, centrality and long-term settlement change in the Kemiönsaari region in SW Finland, Henrik Asplund writes that in the Iron Age cairns at the Strukankalliot site in Pyhtää, on the Gulf of Finland shore, there was a gold-plated glass bead found.

Kalmumäki cremation cemetery in Uusikaupunki
Vainionmäki A cemetary in Laitila
Pukkisaari cremation cemetery in Kouvola
Suotniemi inhumation cemetery in Käkisalmi
& Makasiininmäki cemetery in Janakkala

In Death, Destruction and Commemoration: Tracing ritual activities in Finnish Late Iron Age cemeteries (AD 550–1150), Anna Wessman references an unpublished M.A. thesis (Ranta, 1990) concerning glass bead material from this site. No further information is given.

Further, she references the Vainionmäki cemetary, where people have found “molten
glass beads and bronze jewellery, sometimes found fused to the bones in these cemeteries”.

In her paper, she also includes a photo (since it’s a PDF I can’t link to it directly) of a round brooch and a glass bead found during the excavation of the Pukkisaari cremation cemetery in
Kouvola. Unfortunately the photo is old, small, and black and white, and the shape/etc of the bead is impossible to identify.

At the Suotniemi inhumation cemetery in Käkisalmi, Anna notes that cremated bones were placed inside a wooden box, along with two pairs of partially melted brooches, bronze chain, bronze spirals, a knife, an ear-spoon, and glass beads. She adds that “Theodor Schwindt interpreted the cremations as belonging to two women.” The box was buried at the cemetery site.

The Makasiininmäki cemetery in Janakkala is close to the town of Hämeenlinna and was first excavated in the 1850s according to Anna, and artefacts have been dated between the 6th and 11th centuries. In the 1950s, an inhumation grave was found containing burned bones, including parts of the skull, some teeth, and a neck vertebra. Around the breast area, there was a small 12th century penannular brooch, a glass bead, and a small iron ring which is suspected to have been part of a necklace. A knife handle, and pieces of a sheath that had been decorated with bronze were also found, and some pieces of woolen cloth were preserved under the sheath.

Additional items had been used possibly to fasten the lid, including an iron hook, small knife, the cutting edge of a sword, and two spearheads. They’d all been bent downwards to act as brackets holding the edges of the coffin. Interestingly enough, unlike the likely 12th century coffin – the spearheads were dated to the 7th century… I wonder if this means that items taken from other grave sites were used as makeshift nails/brackets for another grave 500 years later?

Die Eisenzeit Finnlands

cover of die eisenzeit finnlands

cover of die eisenzeit finnlands (direct link )

Frustratingly – the cover of Ella Kivikoski’s  Die Eisenzeit Finnlands (The Iron Age of Finland) features a graduated string of beads with six coins on the longest strand.  However… I can’t find ANY online copies of this book, in English or German!

Sarks Ancient Finnish Costumes

In 1984’s Ancient Finnish Costumes, there are a few mentions of beads as well.

When speaking about the Perniö graves, they note that:

  • Grave 1 had over 30 beads
  • Grave 6 had one bead

However no descriptions of any of the beads are offered, nor in how they were found in the grave.

Discussing Grave 9 at Tuukkala, they note that the shoulder brooch jewelry included bronze beads as terminals for hanging tubes. While reconstructions are often gilded, the originals they note were solid cast bronze. These bronze beads are likely similar to the ones found at the Karelia graves as well. They also note that Eastern Finland (which includes both the Tuukkala and Karelia graves) had some unique styles, including these bronze beads.

They also note that there are grave finds with chains from the 9th century, but it’s only towards the end of the 10th century that heavy chain ornamentation became ‘the fashion’. Instead they note that “a bead band was the most popular ornament of most Finnish women, and beads were imported from east and west.”

Silver beads

I also found some silver beads that I remember from the national museum in Finland, but I’ll be entering these in separately.

Stay tuned

Dating and placing beads for Finnish Iron Age (Viking era) costuming

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.

Dating and placing my Viking Age style bling – beads from Finland (part 1/2)

Viking Age reproduction beads from Finland

Viking Age reproduction beads from Finland

In my continued project of dating and placing my (mostly) glass bead collection – sorting out beads that will be ‘historically informed’ for my costuming moving forward, I also really wanted to include Finland. 

Of course, Finland Iron Age isn’t Viking… but I wanted to pull some of the beads from my collection that will work with my Finnish costume as well, rather than putting all of them into my Viking bling bag. Since I think Finnish Iron Age jewelry is more defined  by copper-alloy jewelry rather than beads, the few beads that are represented by artefacts, I want to at least isolate so I don’t use them elsewhere.

Eura Luistari 1260

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I’ll start off with this photo from Pinterest from the Finnish National Museum.

The majority of the beads are opaque dark blue. I’m unsure if these are all single round beads, or if there are doubles and triples as well. There are opaque bright yellow round beads – and perhaps double and triple beads in this glass as well.  The spacing of the beads is what makes me believe that many of these are doubles or triples, along with singles.

These same beads are common in other locations as well. 

Each strand has a central bead too, and although it’s hard to tell from the photo, it looks like each are opaque two-tone near-round beads. 

The lower strand also appears to have round silver-lined clear beads as well.

 Finna.fi has multiple listings for artefacts from grave 1260,  including: (translated)

  • Eura 1260 artefacts - direct link from Finna.fi

    Eura 1260 artefacts – direct link from Finna.fi

    “Bronze round copper buckle. 2-animal. Behind the buckle are parts of a rusty iron needle and remnants of a twill and plain woven textile”. (KM27177:28)
  • “Chain carrier, spiral-headed, cast in bronze. Stepped decoration, fastened with an iron ring to the buckle KM 27177: 27. Two chains attached to the second lower loop with spiral rings, one chain attached to the other loop via a single ring”. (KM27177:30)
  • A chain carrier, such as KM 27177: 30, was attached to the buckle KM 27177: 28 by an iron ring and a bronze spiral ring. One lower loop has one iron ring attached to it and the other has an iron ring and a bronze spiral ring. KM 27177: 32 bronze chains are attached to these.” (KM27177:31)
  • Bronze chains, triple, cross-linked to the chain carriers listed above (KM 27177: 30-31). The chains are made of three-helix spiral rings with a diameter of approx. 10 mm.” (KM27177:32) 

Finna.fi notes that on/near the jewelry were:

Decayed bones under the chains and neck ring, twine and plaited ribbon on top of the chain and above the bracelet, twine on the right side of the chain, twine and cord under the chains, and twine, plated ribbon and twine on the chains and partially under the chain carrier. There were also loose rings from broken chain. Textiles were also still evident, including plain weave fabric and parts of broken bronze rings, a small piece of plain weave fabric with a piece of chain, other textile and organic matter under the chain, twine and plain weave fabric and wood under the chains, twine and woven fabric at the wrist. 

For my spreadsheet I’ll call these FinNM.  A reconstruction of this jewelry and the outfit can be seen here. 

Finnish necklace and jewelry - direct link from Pinterest

Finnish necklace and jewelry – direct link from Pinterest

Hagedisenhain.de

hagedisenhain.de bead

direct link from hagedisenhain.de

Bead-maker Hagedisenhain.de has a number of different beads that they say are based on beads found in Finland, dated between the 9th and 11th centuries. However, unfortunately they haven’t included ANY references to say where the finds were, any kind of context, how many were found…

Nor do they share any deviation from the original style they might have taken. While the technique to make these beads might not have changed TOO much, I have no idea if the colours are the same, etc. 

So… it’s pretty useless as a research site.  Still, I was happy to see lots of the multi-colour dot-beads that I have from a trip to BC were represented. (Oh, and they also have those silver and gold foil beads so popular in Viking Age finds!)  Since the beads from Hagedisenhain.de don’t have any real information, I’m not including them in my spreadsheet. However they look a lot like the ones below….

Gulldynt, Vöyri  (Guldyntistä) 

Gulldynt, Vöyri beads

Gulldynt, Vöyri beads – direct link from website

From the  Finnish National Museum’s website come these beads from Gulldynt, Vöyri. (Or Guldynt) They were found inside a brass bowl, along with bronze and silver jewelry along with other metal objects. 

Along with glass beads, the necklace contains shells, beads thought to be made of one, and a bead of white agate in the middle. In a close up photo, the shells look like cowry shells, but are VERY worn down, as if they had been plucked from the water after years of being eroded by the sea and sand. 

This necklace was dated to the Vendel Period in the 550–800s, but the museum notes that the beads as displayed here, are not in the original order of stringing. 

From some of those closer views, the necklace appears to contain:

  • The single central agate bead; irregularly squashed round bead, soft white
  • Two unusual opaque cube beads, white with green crossing designs, with a variety of yellow dots.  
  • Two ‘squashed’ round opaque beads with a red base, white lines on the top and bottom, white dots with teal stripes inside, and then smaller yellow dots. All the dots are irregular. 
  • A single red ‘squashed’ round opaque bead with large open overlapping white O’ shapes, and risen blue transparent dots
Close up on the Gulldynt necklace

Close up on the Gulldynt necklace. Direct link from website.

  • A single red ‘squashed’ round opaque bead with layered white and red flush dots, with a raised blue transparent dot over each of the layered dots, and a white stripe at the top and bottom of the bead
  • Two red ‘squashed’ round opaque beads with layered white and red flush dots, with a raised blue transparent dot over each of the layered dots 
  • Two red ‘squashed’ round opaque beads with layered white and red flush dots, with a raised grey  transparent dot over each of the layered dots 
  • Seven black opaque squished round beads with overlapping O shapes in white, and white flat dots inside the Os
  • Two opaque squashed circle red beads with a black stripe running horizontal on the bead, with overlapping white Os, with a white dot between each O topped with a turquoise dot. At the place where the O’s overlap, there’s an additional turquoise dot. 
  • Two opaque red squished round beads with alternating black/yellow/black layered dots
  • Five small red opaque squished round beads with light blue translucent raised dots
  • Three small red ‘squashed’ round opaque beads with layered white and red flush dots, with a raised turquoise transparent dot over each of the layered dots 
  • Three small plain red opaque pony beads
  • One small opaque red (or brown) and white striped barrel bead
    Close up on the bone and shell beads on the Gulldynt necklace

    Close up on the bone and shell beads on the Gulldynt necklace. Direct link from website

  • Five small opaque red beads with white figure 8 designs (overlapping Os?)
  • Three small opaque red and white striped squashed round beads with a meandering blue squiggle
  • One small blue opaque bead with yellow dots
  • Four opaque blue and white pony beads
  • Approximately 22 round bone flat beads of various sizes. From the close up, it’s possible that these are doughnut beads, where the hole comes from the removed bone marrow.
  • Two well-worn cowry shells, as beads, rather than charms – the hole goes through the flat open side of the shell and out the back, rather than just at the top of the shell. 

This necklace was found near the village of Bertsby (Bertby) in 1849. Bertby is along the western coast, near Vaasa.

I’ll be recording this find in my spreadsheet as FinGull

Direct link from Pinterest

Direct link from Pinterest

The Gulldynt site contained both a settlement with a central square and manor house, as well as a burial ground.  Other interpretations have suggested the site was a place of worship -however interpretations are difficult due to extensive looting and land reclamation (according to a translated wiki page.)  A survey in the 1930s identified at least two house foundations from the Iron Age. 

Excavations in the area have happened several times since the 19th century; mostly recently in the 1980s. Finds are dated from around 400-800 CE, and the finds are “the richest of their kind in Finland”.  These finds include animal-adorned jewelry, Byzantine gold coins, kauris snails from the Indian ocean. (Cowry shells)

Writing mainly about the Levänluhta bog/pond graves, Anna Wessman contrasts the graves of her focus with the Gulldynt finds, stating that they contained imported jewelry and weapons decorated with ornaments “belonging to Salin’s style I and II.” The graves at Gulldynt also included Roman gold coins, a Vestland-type cauldron, cowry shells, and numerous glass and amber beads.  

… which I think means I now need to search for amber bead finds too! 

In The Olsztyn Group in the Early Medieval Archaeology of the Baltic Region, Mirosław Rudnicki comments that the beads with “crisscrossing glass threads” and colourful dots found at the Gulldynt site were of Frankish production, and disseminated all over Europe, gaining the most popularity in Bavaria. 

Vöyri necklaces  - direct link from Finna.fi

Vöyri necklaces – direct link from Finna.fi

This necklace is also listed in the Finna.fi website as KM68:1i, along with two other very similar necklaces, all from the same area. KM2891:15 and KM2910:1 have very similar beads KM68:1i is listed as “height: 215.0 mm x width: 140.0 mm”  which… I don’t really understand. 

KM2891:15 is listed as “diameter: 110.0 mm” (which would make the circumference 34.56cm)  and “Thirty pearls, of which 3 are green, 4 are blue, 1 is the largest gray agate and the others are brown. Of the latter, the larger ones are mosaic pearls (mosaic beads), the smaller ones are evenly colored.

Since many of these beads are the same as the other necklace, from the same location – I won’t be including this one or the next one in my spreadsheet specifically. 

KM2910: 1 is listed as “Forty-nine (49) pearls, several of which are brown (of which 21 are yellow with brown, small and without speckles, others larger with mosaic ornaments, etc.); 11 blue, of which 4 faceted; 5 greens; 1 yellow. Most of the big ones are variegated.” with a diameter 15.0 mm (I think that means 15cm) (which would make the circumference 47.12cm 

Eura 56 (Luistari)

Grave goods from the Eura woman's grave (no. 56)

Grave goods from the Eura woman’s grave (no. 56) Direct link from website

From grave number 56 from Luistari, Eura comes this coin-embellished necklace as seen on the Finnish National Museum website.  The Luistari cemetery was discovered in 1969, when sewage work was being conducted.  Excavations to the site were done between 1969-1992, and they discovered that the cemetery had been used for almost 800 years, holding over 1,300 people. 400 of these graves have been examined, with the oldest dating back to the Vendel Period, circa 600–800 CE.

The museum states that grave goods were common, however during the Viking Age (circa 800–1050 CE), the number of jewelry items and utility goods increased.  However, many graves were found on this site with no grave goods, particularly from the later years of its use, when Christianity began influencing burial traditions. 

Grave 56 held a woman, referred to as “the Eura Queen” by the excavation director Pirkko-Liisa Lehtosalo-Hilander. (or, according to another article, I read “Eura Matron” / Euranemäntä in Finnish) Based on coins that were part of the woman’s grave goods, researchers know what she was buried sometime after 1018, while radiocarbon dating also confirms she was buried in the early 11th century. 

Along with grave goods, some of the woman’s jawbone and teeth survived, along with some bones of her upper arm, forearm, fingers, hip, and shin bones. Based on these bones, they estimate the woman was 165-170 cm tall, and had been buried on her back with her “arms bent over her waist”. Based on analysis of the surviving teeth, they estimate she was about 45 years old when she tied, and tooth enamel and hip joints suggest she suffered from a deficiency disease in childhood, and had signs of osteoarthritis. 

Her grave jewelry included a necklace with 34 glass beads, 11 coins, and 2 silver pendants. The museum photos aren’t close enough on the beads to get a great sense of what’s all included, but 
there appears to be:

  • 1 opaque yellow melon bead
  • 1 opaque blue melon bead
  • 7-11 opaque barrel beads which are either dark red or brown
  • Several opaque yellow and blue multi-colour beads
  • Several opaque solid blue beads
  • Several opaque solid yellow beads

There may also be one gold-lined bead as well, but it’s hard to tell from the museum photos. 

Eura 56 necklace, direct link from Finna.fi

Eura 56 necklace, direct link from Finna.fi

Additional information from Finna.fi indicates that the necklace is 800-1050 (Viking Age) rather than getting more into the coin dating. However, they say that there are 35 vs 34 glass beads, which includes:

  • 13 long, reddish-brown barrel-shaped beads decorated with yellow and white streaks and spots
  • 8 blue double beads decorated with yellow
  • 3 flat round blue beads
  • 2 blue near-round beads, one 12x10mm, one 9x6mm
  • 2 yellow “floral pattern” beads
  • 1 yellow plain bead
  • 1 yellow barrel bead
  • 1 yellow “longitudinal” – which I think is a melon bead
  • 1 golden barrel bead (a gold-foil lined bead)
  • 1 red 9x6mm near-round bead

 They also suggest that the layout of the beads is how it was found, rather than a scattered find, though this might be a translation misunderstanding. Oddly, Finna.fi doesn’t include any details about the coins themselves. 

I’ll be recording this find in my spreadsheet as Fin56

Of the 11 coins, 10 are dirhams, the newest of which is from 1003/1004, and the rest are all from the 10th century. The 11th coin is from Augsburg, German, struck in the beginning of the 11th century. Also found in the grave was a penny struck during the reign of Cnut The Great in Hertford, England dating 1018-1024. This was found a bit further away from the other coins, so it’s uncertain if it was part of the original necklace or not, however it had been perforated to be used as a pendant. 

Note – they have decided to display this last coin with the necklace in the photo below.

The museum does not go on to describe the two additional non-coin pendants, but they’re both round with central designs, similar to shields.  They also don’t discuss if the Dirham coins are authentic, or reproductions made during the 10th/11th century, which I know from previous research is a possibility. A different page on the Finnish National Museum’s site also discusses imitation /reproduction coins from within this time period.

“Reproductions and imitations of coins have also always been made. Around the year 1000, coins were produced in Scandinavia according to English models. Coins were probably also imitated in the region of Finland. However, these imitations were not made for financial gain, but the signs of use on the coins and the fact that they are most often found in graves indicate that the imitations were worn as jewellery. The creators of the reproductions may have made intentional or unintentional mistakes due to a lack of literacy, language and writing skills.” – https://www.kansallismuseo.fi/en/digitaalinen-kokoelma/tutkijan-valinta/viikinkiaikaiset-rahat-suomen-loydoissa  

The museum describes the woman’s jewelry as from the Viking Age, and typical of those found in Southern Finland at that time. In addition to the coin and bead necklace, a pair of embellished shield-like brooches were used at her shoulders to fasten her dress, and chains hung from these. From those chains, women of this time would hang additional pendants – in this case the woman wore bells. She also wore an equal-arm brooch on her chest, typically believed to fasten cloaks, or cloak-like garments. On her wrists she wore twisted bronze bracelets, and she also had two rings on each of her hands.  (These copper-alloy adornments attributing to the survival of the bones in these areas.)

As an additional rabbit hole, I found this paper on Classifying Iron Age Bells, Pellet Bells and Bell Pendants by Riitta Rainio – but I chose not to dive into that rabbit hole quite yet…

Grave 56 jewelry including brooches, chains, bells, and the beaded coin necklace.

Grave 56 jewelry including brooches, chains, bells, and the beaded coin necklace. Direct link from website

More about this grave

Although it’s not directly related to the beads, I also wanted to record more information about this grave for future use – since working on Finnish Iron Age costuming is something I’m really interested in.

This grave was found in 1969, in an area that was very dense with graves. The individual was buried approximately 80 cm deep, and the grave perimeter was quite large – approximately 250 x 110-120 cm. She was laid upon a wooden platform – pieces of which were preserved under the grave goods. This platform was covered in a layer of wood and birch bark, and subsequent burials were later made on top of her grave. 

In addition to jewelry, she had a small knife hanging from her belt, and the museum website states that in their prehistory exhibition, the decorative bronze-plated knife sheath was replaced by a similar sheath found at the Osmanmäki cemetery (KM2700: 58), because the Eura woman’s knife sheath was very fragile and fell apart. However, they note that fragments of cat’s fur had been preserved within the sheath, and remains of deer skin and fabric were found under the sheath – preserved by the metal decoration. The hair of several animals has been identified from the grave, including deer, bear, bear, otter, weasel and cat, though they didn’t indicate where. the bear, otter, or weasel hair was found.

In additional searches, I found a 2020 article by Tuija Kirkinen, Krista Vajanto & Stina Björklund entitled Animal hair evidence in an11th century female grave inLuistari, Finland in the Archaeological Textiles Review which went into MUCH more detail about the fur found, and indicated some was deer, reindeer, otter, brown bear, and lynx or domestic cat. I wanted to record this for potential future reading, but… it’s way off topic for this current rabbit hole. 

Under the apron’s hem there was a piece of cloth trimmed with tablet-woven braid, and there were also traces of tablet weaving at the woman’s waist. Her apron has square decorations made of bronze spirals. The acidity of the Finnish soil decomposes organic materials like bones, plant fibers, wool and leather  – these are are mainly only preserved when they are in contact with copper-alloy objects, since the substances produced by oxidation slows down decomposition. Textiles (and bones) from grave 56 are as well-preserved as they are thanks to the abundant bronze objects in this grave. 

Square decorations made of copper-alloy coils from the Eura woman's apron.

Square decorations made of copper-alloy coils from the Eura woman’s apron. Direct link from website

Next to her femur, the woman had a pair of shears, and at her feet lay a sickle. There was also a broken clay vessel which may have contained either food or drink, perhaps left as either a burial offering or as part of a burial ritual.  Additionally an iron object, likely a horse bit, was in her gave as well. 

There were also traces of a headdress (they don’t indicate which kind), a cloak, a bit of naalbinding (mittens perhaps?) and fur (again, without any context, I’m not sure if they mean fur trim on a garment, or the aforementioned bits of animal hair found in the grave. 

Reconstructions

Eura woman's dress reconstruction

Eura woman’s dress reconstruction – direct link from website

Based on the grave findings, the museum reports that over 100 reconstructions have been made since the 1970s. They determined that the fabrics were plant-dyed (of course) including heather, birch, bedstraw, and woad. The lower dress was blue, while the outer dress and apron were both green. The belt which secured the apron and outer dress was tablet woven, and was red. 

However the video on the website says heather, birch, madder, and woad dyes were used – madder providing the red needed for the red belt. They also display the reconstructed apron in soft white, rather than the green indicated in the text. 

Eura 118 (Luistari)

Direct link from Finna.FI

Grave goods from Eura 118 (?) – directly linked from the Finna.fi website

I’m not 100% sure if this find is from Eura at the time that I write this, as “Eura” is just a note as a tag in the artefact description, and the write up about it on the Finna.fi website only includes that it’s from “Tomb 118”. The beads are dated 800-1050 CE. 

The site describes this as a necklace that was scattered upon discovery. Made of glass beads:

  • 11 round blue beads (4-6 mm in diameter)
  • 11 blue “beads in two parts” (I’m interpreting this as a double bead) (4-6 mm in diameter, approx. 8 mm long)
  • 3 blue beads “in three parts (a triple) (4-5 mm diameter by approx. 13 mm long)   

– for a total of 25 blue beads, plus:

  • 2 light blue beads 5 mm diameter by 9 mm long (another double bead)
  • 4 turquoise beads (I assume they mean colour, not the stone)  – one round 3 mm, one cylindrical (barrel) 3×3 mm, and one double bead 4mmx10mm. 
  • 3 green round beads, 3mm diameter
  • 11 yellow beads, 8 of which are round 5-7mm, three double beads 5-6.5mmx10mm
  • 3 reddish round beads, 4mm
  • one “water coloured” round 6mm bead (I don’t know what this means)
  • 5 beads made of silver.  1 is round, 6mm, 3 are double beads 4-6 mm x 8-10 mm, 1 triple 5mmx15mm. These might be silver-foil lined beads, but I’m recording them as silver.
  • 5 gold-plated beads, 2 round 5-6mm, 2 double beads 6mmx11mm, and one triple bead where the measurements aren’t provided. I suspect these are gold foil-lined beads instead. 
  • 1 red cylindrical bead (barrel) 4mmx8mm. 

  – for a final total of 60 beads. Looking at an enlarged version of the photo, I believe of the two necklaces displayed in the photo – that the description relates to the TOP necklace – since I can count 2 yellow double beads in it, but not in the lower necklace. 

Tomb 118 also included a clay vessel which contained 3 beads

  • 1 blue round, 4.5mm
  • 1 green round 3mm
  • 1 double gold-plated bead 6mmx11mm (Again I suspect this is the gold foil-lined bead)

The photo attached to this listing however doesn’t include these three additional beads, unless they’ve been incorporated into the necklace. (The photo is far too small to start counting beads…) 

I’ll be recording this in my spreadsheet as Fin118

I did a search to see if Tomb 118 was indeed a Eura grave, and had a really hard time finding additional references to this grave – BUT.. found Tuija Kirkinen’s University of Helsinki PhD Thesis, Between Skins; Animal skins in the Iron Age and historical burials in Eastern Fennoscandia. (2019) references grave 118 (along with grave 139) as a small child’s grave in Luistari in Eura.  (The full thesis isn’t available, but this is referenced here.) 

Eura 390 (Luistari)

Like Eura 118 above, I am assuming this is another Eura grave find, because it’s tagged with “Eura”, but only states ‘tomb 390’ in the artefact description. Like their other posts, they only date this to “Viking Age”, 800-1050.

Eura 390 beads, direct link from Finna.fi

Eura 390 beads, direct link from Finna.fi

This find includes 22 (mostly) glass beads, but the description does not include how the beads were found, or where in the grave. It includes 22 beads in total:

  • 15 round blue beads 5x5mm -7x7mm
  • 3 blue double beads, 5x7mm, 5x9mm and 6x10mm
  • 1 purple double bead 5x8mm (I think this is one of the first indications of purple!) 
  • 1 light green double bead 5x9mm
  • 1 silver-foil lined double bead 5x9mm

plus a “two part bronze bead, 7x10mm” – I don’t know if this means it’s a double bead, or if it’s a hollow bead made of two halves secured together. Looking at the photo – I don’t see this bead, nor can I count it. I won’t be including it in my spreadsheet.

I was wondering how long this finished necklace (?) would be, so with the assumption that eight of the round blue beads were 5mm and seven 7mm, the finished length of this with all the beads pressed right up against one another would be approximately 14 cm long. I suspect that there are more of the larger beads, but still at only 14 cm long, this is NOT a fully beaded necklace – scale is difficult to tell from the available photograph for SURE. (And the fact that they’ve assembled it in a loop is also misleading.)

I’ll be recording this in my spreadsheet as Fin390

second grave 390 find, direct link from Finna.fi

second grave 390 find, direct link from Finna.fi

In addition to the necklace (?) beads, there was a second find of beads attributed to grave 390. This includes 10 roundish blue glass beads, approximately 5mm by 4-6.5mm

Assuming the average bead was 5x5mm, the total length would be only 5cm long. These beads look so much BIGGER in the photo without context!

Like the previous beads, there is no indication if these were found scattered, or all in one area, nor their proximity to the other beads. However, given that they’ve catalogued them separately, I have to imagine that they believe them to be part of a second jewelry set, though the beads match the same description as the 15 round blue beads from the previous set. 

Since these are duplicates, I won’t be entering them separately on my spreadsheet. 

a third set of beads from grave 390, direct link from Finna.fi

a third set of beads from grave 390, direct link from Finna.fi

Next.. a THIRD entry from this grave! 

This next set includes some confusing information.  They first describe it as 7 beads and 4 pieces of iron, but the later describe the metal as bronze, and only show two pieces.  I think they’re likely bronze (or rather copper alloy). 

5 of the beads are blue, four of which are round 6-7mm, and one is a triple bead 4-14mm. 

The two bronze pieces are five-sections, described as “cross section rectangular, 6x6mm, length 25mm”.  I suspect that they are actually cross-section square, 6×6, and this is again just an error in the translation. They are decorated with dotted circles, one on each side of each section.  There were textiles (they didn’t identify what kind) found inside the metal pieces, and the grave also included wood and broom. 

The metal beads are super unique compared to other finds I’ve found so far, so although the blue beads are similar to other ones from this grave, I’ll be including these metal ones  in my spreadsheet as Fin390

Eura? 

I did a search to see if Tomb 390 was indeed a Eura grave, and had a really hard time finding additional references to this grave – BUT.. found an article Phytoliths, parasites, fibers, and feathers from dental calculus and sediment from Iron Age Luistari cemetery, Finland, which DOES refer to the Luistari (Eura) site and grave 390, noting that while bird feather finds are rare in Finnish archaeology, this grave does have ‘some single feathers’, which may have come from a feather-filled pillow.

Tytti Juhola et al. further goes on to identify this as a female-identified grave, dated 880–950 CE. While the article isn’t specifically about this grave, interpreting some of their other data, this grave included beads, bronze ornaments, and a ceramic piece. While they examine a number of other graves from the Luistari (Eura) site, this is the only one that they noted included beads AND the other materials they were looking for, so it didn’t’ give me insight into grave 118 as well. 

Stay tuned

Dating and placing beads for Finnish Iron Age (Viking era) costuming

Dating and placing beads for Finnish Iron Age (Viking era) costuming

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. 

Since I am really interested in Finnish costuming, I really hunted for a lot of examples for Finland – and despite starting this thinking Finland was all chains and no beads – found a LOT of beads and interesting things.  With that… I’ll be breaking this post up into two parts. Stay tuned for Finland part two! 

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.