Viking Culture and Jewelry – A Complex Relation

Vikings are usually associated with violence and war, but historical evidence clearly suggests that they were also a highly sophisticated society of artists and artisans. When they were not indulged in war or exploration of the unknown, the Vikings were excellent with wood and metalwork. They loved art, and also jewelry. With the Viking population making its way to Iceland, Britain and France, they established their mark in most parts of the world. Many people accessorize the Viking culture in the form of a viking armband.

The Vikings’ love with jewelry has as many practical reasons as there are sentimental ones. As Vikings were an ever expanding lot of warriors who setup their territory in every corner of the world, it was of paramount importance for their lords and ministers to establish alliances. This was done through the exchange of rings. Rulers often presented precious rings made of metals to warriors as a token of gratitude for their unwavering bravery on the battlefield. Distribution of wealth among the population was also done through gold.

Rulers who gifted gold gained alliances and solidified their position as supreme commanders of the state. Gifting the general public helped in gaining their trust and ensuring their loyalty. The distribution of wealth in the form of gold meant safer and more vibrant populations.

Viking history indicates that they smelted all sorts of jewelry from the gold they hoarded. The highest quality gold was often reserved for the elite, while lower quality ornaments made their way into the public. Women used to wear brooches that held their clothes together, and necklaces too. Men wore rings, that were not just limited to fingers, but also worn proudly on their wrists, arms and neck. With the Vikings basically being warrior folk, almost everyone adorned their weapons with gold, especially the sword hilt.

Vikings acquired wealth in the form of gold in many ways. Firstly, it came through traders. Eventually, they realized that precious gold could be more easily acquired by raiding parts of Ireland, Britain and Europe. Vikings generally had a very strong naval fleet capable of travelling large distances very quickly. They primarily raided monasteries that were poorly defended and isolated.

Once they successfully looted these places of gold and other precious metals, instead of traveling back, they settled, opting to colonize rather than plunder and leave. Ornaments were manufactured in the same areas where raw material was looted. Some historians suggest that Vikings were “art collectors”, since they quite effectively systemized the process of acquiring gold and manufacturing ornaments.

Today, Viking style gold ornaments are in popular demand. Many jewelers and antique collectors sell gold artefacts that can be traced back the Viking era. One such ornament is the viking armband.