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Scarce 9th Century Viking Ring of Gold

Item 11829

Viking rings were typically crafted from silver or brass. This particular example is very scarce as it is fabricated from 18k yellow gold. At the time of the crafting of this piece, precious gems were not particularly in favor and most jewelry was only metal such as gold, silver, brass and base metal. The Viking invaders brought this type of braided or twisted wire jewelry to England and Europe in which two thick wires of metal were simply torqued or twisted together.

For similar examples see plate 12 in “British Rings 800-1914” by Charles Oman. Somewhat similar examples are found on pages 90 to 93 in “Toward and Art History of Medieval Rings” by Hindman. In addition in this tome is an interesting quote from the epic poem “Beowulf”: “At times the renowned queen...urged on the young boys, often twisted rings she gave to the warriors...”

Measurements: 1/8 of an inch (0.3 cm) to 1/16 of an inch (0.2 cm) in width. Weight of 7.0 grams (4.5 dwt).

Ring Size: US 10 (UK T-1/2; Euro 19-3/4, 62.5 mm). The ring can be adjusted to size by pushing together or expanding apart with care and is best done by a jeweler given its age.

Condition: Excellent for its age; some small indentations, wear and some tiny split lines in the gold at various areas; one end has a bit more age.

Date & Origin: Circa 9th to 11th century and is Viking or Anglo-Saxon in origin.

Historical Notes: The word “Viking” is Scandinavian for pirate and describes the Norse who raided the coasts of France and Britain for over two centuries. Unfortunately viewed as only marauders, few are aware that the Viking people were also traders and settlers who became farmers and craftsman. They flourished from about 750 CE to 1150 CE and some record of their existence remains reflecting their art, carvings and jewelry. Frequently braids, twists and knotting were part of their design motifs. Having what is referred to as bullion economy with silver the most common metal although gold was also used. These precious metals were circulated as ingots or bars and in the form of ornaments and jewelry. Jewelry of any type was rare and was typically worn as a symbol of power and wealth. Often it was used as money or bartered in the place of money.