Fifty years ago, little was known about Viking settlements in England, where they were and who lived in them, but the discovery of Nordic metalwork and jewelry in the past twenty years, thanks largely to the development of the metal detector, has opened up a whole new world of understanding. Jane Kershaw of OUPblog has the story. (photos)
The date of the jewellery chimes exactly with written accounts of the settlement (c. 870-950). Its careful study reveals that while some items were made locally after a Scandinavian fashion, others are likely to have been imported from the Scandinavian homelands, probably on the clothing of female settlers. Although Anglo-Saxon women also wore brooches, they were of a very different style to those favoured by Scandinavian women, so it’s clear that the new jewellery finds represent a distinctly ‘foreign’ dress element. The jewellery being unearthed in England is strikingly similar to that found in Scandinavia, particularly its southern regions: there are disc, trefoil, lozenge, oval, and bird shaped brooches decorated with animals and plants from the Scandinavian art styles of Borre, Jellinge, Mammen and Urnes. Encountering women on a walk around tenth-century Norfolk, you could be forgiven for thinking that you were in Denmark.