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Historical Tidbit Thursdays - Vikings - Jewelry - Arm Rings - #TidbitThursday

Howdy! This week join me as we begin exploring the jewelery that was crafted during the Viking times starting with the arm-rings.

Arm-bands or arm-rings were circular bands, usually open, worn around the arm by both men and women.

Opinions differ on the actual technique used by Vikings to make these bands. One theory suggested they twisted one or more rods of gold or silver into a circle. One theory suggested they were cast as a single piece. In any case, the twists could be any combination of plain or decorative and they varied in thickness and widths.


This one from the Walters Art Museum has a nice twisted-rod pattern ending in two animal heads.


This example at the British Museum is a thick piece of silver with punched designs.


And another example from the Yorkshire Museum of a thick band of gold stamped with designs.


Here we see a piece from the BBC's "A History of the World" that is stretched out.

Typical arm rings include a carving at the ends of an animal or mystical creature (such as a dragon).

Considered a sign of wealth and prestige, a person would proudly wear many rings on their arms or would gift a ring to someone of importance or who performed a great deed. They might be offered in exchange for allegiance. A chieftain or "Godi" would wear a silver ring when performing duties such as settling trade agreements.

Arm-rings have also been found in burial sites possibly suggesting they belonged to the owner or they were specially made for the burial.

Arm rings were also used as collateral for trading goods and were known as ring-money. At some point, most were of a uniform weight to allow for easy exchanges.

Picture References:
Gold Arm Ring - The Walters Art Museum
Silver Ring - The British Museum
Stretched Ring - BBC - A History of the World
Gold Hammered Ring - Yorkshire Museum

References:
Nice page full of arm band pictures - Lancashire Museums
Viking-Era Ring Unearthed in Northern Ireland - History.com.
"Everyday Life in Viking Times" by Michael Gibson, ISBN#0-7500-1472-5
The Vikings: Voyagers of Discovery and Plunder (General Military) The Vikings (Journey into civilization)
Vikings, a Dark History Vikings: Warriors, Raiders, and Masters of the Sea (Oxford People)

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