Viking jewellery (Giveaway closed)

Jewellery to express status

The Vikings, men and women alike, loved their jewellery. Rich people of the era expressed their status with it, just like with clothing and weaponry. Today, we can only assess the importance of that through grave finds.

Items for the afterlife

The grave goods should ensure that the dead woman or man had a good life in the next life. So they were equipped with tools, food, clothing, weapons, sometimes servants (human or animal), and: jewellery. It is often hard to tell what kind of individual was buried in a grave, even if all these items tell a story. This story can be an interpretation only. What kind of person do we think was buried there? Often, several stories are possible to be deduced from the finds.

The fascination of glass beads

historical beads Hedeby Viking market Sarah Dahl blog

historical beads by Entwerkstatt at Hedeby Viking market

For me, the most vibrant and accessible storytellers from a grave are not shiny gold and silver, but the smaller, more colourful, and more “everyday” items of bling: glass beads. All over the Viking lands, simpler or more intricate beads were worn – and today found in graves and other sites.

I dare say that most Viking women would have owned cheaper or more expensive beads to wear. We cannot know whether they wore them daily or on special occasions only. We can only assume that the dead would be equipped with the best jewellery they had.

Hedeby beads on display and on the market

glass beads jewellery Hedeby Sarah Dahl blog

wall of glass beads found around Hedeby Viking town

I went back to Hedeby/Haithabu museum and site this spring. The museum has found a fascinating way to display the beads found around the ancient Viking town there: They built an entire wall of tiny, spotlighted shelves to highlight every single bead and pearl. It is awe-inspiring to stand in front of this wall and imagine all the different origins and history’s attached to each single one.  Plus: they’re simply BEAUTIFUL.

Then on site, at market time, you can watch the reenactors and craftsmen make glass beads with the exact same, one-millenium old techniques the Vikings used.

Viking glass beads Sarah Dahl blog

Sven at work making glass beads like a Viking

Had I lived then and were to choose a craft, I’d certainly have wanted to make glass beads. (For more technical explanations about how they were made, look at Ribe VikingeCenter’s site)

Recreating ancient beauty

So this spring, knowing I had several releases coming up, I searched the market for the best pieces to give away to YOU.

Entwerkstatt's glass beads at Hedeby Viking market Sarah Dahl blog

Entwerkstatt’s glass beads with recreated strings of real grave finds

What I chose is a small collection of the glass beads I loved most, hand-crafted with 1000-year old Viking techniques by the German reenactors and craftsmen from Entwerkstatt. What makes their works even more special is that they link their beads to REAL grave finds in many cases: They re-create the ancient, weathered beads that were found in the graves of Hedeby and other sites across the Viking lands. Strung together, entire chains and necklaces are revived and can be experienced just as they were back then. I stood at their stall for a very long time, carefully inspecting every single bead and its hidden tale, fascinated, wondering, almost unable to choose.

A rich woman’s attire to celebrate the launch of the “Tales of Freya”!

Once I had purchased my beads and their tales for you, I couldn’t wait for release day!

The launch of “The Current – A Battle of Seduction” marks the beginning of my Tales of Freya-series. We dive into the beautiful, the sensual side of the Viking era, and into a different aspect and tale with every release that is to come.

So, of course, the first bead is linked to “The Current – A Battle of Seduction”, and it had to be extra special, just like the kick-off tale about Viking warrior Aldaith and his shield maiden itself …

Turquoise swirls on deep, rich black: a bead from the chambered tomb 5

The little gem I chose for you and this release is a black pearl with turquoise, swirling “eights” and white dots (see below). What makes it so special is that it was crafted after an original bead found in Hedeby’s richest grave: the chambered tomb 5 (read more about it in the museum’s “Haithabu”, page 103, by Birgit Maixner)

from "Haithabu" by Birgit Maixner

A chambered tomb in Hedeby

The woman buried with gold and silver and her other jewellery was one of Hedeby’s richest women in the early 10th century. Her grave is among the richest in precious metal throughout Scandinavia! But it wasn’t just gold and silver – in her grave, 11 beads were found, and one of those once looked like the one YOU can win today: turquoise swirls and white splashes on deep, rich black!

Authentic recreation of ancient beauty

Viking glass beads Entwerkstatt Sarah Dahl blog

the black and blue with dot as it appeared in Viking times, recreated by Entwerkstatt

glass beads Hedeby tomb 5

ancient beads from chambered tomb 5: the middle one as it was found in the excavation

OLD and NEW bead side by side.

This special gem is directly linked to the finds made IN the very soil of Hedeby. We don’t know who the woman was who wore this bead. Nor do we know how she chose to wear it: around her neck, between her dress brooches, or attached to something else. All we know is:

this weathered bead now shines again, and here is your chance to win it:

Giveaway underway!

Giveaway for The Current by Sarah Dahl

Giveaway for The Current – A Battle of Seduction

Everyone on my Book Alert mailing list receives a second entry from me, as a thank-you for your trust! 🙂

Please have fun, and I have fingers and toes crossed for you that soon this fascinating little gem will grace your own jewellery, or otherwise will conjure up images of Vikings and the ancient times – maybe even the Vikings I invented for your entertainment 😉

Aldaith and Nyssa wish you all the best of luck!



All info and other pics than my own taken from “Haithabu” by Birgit Maixner, and the museum’s guides and exhibition. With thanks to Viking Sven, and the craftsmen and -women from Entwerkstatt.

Comments (2)

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *