A Viking arm ring could be used as currency, decoration or as a sign of loyalty to their jarl, king, leader or wife. Before and after Vikings used coins for currency, they used jewelry as currency. The most common material for currency was probably silver. Pieces of silver jewelry could be cut or broken into smaller pieces and traded for goods and services. They would weigh the silver pieces to determine their value and purchasing power.
A Vikings oath of allegiance until death was often signified by an arm ring given by the leader to his warriors and followers. Viking arm rings were also given to boys and were a sign of their entry into manhood in their community. A very significant moment in their life. A young man was then allowed to join the other men in search of wealth, glory and fame. Little is more significant in a man's life than his passage into manhood and his oath to his leader until death. This made it a powerful and meaningful symbol.
As these men were often away for several months raiding, trading and colonizing they would give special Viking arm rings to their wife or girlfriend as a sign of fidelity and love. These traditions made Viking arm rings a very important symbol among the Norse people. They were an important sign of loyalty, love, community, support and a young man's passage from childhood to manhood. These simple gifts could not have been more significant to a community.
Vikings were well known for their jewelry making as far back as the 9th and 10th centuries. Hoards of Viking jewelry have been found all over Europe and beyond. Vikings were very skilled at making jewelry from tin, bronze, iron, silver and gold. They made very intricate and beautiful designs and used many Norse symbols, animals and forms from nature. Ravens, wolves, dragons and many mystical symbols that had much deeper meanings than just decoration. Jewelry representing the Thunder God Thor were very popular among Vikings and were believed to provide protection to the believers. Who better to protect you than the mightiest warrior of Norse mythology?
A common method of jewelry making was the lost wax method. This method has been used by artists for over 6,000 years. Vikings probably learned the technique during their distant travels. The jeweler would make a wax model of the item they were creating and then encase it in wax to create a mold. The artist would then pour molten metal into the mold. After the metal cooled and hardened, the artist would break and remove the wax mold revealing the piece. Vikings became very skilled at creating very intricate and beautiful jewelry of tin, iron, bronze, silver and gold.
Raiding and trading across Europe and beyond had its advantages. Vikings were able to procure materials, methods and ideas from different cultures around the known world and bring them home for the benefit of their families and communities. This included their jewelry making techniques.
Browse all of our Viking jewelry and you will likely find something that will have significant meaning to you or a loved one.