Personal ornaments from the Vikings

2 Oct
Several different ringed pins from the exhibit

Several different ringed pins from the exhibit

The National Museum of Ireland had many interesting exhibits throughout the gallery.  Each exhibit represented a different time of Ireland’s history.  Immediately, I was attracted to an exhibit about the Viking Age, which occurred from 800 AD to 1150 AD.  I wanted to learn more about this time period because I was interested to see if my perception of the Viking era matched the reality of the time period.

After looking throughout the exhibit, I came across a section entirely comprised of personal ornaments.  In this section, there were amber and glass stone necklaces, amulets, finger rings, ringed pins, and brooches. My attention was drawn to the ringed pins, an object that varied in size from five to ten centimeters and was produced entirely from copper-alloy.  The pins are a similar shape to a toothpick with a small ring at the top.  Of all the artifacts in the National Museum of Ireland, I was attracted to the ringed pins solely for their appearance.  When I think of the Viking period, brutality and ferocity immediately comes to my mind.  Therefore, I found it extremely fascinating that ornate and delicate personal ornaments, such as the ringed pins, were held in such high regard during a period filled with violence.  The ringed pins served the purpose of decoration as well as functionality.  The pins were typically used to fasten clothing together.  The pins are similar to other artifacts during the Viking Age because copper-alloy was a heavily used material during this time.  Copper-alloy was also used to produce finger rings, brooches, and toilet sets which include tweezers and nail or ear picks.

Among other artifacts, the pins were discovered in the Viking graves of the ninth and tenth centuries from Ireland and Norway.  The graves and several Viking towns were excavated between 1961 and1981.  I find it fascinating that the artifacts in the exhibit are still in excellent condition despite their age.  Although the exhibit did not describe the importance of the personal ornaments, I believe that the amount and type of personal ornaments one had would indicate one’s wealth.  For example, if an individual had several necklaces that were extremely ornate and featured precious stones such as amber they were wealthier than an individual who wore simple necklaces made only from copper-alloy.  The Viking period was very interesting to learn about and after the exhibit I believe I have a greater understanding of the history and culture of that time.





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