Apollo Galleries | The Viking Collection

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Apollo Galleries

The Viking Collection

MARCH 2024
MARCH 2024

The Viking Collection

An Exquisite Array of Gold and Silver Jewellery

Apollo Galleries presents our stunning collection of Viking jewellery, featuring a range of gold and silver metalwork from throughout the period.

Highlights include a stunning gold twisted pennanular bracelet; complete with punched terminal decorations, a lovely silver chain necklace from the Late Viking period, adorned with coiled filgree collars and hoops, and a silver gilt pendant, decorated with an image of two entwined beasts.

All of the items listed in this catalogue are available for direct purchase. Please feel free to signal your interest through getting in contact with our Gallery team.

6 Contents 10 Viking Jewellery: A Collector’s Guide 20 Gold Twisted Pennanular Bracelet - XRF Tested 24 Silver Chain Necklace 28 Heavy Gold Twisted Ring 32 Silver-Gilt Pendant with Scrolls 34 Gold Twisted Loop Bezel Ring
7 35 Large Silver-Gilt Pendant with Entwined Beasts 36 Silver Mjolnir Pendant 38 Gold Twisted Ring 42 Large Silver-Gilt Pendant with Interlace Design 45 Silver Ring with Engraved Design 46 Gold Pendant with Wolf’s Tooth

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Viking Jewellery A Collector’s Guide


The Viking period arguably began around the late 8th Century AD, when the Scandinavian peoples undertook various expeditions raiding and trading across the furthest reaches of the known world. During this period the “Vikings” sailed far and wide and the art they produced made an impact on a very large geographical area. [1] For example, a Swedish runic inscription and engraving from the 11th century AD have been found carved into a marble lion located in the Piraeus Harbour, Athens. [2] Viking culture and art persisted until the widespread uptake of Christianity in Scandinavia marked a cultural shift and the end of the period, commencing around the 12th century AD. Even then, however, we find evidence of Viking-style art persisting in Christian contexts, such as the Urnes style carvings on the famous Urnes stave church.

It must be said that the Vikings did not make fine art in the modern sense, but instead produced finely decorated practical or functional objects with a remarkable level of stylistic homogeneity. [3] Today then, we will be focussing on the common themes of this “art” through the lens of metalwork. Utilising our fabulous Viking jewellery collection, we will demonstrate the economic, social, and political importance of jewellery in the Viking age and the value it still holds to modern-day scholars of Scandinavian decorative art.

Jewellery as a Source

Jewellery is uniquely important to the study of Viking art, most simply because it is what we have the most of. The volume of metalwork found in hoards and single burials vastly outstrips sensational yet rare wooden finds such as the Oseberg Ship, largely because more fragile materials like wood and textiles do not survive as well as metal. [4] Even within the general umbrella of metalwork there is discrepancy between silver and gold finds, with silver jewellery appearing much more frequently and in a large range of contexts. Silver also appears both worked and in the form of hack-silver. [5]

Gold is considerably rarer, with most examples appearing in the form of finger or arm rings in an almost exclusively hoard context, rather than being found in burials. [6] This is a result of supply constrictions, as the flow of gold from the Byzantine and Arabic worlds to the West largely ceased at the end of the 7th Century AD, restricting the availability of gold in Scandinavia. [7]

Evidence of jewellery production is also key to demonstrating the increasing urbanisation of Scandinavian peoples during the Viking Age. We have evidence early in the period (8th10th Centuries AD) for village units engaging in trade in the form of regulated seasonal marketplaces. [8] While the agricultural products of these efforts are understandably hard to come by, metalwork and specialised jewellery production survive better and are vital to the discovery and analysis of these prototype towns. Signs of mass production in these settlements are also key to illuminating how the practice of wearing jewellery travelled down the social ladder.


The Purpose of Viking Jewellery

The function of Viking jewellery is manifold and can differ greatly according to the shape and material of certain pieces. Most broadly, gold and silver items functioned as portable measures of wealth, used for exchange in a barter economy that was only superseded by the widespread adoption of coinage in the late 10th Century AD. From the finds, it seems that gold ornaments were generally traded intact, while silver ornaments and ingots were cut up according to weight and used as ‘small change’ and minor payments, thus explaining the ‘hack-silver’ we see in many hoards. [9] Gold and silver jewellery could also have religious significance, as rings of both types are often found in temple hoards or in connection to sacred ceremonies. [10]

The widespread popularity of metal amulets also attests to the religious function of jewellery. The Vikings largely eschewed representational art, preferring instead to utilise patterns or heavily stylised versions of real beings. Thus, the rare decision to produce something of representational character has led scholars to believe that these items held religious or protective significance.[11] Metal stave pendants are thus associated with the cult of Odin, while pendants of agricultural items are thought to be connected to fertility gods such as Frey. The most common and arguably iconic example of this theme is the Mjolnir pendant. These hammered-shaped pendants likely belonged to worshippers of Thor, the god of Thunder, and range significantly in quality, indicating popularity across the social scale. [12]

Gold Rings and Social Prestige

Wendt has argued that gold finger and arm rings played a more complex function in the Later Viking social system, becoming embedded in the politics of the retinue system. [13] This is because a large number of Old Norse texts describe the gold ring or “baugr” as a gift by the ruler to his men / his retainers. This transforms the ring into a marker of socio-political status and position in the court system. [14] Wendt argues that this specific exchange forms a part of the larger landscape of gift-giving at an elite level that sustained and preserved the Viking social system. Headager describes it best, denoting such gifts as: “The axis around which the upper stratum of society moved; by means of the gift and the reciprocal gift social systems were continually recreated.”[15] Thus, while being perennially important for other reasons, the gold ring has a special function as a signifier of elite Viking relationships.

Figure 1. Viking Gold Odin Head Pendant Ca. AD 900-1000

Common Themes in Viking Art

The most enduring and recognisable theme in Viking art is the animal motif, which falls into three broad categories, the ribbon animal, the gripping beast, and the great beast. [16] The ribbon animal is a device used across a range of Viking media throughout the period, functioning essentially as a pseudo-figural pattern that can be repeated or entwined around other ornamental details. The gripping beast, a frontal figure with a mask-like head invented in the pre-Viking era, is distinguished by arms that grip onto itself or peripheral decoration. [17] It was popular in the early Viking Age, until about Ca. AD 950. The Great Beast was a later invention (Ca. AD 950) that became popular at the end of the Viking Age, consisting of a more clearly defined, four-legged creature that was often accompanied by foliate motifs. [18] It is comparatively rare in metalwork as Ca. AD 1000 saw the decline of mass-produced metal ornamentation, so common in earlier periods. [19]

Given the aforementioned aversion by the Vikings to representational art, human figures are hard to come by. When they do appear, they are usually characterised by scholars as gods, or woven into famous stories that remain popular throughout the age. These identifications are mostly based on information on paganism written after the adoption of Christianity in Scandinavia and elsewhere, such as the likes of Snorri Sturluson, a 13th-century AD Icelandic writer and politician. [20] Thus, they should be taken with a pinch of salt.

Nevertheless, some attributes to look out for when analysing art involving human figures would be the hammer of Thor, who himself is often included in a dynamic scene with the World Serpent where he tries to fish him from the sea. Women with weapons and on horseback are likely to be Valkyries and a male figure with a staff or spear may be interpreted as Heimdall, watchman and herald for the Norse gods. [21]

By AD 1100, Scandinavia had emerged into a collection of Christian nation-states. This did not happen overnight, however, as Christian missionaries were spreading the word in the region as early as the 8th Century AD. This gradual incorporation of Christianity manifested itself in contemporary Viking art, leading to an unusual mixing of pagan and Christian motifs. [22] A brilliant example of this is the adoption in Scandinavia in the late 11th Century AD of the Byzantine reliquary crucifix pendant. In contrast to the standard sagging figure, clothed in a loincloth, the Vikings generally depict Jesus in trousers, bound to the cross in a heroic and triumphant manner. [23] This change may have come about to persuade greater rates of conversion in Scandinavia, presenting Christ in a manner innkeeping with Viking values in order to inspire further support.

Figure 2. Rare Viking Gold Cross Pendant Ca. AD 900-1100


Jewellery and metalwork are thus wonderful sources for helping us gain an insight into the significance and development of decorative art during the Viking Age. Abundant in number and utilised in a plethora of different ways, jewellery illuminates how the Vikings became urbanised, engaged in trade, and differentiated themselves socially through elaborate gift-giving systems. The stylistic development evidenced by metalwork also allows us to see how Viking art changed according to both external and internal influences, seen most dramatically following the spread of Christianity into Scandinavia.


Graham-Campbell, J., 2013, Viking art, London.

Hammond, B., 2013, British Artefacts, Volume III – Late Saxon, Viking and Norman. Ipswich.

Hedeager, L., 1994. “Warrior Economy and Trading Economy in Viking Age S candinavia.” Journal of European Archaeology 2.1.

Tait. H., 1976, Jewellery Through 7000 Years. London.

Wendt, Antje, 2008. “Viking Age Gold Rings and the Question of “Gefolgschaft”.” Lund Archaeological Review 13-14 (2007-2005). 75-90.




1] Graham-Campbell 2013, 6. “Viking” is a slight misnomer as it creates the idea of unity and ethnic demarcation, when, despite shared Germanic roots, there was much diversity and political fragmentation among the Scandinavian peoples.

[2] Graham-Campbell 2013, 21.

[3] Graham-Campbell 2013, 7.

[4] Graham-Campbell 2013, 46.

[5] Wendt 2000, 79.

[6] Wendt 2000, 83.

[7] Tait 1976, 138.

[8] Graham-Campbell 2013, 12.

[9] Graham-Campbell 2013, 13.

[10] Wendt 2000, 87.

[11] Graham-Campbell 2013, 170.

[12] Graham-Campbell 2013, 168.

[13] Wendt 2000.

[14] Wendt 2000, 78.

[15] Hedeager 1994, 132.

[16] Graham-Campbell 2013, 35.

[17] Graham-Campbell 2013, 29, 63. See the discussion on Style E for the motif’s development.

[18] Hammond 2013, 26.

[19] Graham-Campbell 2013, 115.

[20] Graham-Campbell 2013, 161.

[21] Graham-Campbell 2013, 161-165.

[22] Graham-Campbell 2013, 10.

[23] Graham-Campbell 2013, 178.

18 Catalogue


Eastern Scandinavia / The Baltic, Early 2nd Millennium AD

Gold, L: 73.5mm / W: 67mm; Weight: 72.67g


This stunning gold bracelet is the highlight of our collection. Formed of a series of interwoven strands, the intricate metalwork tapers at the edges to form solid, flat terminals. These terminals are stamped with two opposing rows of identical triangles, each punctuated by a relief pellet. An exquisite example.

This piece typifies the multiplicity of Viking Age jewellery: it is at once a bold adornment, a statement of wealth and in a more practical sense, a store of wealth. This is because it would have also functioned as portable bullion, to be exchanged or in some cases cut up to facilitate trade. We are thus fortunate to have such a fine example intact. Arm-rings and neck-rings such as these were a particularly popular form of ornament for Viking traders and raiders. Please see the article above for discussion on the significance of gold rings as part of the Viking retinue system and elite social landscape.

For a similar example, see:

The British Museum, Museum number: 1849,0210.1


Freeman and Sear, Los Angeles. The Hall Family Collection. Ex. New York Gallery. Private collection, United Kingdom, acquired from the above; a copy of the original invoice to be included with the item. Please note that this item has been studied and assessed by experts at the Jorvik Viking Museum, York.


For additional information see:

Blurton, T. R., 1997,The enduring image: Treasures from the British Museum. British Council.

Wendt, A., 2008. “Viking Age Gold Rings and the Question of “Gefolgschaft”. Lund Archaeological Review, 13-14 (2007-2005), 75-90.



Ca. 10-11th Century AD

Silver, L: 80cm; Weight: 134g


This exquisite silver necklace is composed of an intricate series of openwork links. Attached to this chain are two coiled, filigree collars and a central hoop with intertwined bezel and coiled sleeves.

This necklace is a highly unusual example of Viking adornment. While pendants and neck-rings are relatively common in the evidential corpus, necklace cords are very rare and found almost exclusively in hoard contexts. Metal cords such as this are rarer still, as it is believed that many common cords were made of perishable material.

There is minimal evidence found in male Viking burials to suggest that Viking men were particularly fond of wearing necklaces. Cords of this nature have, however, been found accompanying female skeletons. In light of this, this item was likely to have been made for a woman, for personal adornment but also to demonstrate the wealth of her family.

For a similar example, see: The British Museum, Museum number: 1841,0711.724

Provenance: From the collection of a North American gentleman, formed in the 1990s.


For additional information see:

Gräslund, A.S., 1992. “Thor’s hammers, pendant crosses and other amulets” in Roesdahl E & Wilson D.M (eds). From Viking to Crusader: The Scandinavians and Europe 800-1200.New York, 190-191.

Jesch, J., 2003. Women in the Viking age. Suffolk, Boydell Press.



Eastern Scandinavia / Baltic, Early 2nd Millenium AD

Gold, D: 32mm / UK size: V; Weight: 13.42g


A very large gold ring formed of six interwoven bands that taper into thinner, more solid section of gold. The surface of the ring is smooth, with minimal nicks or damage, rare on an item of such a large size. The number of bands used on the bezel of the ring creates a dense mesh of intertwined knots that some believe is evocative of the World Serpent, Jörmungandr.

According to legend, Jörmungandr was one of the three children of Loki and the giantess Angrboda, along with Hel and Fenrir. Odin tossed him into the ocean as a child and it was said that he grew so large that he could encircle all of Midgard (The Human Realm). The World Serpent was famous for his rivalry with Thor, the god of thunder, and this rivalry is prominent in Viking mythology. The two are destined to kill one and other during Ragnarök, the Viking apocalypse.

Aside from their economic, social and religious functions, Wendt has argued that finger rings such as this example were laden with added socio-political significance in the Late Viking retinue system, being described in Old Norse texts as gifts by the ruler to his men / his retainers.

For a similar example, see: The British Museum, Museum number: 1905,1108.1

Provenance: Private Scottish collection, L.T., formed since the 1990s. Please note that this item has been studied and assessed by experts at the Jorvik Viking Museum, York.


For additional information see:

Wendt, A., 2008. “Viking Age Gold Rings and the Question of “Gefolgschaft”. Lund Archaeological Review, 13-14 (2007-2005). 75-90.

Lund-Hansen, U., 2001. “Gold Rings-Symbols of Sex and Rank.” In Magnus, B. (ed.), Roman Gold and the Development of the Early Germanic Kingdoms. Aspects of technical, socio-political, socio-economic, artistic and intellectual development A.D. 1-550. Stockholm.



Ca. 9th-11th Century AD

Silver / Gold, H: 46mm; Weight: 12.06g


This cast silver gilt pendant is rendered in a cross-shape and features an intricate design of interlacing openwork. The delicate pattern of intersecting knots is highlighted by a series of pellets that border the interior of the knots. These designs converge on a square lozenge that sits at the centre of the design. The pendant is supported by a large, ripped suspension loop.

The ‘Pretzel Knot’ shaped designs evident on this piece were a common feature of Viking jewellery throughout the period, being utilised in all styles except for Jellinge (Ca. AD 900-975) and Urnes (Ca. AD 1050-1125), yet the use of pellets distinguishes the pendant from the earliest forms of Viking jewellery. The gilding on the front face of the piece is remarkably preserved.

For a similar example, see:

The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Accession Number: 2000.140


Private collection formed in Europe in the 1980s; formerly in a Westminster collection, central London, UK.

For additional information see:

Wilson, D. M., 2008, “The Development of Viking Art.” In The Viking World. Edited by Stefan Brink with Neil Price, 323–338. London.

Graham-Campbell, J., 2013, Viking art, London.


Ca. 10th Century AD

Gold, D: 23mm / UK Size: M1/2; Weight: 7.25g


This lovely gold ring consists of a round-section gold hoop which forms a running scroll of open loops across the bezel. This ring is a very rare type, with only a few Viking examples coming to market in the last few years. It is very similar in character to a group of coiled spiral-bezel rings known from 6th-7th century AD Anglo-Saxon graves in the Kent region, a testament to the enduring quality of the motif.

For a similar copper example, see: MacGregor and Bolick 1993, no. 27.20.

Provenance: Private German Collection, formed in the 1990’s.

For additional information see: MacGregor, A. and Bolick, E., 1993, Details for A summary catalogue of the Anglo-Saxon collections (non-ferrous metals), Ashmolean Museum. Oxford.


Ca. 10th-12th Century AD

Silver / Gold, D: 24 mm; Weight: 3.1g


This delicate, circular silver pendant is finely decorated and bears some of its original gilding. The back is flat and smoothly worked, while the front is adorned with a pattern of filigree coils and granules. At the centre lies a rosette with eleven petals. This is neatly framed in a diamond shape by the aformentioned coils. An integral suspension loop is attached to the top of the design. This pendant is from the Later Viking Age, bearing some stylistic motifs that designate it as such. The more naturalistic and foliate patterns depicted at the front are a common feature of the Ringerike style, popular in the 11th Century AD.

Provenance: From the family collection of a London gentleman, formed in the late 1940s-1950s; thence by descent.

For additional information see: Graham-Campbell, J., 2013, Viking art, London. Fuglesang, S.H., 1980, Some Aspects of the Ringerike Style: A Phase of 11th Century Scandinavian Art. Univ. Pr., Odense.



Ca. 10th Century AD

Silver, H: 29mm / W: 28mm; Weight: 6.96g


This pendant is in the shape of a double-headed hammer. Made in silver, the pendant is decorated with triangular stamps with a central boss. A shallow groove replicates the pendant’s shape at the centre.

This design is connected to ‘Mjolnir,’ the famous hammer of the Norse god, Thor. In Norse mythology, Thor’s hammer is the greatest of all the gods’ treasures as it represents Thor’s role as a protector of both humans and the gods from the ever-present threat of the giants. When worn as a pendant or adorning jewellery this symbol represents Thor’s sacred function as a protective deity and served an amuletic purpose. Small pendants of this type are also often found in funerary contexts.

For a similar example, see: The National Museum of Denmark, Museum Number: C1787/C1786


Found in Denmark. Part of a German private collection formed in the 1990s; formerly acquired at a Munich antiquity fair.

For additional information see:

Gräslund, A.S., 1992. “Thor’s hammers, pendant crosses and other amulets” in Roesdahl E & Wilson D.M (eds). From Viking to Crusader: The Scandinavians and Europe 800-1200.New York, 190-191.

Graham-Campbell, J., 2013, Viking art, London.

Arbman, H., 1943, Birka I. Die Gräber. Tafeln. Stockholm.



Ca. 9th-11th Century AD

Gold, D: 27mm / UK: P 1/2; Weight: 9.97g


An exquisite gold finger-ring formed of two square-sectioned rods twisted together in an elaborate design. These then taper to ends which have been hammered together into a thin band and secured with two symmetrical, wrapped terminals.

At the end of the 7th Century, gold became relatively scarce in Scandinavia as the flow of the material from the Byzantine and Islamic worlds began to wane. A find of pure gold such as this ring is thus relatively rare.

Remarkably in comparison to silver, gold rings are rarely discovered in graves but rather occur almost exclusively in hoard contexts. Fabetch has found that, along with being buried for safekeeping or as a store of wealth, gold rings were also passed down in temple hoards as religious items, protected from possible destruction during the rapid Christianisation of the Scandinavian world.

For a similar example, see: The British Museum, Museum number: 1853,0412.71


From the private collection of a Central London gentleman; previously in a collection formed on the UK/European art market before 2000.

For additional information see:

Wendt, A., 2008. “Viking Age Gold Rings and the Question of “Gefolgschaft”. Lund Archaeological Review 13-14 (2007-2005). 75-90.



Ca. 9th-11th Century AD

Silver / Gold, H: 49mm; Weight: 19.83g


This lovely circular silver pendant features a cast suspension loop and the remains of gilding on its front side, the back being smooth and unworked.

The front of the pendant bears an intricate design of two interlaced, symmetrical beasts. The creatures cross at the centre, with legs and arms protruding into the outer perimeter of decoration. Their heads are thrown back, close to the top of the pendant, with wide circular eyes and open mouths. The presence of spiral hip joints at the base of the pendant marks, along with the circular eyes and thrown back heads, the design as late in the development of Viking art, likely associated with the Mammen style (Ca. AD 950-1025).

The Mammen style was named for the silver inlaid designs found on an axe head excavated in Denmark (The “Mammen Axe”). The style is rarely found in metalwork, as the period during which Mammen was popular coincided with the decline in mass-produced metal ornaments.


Private collection formed in Europe in the 1980s; formerly in a Westminster collection, Central London, UK.

For a similar example, see: The British Museum, Museum Number: 1866,0224.1

For additional information see:

Kershaw, J., 2011, “Viking-Age Scandinavian art styles and their appearance in the British Isles. Part 2: Late Viking-Age art styles.” Finds Research Group, Datasheet 43.

Graham-Campbell, J., 2013, Viking Art, London.



Ca. 10th Century AD

Gold / Bone, L: 44mm / W: 15mm; Weight: 7.48g


For the Vikings, wolves were a symbol of Odin and emblematic of the transition into death, indeed many Norse texts and inscriptions use wolves as metaphors for death, usually as the result of martial violence. In Viking mythology, Odin himself is fated to die at the hands of Fenrir, the monstrous child of Loki and the giantess Angrboða. In terms of context, other animal tooth pendants such as those of bears have been commonly found in female or child graves. They are thought to function in a similar fashion to representational metalwork pendants, in this case having magical properties surrounding fertility or protection.

Provenance: Private German collection, formed in the 1990’s on the UK/International art market.

For additional information see: Zori, Davide, 2023, Age of Wolf and Wind: Voyages through the Viking. New York. Pluskowski, A., 2023, “Conjuring Canids: Wolves and Dogs in Viking Age Sorcery.” In Gardeła, L., Bønding, S., & Pentz, P., (Eds.), The Norse Sorceress: Mind and Materiality in the Viking World. 229–238.



Ca. 9th-12th Century AD

Silver, D: 20.48mm / UK Size: K1/2; Weight: 4.5g


This silver ring is composed of a coiled body with an expanded and flattened central section. The bezel is decorated with a raised medial rib and punched zigzags above and below.

Silver rings have an array of functions in Viking society. They were a symbol of prestige and wealth, but many Old Norse texts also mention them in connection with the hack-silver economy. They also feature in temple hoards, suggesting religious significance. Given the ubiquity of silver jewellery in hoard contexts, they are even useful to comparatively date their gold counterparts.

Provenance: From the collection of a North American gentleman, formed in the 1990s.

For a similar example, see: The British Museum, Museum Number: 1852,0329.242.

For additional information see: Hårdh, B. 1995. Silver in the Viking Age. A Regional Economic Study. Stockholm.


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Collection Curated by Dr. Ivan Bonchev

Gallery Administration

Margherita Gorini

Ella Wakefield

Catalogue Design

Margherita Gorini

Ella Wakefield


Raphael Werneck

Viking Jewelley, A Collector’s Guide

Ella Wakefield

The Viking Collection

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