Northern Europe, Viking or Norse culture, ca. 10th to 11th century CE. An exquisite, high-grade silver (98% silver) necklace composed of a wire knitted into a lengthy chain which terminates at two cast terminals shaped like shepherd's crooks stamped with abstract circular and linear motifs. The loops of the crooks curve around an initial pair of interlocking rings, and the lower rings support two holes within the upper arms of a beautiful X-shaped pendant. The pendant bears four evenly-sized lobes, each bearing a hammered, stippled swastika separated by a central, lattice-patterned interior cross on the obverse side; the verso bears a pair of smooth casting nubs. Wearable and stylish, this is a fabulous example of elegant Viking silversmithing! Amethyst fragment for photography purposes only. Size (necklace): 26.5" L (67.3 cm); size (pendant): 1.625" W x 1.625" H (4.1 cm x 4.1 cm); quality of silver: 98%; total weight: 216.5 grams.
A piece such as this would have been made in a specialized workshop centered around a hearth, probably using the lost wax casting technique. The important Viking metalworking shops correspond to their great trading ports and proto-urban centers - Birka, Helgo, Sigtuna, and Lund in Sweden, Ribe, Haithabu (Hedeby), and Fyrkat in Denmark, and Kaupang and Trondheim in Norway. Silver was the principal currency of the Viking world, which stretched from Russia to northern Canada at the height of their influence. In many places, the Vikings kept silver not as coins, but as jewelry, a wearable currency form that was not subject to the authority of a monarch or mint. One of the most common archaeological finds from the Viking period is a hoard of metal objects, often buried in the earth or deposited in bodies of water, like river beds. These have been found throughout the British Isles and the Nordic countries.
Provenance: private New York, New York, USA collection
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