Brooches were an everyday and everywhere type item of jewelry among the Scandinavian peoples during the Viking Age. These ornate and intricate pieces served not only as a fashion statement, but also played an important cultural and functional role in Viking society. But have you ever wondered why? In this post, we will explore the use of Viking brooches, their meaning, and significance.
Why did the Vikings Wear Brooches?
Viking brooches were used to fasten clothing, such as cloaks and tunics, and played a large role as an important accessory in the Viking wardrobe. They also played a role as symbols of wealth, status, and power. The intricate designs, shapes, and materials used to make brooches varied, reflecting regional and cultural differences within the Viking world, and had a great variety as a result.
Brooches Were Worn by All
The use of brooches was not limited to the wealthy and powerful. Both men and women wore brooches, with some being simple and functional, while others were elaborate and decorative. Wealthier individuals often wore brooches made from precious metals, such as silver and gold, adorned with precious stones and intricate patterns.
Common Motifs in Viking Brooches
The Vikings also used brooches to express their identity and own sense of style. They often depicted decorative motifs largely influenced by what mattered most to vikings. Their religious, and family core beliefs, and included animals, mythical creatures, and runic inscriptions. These themes acted as one way for vikings to showcase, in a visual manner, their sense of individuality, as well as their heritage and values.
Archaeological evidence indicates that brooches were in common use during the late eighth century on towards the eleventh, and evolved along with the advancements and skills of metalworking towards more intricate designs.
The most iconic and recognizable of the viking brooches is what is referred to as the “thistle brooch”. It features a frame that is circular with a central boss, as well as an all encompassing thistle resembling projections. It was made popular in the ninth and tenth centuries and was proudly worn by both viking men and women.
Another popular item was the “oval brooch,” which featured an oval frame with a central boss and decorated with geometric patterns or animal figures. These brooches were primarily worn by women and were used to secure the cloak or shawl.
Viking brooches served a dual purpose in Viking society, acting both as a practical item of clothing and as a symbol of wealth, status, and cultural identity. The intricate designs and cultural motifs that adorned these brooches offer a glimpse into the rich and diverse cultural heritage of the Viking world.