The Viking Rangle

Steve Mijatovic

 

This article is to discuss this reasonably common yet rarely recreated Viking Age item. So what exactly is a rangle? A rangle is a type of sliding rattle consisting of a large metal ring which has other smaller rings attached to it, it often has a socket or hasp by which a handle can be attached or a shaped hook on the end. When the rangle is shaken the smaller rings known as soundings clash together creating a jingling metallic sound. The number of soundings varies and on the more elaborate rangles there could be multiple rows of different sized soundings which would produce a different tone.

Finds and interpretations

Interestingly enough, we have no clear literary or pictorial evidence. Our only sources are actual archaeological finds. The rangle seems to be a Norwegian phenomenon with roughly 98% (249 examples) of the finds coming from (mainly eastern) Norway with others were located in Sweden and Finland. Of the 150 finds from graves there is a strong male bias with 92% of finds being attributed to male graves and only 8% to female (Petersen 1951: 55). Their design and size varies significantly. 

rangleDifferent types of the Norwegian rangles. Taken from Lund 1981: Fig. 3.

The first and most widely accepted theory is based around the fact that the rangles seem to appear predominantly in elite graves where riding equipment is present (Petersen 1951: 43). This would seem to suggest some sort equine related use, possibly as sleigh bells on carts or sledges, making the ride of the noble person more impressive. Norwegian archaeomusicologist Casja Lund performed a successful experiment to validate this argument using the rattles on a replica of the Oseberg wagon (Lund 1974). We can find many historical and ethnographic parallels.

rangle-wagonPossible use of some Norwegian rangles. Taken from Lund 1981: Fig. 4.

The second view is that the rangles (as well as bells) use was in ritual, ceremony or shamanism. This school of thought seems to be based heavily on the rangles found in the Oseberg burial, because those are atypically decorated with dragon heads inlayed with precious metal. Moreover, the mound of Oseberg is contained several other objects that are associated with seiðr and seeresses, for example a wooden staff or wand, and cannabis seeds in a purse.

Scholars often propose the suggestion that the rattle was used to frighten or ward off evil spirits. This idea is also supported by Saxo Grammaticus and his Gesta Danorum (early 1200s), where he connects jingling or rattling with the worship of Freyr:

He went into the land of the Swedes, where he lived at leisure for seven years’ space with the sons of Frey. At last he left them and betook himself to Hakon, the tyrant of Denmark, because when stationed at Uppsala, at the time of the sacrifices, he was disgusted by the effeminate gestures and the clapping of the mimes on the stage, and by the unmanly clatter of the bells.” (Traslated by O. Elton)

Based on this message, Terry Gunnell came with the theory that rangles could be used during leikar, the costumed ceremonies connected to the cult feasts (Gunnel 1995: 78-79). Julie Lund thinks that this powerful tool was included to the liminal phase of the funeral, similarly to medieval bells (Lund 2006: 335).

The third possible use for the rangle was as a musical instrument. Apart from the Grammaticus quote above, there are modern day folk instruments, such as the lagerphone, which could be used in a similar fashion by tapping out a rhythm and causing the soundings to jingle.

C20168The find from Torshov, Norway (C20168). Taken from Unimus catalogue.

The Recreation

I first encountered the rangle when doing some research into Viking Age music and instruments, which are quite underrepresented in my local reenactment scene. The item in question did not resemble anything I had ever seen in a reenactment context and I was curious if it could be the ‘clattering bells’ described by Grammaticus. Some quick research revealed some debate about the use of these rangles and I thought that a recreation may help me form an opinion if the rangle could be used as a musical instrument or if it was more suited to one of the other proposed uses.

While searching for more information to commence my reproduction I was lucky enough to come across a toolmaker who was already producing the metalwork component. Dennis Riley from Daegrad tools in the UK makes some fantastic replica items and always provides the find details along with the item.

I ordered the replica of the find from Torshov from Daegrad and once it arrived I decided to mount it on a smaller handle. I used some oak dowel I had lying about and carved a simple spiral serpent into it to assist with grip. I was unable to find any record of a surviving handle so my handle was pure conjecture but given some of the finds are from high status graves and feature elaborate decoration on the heads my modest handle decoration did not seem overboard. With a now complete rangle there was only one thing left to do and that was try it out.

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Questions and answers

A surprising part about the reconstruction is that it has been a source of curiosity and speculation to everyone who sees the rangle. It’s constantly being picked up and swung around by people testing the best way to make it jingle and clatter.

Reenactors of many years experience will express surprise that they have never even heard of such a thing and then be found passing it back and forward while debating the possible uses. Seeing that engagement and spark of curiosity has been one of the most rewarding parts of this simple project.

So to premise one, the rangle as a musical instrument?

Plausible but unlikely as a solo instrument. Although it could have been used as a percussion accompaniment, it’s sound is very raucous and not at all pleasing to the ear. Some modern musicians such as the group Eldrim have used rattles in attempts to recreate Viking music.

Premise two, the rangle as a ritual item?

Plausible. The rangle bears some resemblance to the wands used by vǫlur and the loud rattling could have been used in ritual as suggested to frighten or ward off evil spirits. Moreover, The Book of the Settlement (Landnámabók) mentions a man called Loðmundr gamli that performed sorcery, using his stick with a ring. Another possible ritual use could simply be to gain attention, such as a leader using it to call for silence before speaking.

Premise three, the rangle as an equine accessory?

Probable. As experts have pointed out the frequency of the rangle being discovered in graves with horse related goods is too high to discount. And while I am yet to test it on horseback I did find that if held over the shoulder while walking it gets a nice rhythmic clinking in time with your step.

Bibliography

Saxo Grammaticus, The Danish History of Saxo Grammaticus, translated by Oliver Elton, 1905. London: Forgotten Books, 2008.

Gunnell, Terry (1995). The Origins of Drama in Scandinavia. Cambridge: D. S. Brewer.

Lund, Cajsa (1974). Paa rangel 1974. In: Stavanger museums årbok, Stavanger, pp. 45-120.

Lund, Cajsa (1981). The archaeomusicology of Scandinavia, World Archaeology, 12:3, pp. 246-265.

Lund, Julie (2006). Vikingetidens værktøjskister i landskab og mytologi. In: Fornvännen 101, Stockholm, pp. 323-341.

Petersen, Jan (1951). Vikingetidens redskaper. Skrifter utgitt av Det Norske videnskapsakademi i Oslo 2, Oslo.

Gokstad belt recreations

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Then and now : the mound after the opening and the current state.

Dear reader, welcome back on this site that is dedicated to research and reenactment!

This time, we will examine belt components from Gokstad mound, Southern Norway. Being covered with 50×43 meters big mound and consisting of a richly furnished ship, the grave is one of the most well-known Scandinavian burials (more here and here). The buried person was probably a man of high rank that was connected to ruling family. Thanks to dendrochronological analysis, it was found that the timber for the burial chamber was cut in the first decade of the 10th century, and therefore the whole grave can be dated to this period (Bonde – Christensen 1993).

Even though the grave was robbed and all weapons and valuables were presumably taken, the presence of organic remnants – like skeletons, leather and wooden objects – as well as some cast products, makes the grave significant. However, the only scientific overview of the find was published by Nicolay Nicolaysen in 1882. It might seem some objects are not even treated in the book, while others are not depicted or described, but we have to realize that the mound was re-opened several times, namely in 1925 and 1928/9. From around 1950 onwards, Gokstad grave has been given academic attention several times, that covered bone, wood and metal analysis, detailed scanning of wooden objects and non-destructive documentation of the mound and near landscape. This delicate work has brought some light into how colourful the grave was originally (for example Bill 2013).

gokstad3

The grave of Gokstad recreated. Made by Ragnar L. Børsheim, Arkikon.no.

Among the finds, there were also many belts components. Before the experimental part of this article, it has to be said that it is not able to determine the sets, nor which components could be waist-worn and which were used as parts of horse bridles. That makes reconstruction extremely difficult, virtually impossible. To sum up, there are at least six belt buckles, at least nine strap-ends, at least seventy-four mounts of eleven different kinds and at least three belt slides. The complete list can be seen or downloaded here. Given the fact the burial consisted of twelve horses, eight dogs, several birds etc., it is very probably the most of belts belonged to animals. In the text below, you can read two different approaches of experienced reenactors and owners of custom-made Gokstad belt recreations. They both try to portray Norwegian high rank men from the 9th/10th century.

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Reconstruction of the bridle from Borre. Taken from Unimus.no.

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Reconstruction of the bridle from Gokstad.

 

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Selection of belt components from Gokstad. Taken from Nicolaysen 1882.

joschJosch Weinbacher

Mannschaft der Ormrinn Brands, Austria

Belts are a crucial parts of reenactor kits. I consider them to belong to the basics, that everyone should get for a start, next to a tunic, trousers, shoes and a simple everyday-use knife. For a lower class character basically everything that can bind the tunic at the waist can serve as a belt. There is, hovever, a tendency towards richly decorated belts, and reenactors often purchase beautifully looking belts with rich fittings, even before doing proper research. I was no different in the beginning, I have to admit. When I started, I bought the first „viking-style“ belt, labelled so because of an overall nordic style, but absolutely not fitting to the region and time I wanted to depict (Norway in the 9th century). It was, in fact, not nordic, nor even early medieval at all, as I found out later.

I could have avoided that by doing my research, but also by taking smaller steps first. A simple D-shaped buckle would have served me perfectly, as I now recognize, and in my opinion even a simple leather strap, a piece of hemp rope or a pleated band would have been sufficient.

After a while, when my ambitions grew and my methods of research got better, I recognized that the issue with belts was a big one, because of a simple fact: tunics, trousers, shoes and knifes are somewhat generic in their overall look, it is hard to specify a reenactors region and timeframe by them alone. The fittings of a belt, however, can identify a person, if they are shaped according to a specific find. That is not only true for belts, but for jewellery in general. That’s way you can easily spot for example a brooch from Gotland on Norwegian woman’s apron, and it can be supposed she did not do her research properly. For belts it is much the same, regions and timeframes get mixed and mingled with others or are chosen wrongly, horsegear appears on people, and even unintended crossdressing can happen. Therefore, I decided that I had to purchase something that would fit the region and timeframe our group depicted better. The Gokstad ship-burial seemed obvious in that regard, because I am the leader of our group and was supposed to show some wealth in my kit.

This was actually of a great difficulty for me. Showing wealth in your kit is, to some extent, forcing you to be wealthy in reality too. Of course a modern recreation of a period piece does not match the worth of the original, but they can be quite expensive anyways. Needless to tell any reenactor that this hobby is an expensive one, I am sure.

When I decided to get myself Gokstad belt, I checked out some artisans who cast belt-fittings, located in Germany. The prices were stunning, and in the end I went along with a kind of poor recreation from an e-shop, that only featured the buckle and strap-end I desired, but no further ornaments, and it was smaller in size than the original. I went along with that for some years, but I was never fully satisfied. It was by mere chance that I later discovered a maker in Poland, who had quite reasonable prices and sold belts with Gokstad fittings. The assambling of the belt was not perfect, because the fittings were placed in a way, that they would be visible if one used the famous belt-knot that is widely accepted in reenactment, but for which there is not real evidence I have knowledge of. So I ordered the fittings only, and intended to assemble the belt myself.

Meanwhile I asked one of our group members, who had allready gained some experience in dying leather with period ingredients, if he could dye a strap for my belt in a bright red, making the finished piece more imposing. He came up with a recipe he found in the Mappae Clavicula, speaking of red wine and kermes. Cochineal was used as a replacement for kermes, again a matter of finances. The result was great. The belt did not become bright red, as intended, but took on dark, almost purple red, much like the colour of wine. For me, it is mostly that colour that makes the belt so great. When the ormaments arrived in the end, I only had to assamble the whole thing. Now I’m finally satisfied with my attire, even if the belt is not yet finished, since I’m still lacking one specific fitting, that I will add when I manage to find it. So my journey to a beautiful belt was a long one, and I have not yet fully completed it, but I am happy that my kit is again a bit improved. And that is, by all means, a process, that can never really end.

 

tomasTomáš Vlasatý

Marobud, Czech Republic

During my reenactment “career”, I have had about five or six belts. Some of them were done with pure fantasy, others were based on particular finds. In the beginning of 2016, I started to feel the need for a new belt, that would fit to my 10th century Norwegian impression. To be honest, it is not so easy to find a well-preserved belt, consisting of a buckle and a strap-end, in the region. Therefore, I decided for Gokstad.

My incredibly skilled friend Jan Bana from Storrvara took the task and made the set to order. During the process, he kept me updated by photos, so I could make some correction online. After several months, the bronze set was done, for a really reasonable price. The set consists of a buckle (C10437), a strap-end (C24239c) and twelve mounts (6×C10445 and 6×C10446). My friend and fellow Jakub Zbránek mounted the components to an impregnated belt for me.

It is true that my choice was quite hasty and motivated by the urge of recreation of unique objects. Indeed, some components are, to my best knowledge, the first imitations after 1100 years. Due to my decision, we were forced to make the buckle a bit smaller than the original, with a bronze tongue and without a folded sheet; the find from Hedrum (T1620) can be an analogy, when it comes to reconstruction. Another mistake is that no component is gilded. The biggest fault, however, is the usage of mounts, that were, with high probability, parts of horse bridles. If I spent more time doing the research, I would save money, and more importantly, my kit would be more accurate. On the other hand, my mistakes encouraged me to write this article. The fact that I was wrong is very important for me and my future progress. I am sure that I am going to order a new one in some time, a belt that would be more accurate and that could be called “a replica”.

 

Before the very end, let me express my thanks to Josch Weinbacher. In case you found this article inspiring, feel free to share it in your community or let us know. For any questions or notes, please, use the comment board below. Love the past, enjoy the present and look forward to the future!

BIBLIOGRAPHY
  • Bill, Jan (2013). Revisiting Gokstad. Interdisciplinary investigations of a find complex investigated in the 19th century: In: Sebastian Brather – Dirk Krausse (ed.), Fundmassen. Innovative Strategien zur Auswertung frühmittelalterlicher Quellenbestände, Darmstadt: Konrad Theiss Verlag, s. 75–86.
  • Bonde, Niels – Christensen, Arne Emil (1993). Dendrochronological dating of the Viking Age ship burials at Oseberg, Gokstad and Tune, Norway. In: Antiquity. A quarterly review of archaeology vol. 67, 256, p. 575–583.
  • Nicolaysen, Nicolay (1882). Langskibet fra Gokstad ved Sandefjord = The Viking-ship discovered at Gokstad in Norway, Kristiania.

“The man from Voll”

volls

Drawn reconstruction of a man from between 850–950 AD. Based on graves from central Norway, including the grave from Voll. Taken from Hjardar, Kim – Vike, Vegard (2011). Vikinger i krig, Oslo, p. 47.

After a month of hard work, I would like to present my article named “The man from Voll : An example of a well-preserved Norwegian male grave“. In this short article, I provided a summary of the rich and well-preserved content of the 10th century inhumation mound from Voll, Overhalla municipality, Nord-Trøndelag county, Norway. The work is supplemented with an abundant catalogue and short reports about the making of spear sheath replicas (Are Pedersen) and a cross-shaped dress pin recreation Roman Král). The article summarizes organic objects in Viking Age graves and suggests how these objects could have been used in the everyday life.

The article can be downloaded by the following button. I hope you will enjoy reading this article. If you have any question or remark, please contact me or leave a comment below. If you want to learn more and support my work, please, fund me via Patreon or Paypal (ceskyreenactment@gmail.com). Thank you!

O Elmo de Gjermundbu

Esta é uma tradução autorizada de um artigo publicado por Tomáš Vlasatý, colega historiador e recriacionista histórico da República Tcheca, mentor do projeto Forlǫg e membro do grupo Marobud. Você pode apoiar o autor através de seu perfil no site Patreon.

Em 30 de março de 1943, a Universidade de Oldsaksamling, em Oslo, obteve informações de que um fazendeiro chamado Lars Gjermundbu havia encontrado e escavado um grande monte de terra perto de sua fazenda Gjermundbu na comuna de Ringerike, no condado de Buskerud, sul da Noruega. No mês seguinte o lugar foi examinado por arqueólogos (Sverre Marstrander e Charlotte Blindheim) e o resultado foi realmente fascinante.
gjerm1

Planta do monte. Retirada de Grieg 1947: Pl. I.

O monte tinha 25 metros de comprimento, 8 metros de largura no ponto mais largo, 1,8 metros de altura na parte central e era predominantemente formado por solo pedregoso; no entanto, o interior da parte central era pavimentado com pedras grandes. Na parte central, cerca de um metro abaixo da superfície e sob a camada de pedra, foi descoberta a primeira sepultura, denominada “Grav I”. A 8 metros de Grav I, na parte ocidental do monte, foi encontrada a segunda sepultura, denominada “Grav II”. Ambas as sepulturas representam enterros de cremações da segunda metade do século X e são catalogadas sob a marca C27317. Ambas as sepulturas foram documentadas por Sigurd Grieg em Gjermundbufunnet : en høvdingegrav fra 900-årene fra Ringerike em 1947.

Grav I consistia em dezenas de objetos ligados à propriedade pessoal e várias atividades, incluindo lutas, arquearia, equitação, jogos de lazer e culinária. Entre outros, os mais interessantes são os objetos únicos como a cota de malha e o elmo, que se tornaram muito famosos e são mencionados ou retratados em quaisquer publicações relevantes.
Předpokládaná rekonstrukce bojovníka uloženého v Gjermundbu, 10. století. Podle

Possível reconstrução do equipamento que foi encontrado em Grav I, Gjermundbu. Tirado de Hjardar – Vike 2011: 155. O formato da coifa é o ponto fraco da reconstrução.

© 2016 Kulturhistorisk Museum, UiO.

O elmo é frequentemente descrito como “o único elmo completo da Era Viking que se tem conhecimento”. Infelizmente isso não é verdade por pelo menos duas razões. Em primeiro lugar, o elmo não é de modo algum completo – ele demonstra danos pesados e consiste em cerca de 10 fragmentos no estado em que se encontra atualmente, o que representa um quarto ou pouco mais de um terço do elmo. Para ser honesto, esses fragmentos do elmo são fixados sobre uma matriz de gesso que tem a forma aproximada do elmo original; alguns deles de maneira especulativa, podem até estar na posição errada. Membros negligentes da academia apresentam essa versão como uma reconstrução nos museus e nos livros, então essa tendência é copiada e reproduzida por recriacionistas e pelo público geral. Tenho de concordar com Elisabeth Munksgaard (Munksgaard 1984: 87), que escreveu: “O elmo de Gjermundbu não está bem preservado nem bem restaurado“.

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Uma antiga reconstrução do elmo, feita por Erling Færgestad. Retirada de Grieg 1947: Pl. VI.

Em segundo lugar, há publicações sobre fragmentos de pelo menos 5 outros elmos espalhados pela Escandinávia e também em áreas com forte influência escandinava (veja o artigo Elmos Escandinavos do Século X [em inglês]). Estou ciente de vários achados e interpretações não publicadas cujas autenticidades não podem ser comprovadas, especialmente os fragmentos de elmos encontrados em Tjele, na Dinamarca, que são muito próximos ao elmo de Gjermundbu, uma vez que consistem em uma máscara e oito faixas estreitas de metal de 1 cm de largura (veja o artigo O Elmo de Tjele [em tcheco]). Baseado nos fragmentos do elmo de Gjermundbu, nos fragmentos do elmo de Tjele e na máscara de Kyiv (o formato original do fragmento de Lokrume é desconhecido), podemos dizer que o tipo de elmo “spectacle helmet” (algo como elmo com máscara ocular em português) claramente evoluiu dos elmos da Era Vendel e foi o tipo predominante de elmo escandinavo até próximo de 1000 A.D., quando os elmos cônicos com nasais tornaram-se populares.

Para ser justo, o elmo de Gjermundbu é o único elmo do tipo “spectacle helmet” da Era Viking cuja construção é completamente conhecida. Vamos dar uma olhada nisso!

O esquema do elmo. Feito por Tomáš Vlasatý e Tomáš Cajthaml.

Meu colega Tomáš Cajthaml fez um esquema muito legal do elmo, de acordo com minhas instruções. O esquema é baseado na ilustração de Grieg, em fotos salvas no catálogo Unimus e em observações feitas pelo pesquisador Vegard Vike.

A cúpula do elmo é formada por quatro placas triangulares (azul escuro). Sob a abertura entre cada duas placas, há uma tira estreita que é rebitada à outra tira ligeiramente curvada situada acima dessa abertura entre cada duas placas (amarelo). Na direção nuca-testa, a tira é formada por uma única peça, que é estendida no meio (no topo do elmo) e forma a base para o espeto (azul claro). Existem duas tiras planas na direção lateral (verde). As placas triangulares são rebitadas em cada canto da tira nuca-testa. Uma tira larga, com a linha perfilada visível, é rebitada à borda da cúpula (vermelho; não se sabe como as extremidades desta parte de metal conectavam-se). Dois anéis estavam conectados na borda dessa tira larga, prováveis restos de uma coifa em malha de aço. Na parte dianteira, a máscara ocular é rebitada na tira larga.

© 2016 Kulturhistorisk museum, UiO.

Uma vez que todas as dimensões conhecidas foram exibidas no esquema, deixe-me acrescentar alguns fatos suplementares. Em primeiro lugar, as quatro tiras ligeiramente curvas são demonstradas de maneira um pouco diferente no esquema – as originais são mais curvas na parte central e se afilam perto das extremidades. Em segundo lugar, embora o espeto seja uma característica importante, estudos nos mostram que sua presença é mais uma questão de uso estético do que de uso prático. Sobre os anéis da possível coifa de malha, o espaçamento entre eles é de aproximadamente 2 cm. Também são muito grossos, ao contrário dos anéis da cota de malha. Provavelmente foram fechados apenas encostando as pontas (butted mail), uma vez que nenhum vestígio de rebite foi encontrado. Não se pode afirmar se eles de fato representam uma coifa, porém, caso tal afirmação seja positiva, o que parece é que a coifa estava pendurada em anéis ou em um fio que atravessava estes anéis (ver meu artigo sobre Dispositivos de Suspensão de Coifas Medievais [em tcheco]).

Falando sobre a máscara, os raios-x revelaram pelo menos 40 linhas que formam cílios, da mesma forma que a máscara do elmo de Lokrume (veja o artigo O Elmo de Lokrume [em inglês]). Apesar das tendências modernas, não foram encontrados vestígios de incrustações metálicas nem gotículas de metal derretido. Existe uma diferença significativa entre a espessura das placas e tiras e a espessura da máscara, mesmo esta demonstrando uma espessura irregular. Inicialmente, a superfície do elmo poderia ser polida, de acordo com Vegard Vike.

Eu acredito que estas notas podem ajudar as novas gerações mais acuradas de recriacionistas. Sem contar anéis, o elmo pode ser formado a partir de 14 peças e pelo menos 33 rebites. Tal construção é um pouco surpreendente e não tão sólida. Em minha opinião, este fato pode levantar a discussão entre recriacionistas sobre o elmo de Gjermundbu representar um elmo de guerra ou um elmo cerimonial/simbólico. Eu, particularmente, penso que não há necessidade de ver essas duas funções como funções separadas. Sou muito grato aos meus amigos Vegard Vike, ao jovem artista e recriacionista Tomáš Cajthaml e ao Samuel Collin-Latour. Espero que vocês gostem deste artigo. Em caso de qualquer pergunta ou observação, por favor contacte-me ou deixe um comentário. Se vocês quiserem saber mais e apoiar meu trabalho, por favor, financie meu projeto no Patreon.


Vestanspjǫr agradece ao amigo Tomáš Vlasatý pela oportunidade de trazermos este trabalho à língua portuguesa. A bibliografia utilizada pelo autor pode ser consultada no artigo original, no link abaixo.

The helmet from Gjermundbu

On March 30 1943, Universitetets Oldsaksamling in Oslo gained the information that a farmer named Lars Gjermundbo found and dug into a huge mound on his land near the farm of Gjermundbu, Buskerud county, southern Norway. The place was examined by archaeologists (Marstrander and Blindheim) the next month and the result was really fascinating.

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The plan of the mound. Taken from Grieg 1947: Pl. I.

The mound was 25 meters long, 8 meters broad in the widest place and 1.8 meters high in the middle part. The most of the mound was formed by stony soil; however, the interior of the middle part was paved with large stones. Some stones were found even on the surface of the mound. In the middle part, about one meter below the surface and under the stone layer, the first grave was discovered, so called Grav I. 8 meters from Grav I, in the western part of the mound, the second grave was found, Grav II. Both graves represent cremation burials from the 2nd half of the 10th century and are catalogized under the mark C27317. Both graves were documented by Sigurd Grieg in Gjermundbufunnet : en høvdingegrav fra 900-årene fra Ringerike in 1947.

Grav I consists of dozens of objects connected to personal ownership and various activities, including fighting, archery, horse riding, playing games and cooking. Among others, the most interesting are unique objects, like the chain-mail and the helmet, which became very famous and are mentioned or depicted in every relevant publication.

Předpokládaná rekonstrukce bojovníka uloženého v Gjermundbu, 10. století. Podle

Possible reconstruction of the gear that was found in Grav I, Gjermundbu. Taken from Hjardar – Vike 2011: 155. The shape of the aventail is the weak point of the reconstruction.

© 2016 Kulturhistorisk museum, UiO

The helmet is often described as the only complete helmet known from the Viking Age. Unfortunately, it is not true, for at least two reasons. Firstly, the helmet is not by any means complete – it shows heavy damage and consists of only 17 fragments in the current state, which means one-fourth or one-third of the helmet. To be honest, fragments of the helmet are glued onto a plaster matrix (some of them in the wrong position) that has the rough form of the original helmet. Careless members of academia present this version as a reconstruction in the museum and in books, and this trend is then copied by reenactors and the general public. I have to agree with Elisabeth Munksgaard (Munksgaard 1984: 87), who wrote: “The Gjermundbu helmet is neither well preserved nor restored.

The current state of the helmet. Picture taken by Vegard Vike.

Secondly, there are at least 5 other published fragments of helmets spread across Scandinavia and areas with strong Scandinavian influence (see the article Scandinavian helmets of the 10th century). I am aware of several unpublished depictions and finds, whose reliability can not be proven. Especially, helmet fragments found in Tjele, Denmark, are very close to Gjermundbu helmet, since they consist of a mask and eight narrow metal bands 1 cm wide (see the article The helmet from Tjele). Based on the Gjermundbu helmet, Tjele helmet fragments and Kyiv mask (the shape of the original form of Lokrume fragment is unknown), we can clearly say that spectacle helmet type with decorated mask evolved from Vendel Period helmets and was the most dominant type of Scandinavian helmet until 1000 AD, when conical helmets with nasals became popular.

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An old reconstruction of the helmet, made by Erling Færgestad. Taken from Grieg 1947: Pl. VI.

To be fair, the helmet from Gjermundbu is the only spectacle type helmet of the Viking Age, whose construction is completely known. Let’s have a look at it!

gjermundbu

The scheme of the helmet. Made by Tomáš Vlasatý and Tomáš Cajthaml.

My mate Tomáš Cajthaml made a very nice scheme of the helmet, according to my instructions. The scheme is based on Grieg´s illustration, photos saved in the Unimus catalogue and observations made by researcher Vegard Vike.

The dome of the helmet is formed by four triangular-shaped plates (dark blue). Under the gap between each two plates, there is a narrow flat band, which is riveted to a somewhat curved band located above the gap between each two plates (yellow). In the nape-forehead direction, the flat band is formed by a single piece, that is extended in the middle (on the top of the helmet) and forms the base for the spike (light bluethe method of attaching the spike is not known to me). There are two flat bands in the lateral direction (green). Triangular-shaped plates are riveted to each corner of the extended part of the nape-forehead band. A broad band, with visible profiled line, is riveted to the rim of the dome (red; it is not known how the ends of this piece of metal connected to each other). Two rings were connected to the very rim of the broad band, probably remnants of the aventail. In the front, the decorated mask is riveted onto the broad band.

© 2016 Kulturhistorisk museum, UiO

Since all known dimensions are shown in the scheme, let me add some supplementary facts. Firstly, four somewhat curved bands are shown a bit differently in the scheme – they are more curved in the middle part and tapering near ends. Secondly, the spike is a very important feature and rather a matter of aesthetic than practical usage. Regarding the aventail, rings have the spacing of at least 2 cm. On contrary to chain-mail, rings from the helmet are very thick and probably butted, since no trace of rivets were found. It can not be said whether they represent the aventail, and if so, what it looked like and whether the aventail was hanging on rings or on a wire that was drawn through the rings (see my article about hanging devices of early medieval aventails). Talking about the mask, X-ray showed at least 40 lines, which form eyelashes, similarly to Lokrume helmet mask (see the article The helmet from Lokrume). In spite of modern tendencies, neither traces of metal inlay nor droplets of melted metal were found. The mask shows a two-part construction, overlaped and forge-welded at each temple and in the nose area (according to the X-ray picture taken by Vegard Vike). There is a significant difference between the thickness of plates and bands and the mask; even the mask shows uneven thickness. Initially, the surface of the helmet could be polished, according to Vegard Vike.

I believe these notes will help to the new generation of more accurate reenactors. Not counting rings, the helmet could be formed from 14 pieces and at least 33 rivets. Such a construction is a bit surprising and seems not so solid. In my opinion, this fact will lead to the discussion of reenactors whether the helmet represents a war helmet or rather a ceremonial / symbolical helmet. I personally think there is no need to see those two functions as separated.

I am very indebted to my friends Vegard Vike, who answered all my annoying question, young artist and reenactor Tomáš Cajthaml and Samuel Collin-Latour. I hope you liked reading this article. If you have any question or remark, please contact me or leave a comment below. If you want to learn more and support my work, please, fund my project on Patreon.


Bibliography

GRIEG, Sigurd (1947). Gjermundbufunnet : en høvdingegrav fra 900-årene fra Ringerike, Oslo.

HJARDAR, Kim – VIKE, Vegard (2011). Vikinger i krig, Oslo.

MUNKSGAARD, Elisabeth (1984). A Viking Age smith, his tools and his stock-in-trade. In: Offa 41, Neumünster, 85–89.

Norské saxy a bojové nože

Nůž z Osebergu.

Po článcích o bojových nožích z Haithabu, Švédska a Ruska mám tu čest představit přehled norských dlouhých nožů doby vikinské. Každý exemplář je opatřen krátkým popisem a pokud možno obrázkem. Kromě nožů jsou rozebrány také pochvy.

Článek je možné prohlédnout či stáhnout zde:

English summary

This article is a short summary of what we know about long knives in the Viking Age Norway. Two main sources were used – Petersen’s Vikingetidens Redskaper and UNIMUS catalogue. The result is only a representative number; the article is not complete.

In Norway, long knives were used until the 10th century. From 16 more or less preserved blades, 2 knives belong to the Merovingian type (ca. 100 years old by that time) and were deposited in 9th century graves. In the 9th century, Merovingian type was replaced with lighter, narrower and shorter knives. The typical knife used in Viking Age Norway had a straight blade with relatively uniform features:

  • 20–50 cm in length (ca. 10 cm long handle), 2–3 cm in width

  • in most cases, both blade and back are evenly straight; the blade tapers near the point

  • the wooden handle, sometimes with a bronze ferrule

Sheaths covered both blades and handles and were decorated sometimes. Sheaths show that Anglo-Saxon seaxes and Swedish scabbard knives were rarely used in Norway.

In 14 cases, knives were found in graves/mounds, eight times with a sword, seven times with an axehead, six times with a spearhead, sometimes with other tools. Graves belonged to women in at least two cases.

The function is difficult to guess. Merovingian type were probably deposited from symbolical reasons. Light long knives could serve as kitchen knives, hunting knives and weapons in case of need.

Typology of Fire Strikers From the Viking Age Norway

C3463, which belongs to what I call Type 1.

I would like to present my typology of fire strikers used in Viking Age Norway, more particulary 700-1000 AD. This typology is based on Jan Petersen’s works and it is not complete. I am sure there are many other finds that are not included. Please, let me know if you find what I missed. Thank you.

The typology can be downloaded or seen via this button:

Dvůr Hákona Starého Hákonarsona

Tímto článkem bych chtěl prezentovat pozoruhodný článek své kamarádky Markéty Ivánkové, který se zabývá strukturou norského dvora za vlády Hákona Hákonarsona (1217–1263). Práce, která tématicky nesouvisí s dobou vikinskou, musí nutně zaujmout každého zájemce o skandinávský středověk. Autorka svým poutavým jazykem a zejména svými znalostmi otvírá kapitolu, která byla českému publiku dosud uzavřená.

Markéta Ivánková vystudovala skandinavistiku a germanistiku na FF UK. V současné době je doktorandkou tamtéž na Ústavu germánských studií a specializuje se na recepci rytířské epiky ve Skandinávii. Kromě toho se zajímá o runové památky severského středověku. Spolupracovala na překladu povídek Gyrðira Elíassona Mezi stromy (z islandštiny) a překládá i z moderní norštiny a staroseverštiny. V současné době se podílí na revidovaném vydání Staroislandských ság.

Práci si můžete prohlédnout či stáhnout prostřednictvím tohoto odkazu:

Amulet kladiva z Flekstadu

Převzato ze stránek Nord-Trøndelag fylkeskommune.

Norský detektorář Magne Øksnes se během letošních Velikonoc vydal na pozvání Nilse Flekstada na farmu Flekstad, která leží ve farnosti Kvam v kraji Nord-Trøndelag. A během následujícího hledání objevil stříbrný amulet Þórova kladiva.

Celkově jde o 14. amulet kladiva, který byl nalezen v Norsku, přičemž jenom polovina z nich je vyrobena ze stříbra. Jedinečnost nálezu názorně demonstruje prohlášení archeologa Larse Forsetha, který se kladivem zabýval a který na jeho adresu prohlásil: „To je poprvé, co dokumentuji nález Þórova kladiva.

Amulet je cca 34 mm dlouhý, cca 24 mm široký a váží 5,6 gramů. Jak již bylo zmíněno, je vyroben ze stříbra. Na přední straně můžeme nalézt kroužkovou ražbu. Má jít o jediný nález kladiva ze Nord-Trøndelagu, což není úplná pravda, protože ze stejného kraje pocházejí také kladiva z Verdalu, která zároveň tvoří nejbližší paralely kladiva z Flekstadu. Co se týče datace, Lars Forseth datuje amulet do období let 800–950. Kladiva z Flekstadu a Verdalu lze typologicky přiřadit ke Staeckerovu typu 2.1.1. (viz typologie). Tento typ označuje kladiva, která jsou vyrobena ze stříbra, jsou zdobena raženou výzdobou a nacházejí se v depotech s tpq datací od poloviny 10. do začátku 11. století (Staecker 1999: 229).

Kladivo z Verdalu. Převzato z fotoportálu Unimus.

Amulet z Flekstadu rozšiřuje soubor norských kladiv a v budoucnu může být použit ke komparaci s dalšími případnými kusy. Svým vzhledem, který snoubí jednoduchost s elegancí, podává svědectví o dovednostech šperkařů v této oblasti. Amulet rovněž může vrhnout nové světlo na dvě kladívka z Verdalu.

Použitá literatura:
STAECKER, Jörn. Rex regum et dominus dominorum. Die wikingerzeitlichen Kreuz- und Kruzifixanhänger als Ausdruck der Mission in Altdänemark und Schweden, Stockholm 1999.

Stránky informující o nálezu:
http://www.ntfk.no/Nyheter/Sider/Sjeldent-vikingfunn-i-Steinkjer.aspx

http://www.t-a.no/nyheter/article10827447.ece

http://thornews.com/2015/04/08/rare-thors-hammer-found-in-central-norway/

http://nmf.nu/museum/funn/alle-gjenstander/torshammer-2/

http://ulfdalir.ru/news/934

Nález ze Skaunu

Meč. Foto: Åge Hojem, NTNU Vitenskapsmuseet.

Tímto článkem bych Vás chtěl seznámit s nálezem ze Skaunu, který se nachází v norském Sør-Trøndelagu. Dne 14. srpna 2014 se 34letý detektorář Magnus Meistad, který je členem Detektorářského klubu z Trondheimu (Trondheim Metallsøkerklubb), vydal do vsi jménem Buvika, ve které v mládí vyrůstal. Vytipoval si lokalitu na pozemcích farmáře Arnta Olstada, kde chtěl kolem nově registrované mohyly hledat mince. Na kopci Mannsfjellet, asi sto padesát metrů od svého dávného domova, objevil podivuhodný nález, který zakopal a zalarmoval místní archeology a příslušníky z Vědeckého muzea (Vitenskapsmuseet). Podle dostupných informací se nález skládá z meče, sekery, puklice štítu a hrotu šípu a byl uložen v plochém hrobu v hloubce okolo 30 cm. Žádný z dostupných zdrojů neinformuje o tom, že by byly nalezeny také kosti. K první medializaci nálezu došlo na přelomu září a října, podruhé se v médiích objevil na začátku února.

Podle zveřejněných informací je meč dlouhý kolem 90 cm s čepelí dlouhou asi 75 cm. Podle dostupných fotografií odhaduji, že se jedná o starší variantu typu X. Meč je pozoruhodný hned ze dvou důvodů. Za prvé je tak dobře zachován, že se na jeho povrchu zachovaly fragmenty pochvy ze dřeva a textilu. Za druhé rentgen prokázal, že se na čepeli nachází nápis +VLFBERH+T, a jedná se proto o kontinentální meč vysoké kvality, nebo jeho věrnou napodobeninu. Meč byl předběžně datován k roku 900.

Obsah puklice. Foto: Åge Hojem, NTNU Vitenskapsmuseet.

Značná pozornost se věnuje puklici, respektive jejímu obsahu. Uvnitř se totiž nacházel kožený váček s arabskými mincemi, devíti achátovými kuličkami (zřejmě také jednou kostěnou) a závažími. Puklice je mírně deformovaná nárazem meče nebo sekery.

Sekera in situ. Foto: Magnus Meistad.

Vzhledem k mediálnímu zájmu o meč a puklici nemůžeme říci nic konkrétního o sekeře ani hrotech šípů. Podle fotky sekery se nicméně zdá, že jde o typ F nebo I (oba se datují mezi roky 900–1000).

Jednotlivé zdroje datují hrob do rozmezí let 900–950 a naznačují, že vlastníkem předmětů mohl být zcestovalý muž.


Zdroje, fotografie a videa:

http://www.nrk.no/trondelag/her-graves-jernaldersverdet-frem-1.11963534

http://www.nrk.no/trondelag/hobbyarkeolog-fant-jernaldersverd-1.11960156

http://www.nrk.no/trondelag/arkeologene-har-funnet-ut-mer-om-eieren-av-dette-sverdet-1.12202269

http://norark.no/undersokelse/etterundersokelse-av-metallsokerfunn-grav-med-vapen-fra-vikingtid-pa-olstad-i-skaun

http://skaunnytt.no/wp/magnus-fant-vikingsverd/

http://www.avisa-st.no/distriktet/skaun/article10191525.ece

http://www.avisa-st.no/nyheter/article10188056.ece

http://www.avisa-st.no/nyheter/article10648686.ece

http://www.avisa-st.no/nyheter/article10227088.ece

http://www.adressa.no/nyheter/article10183600.ece

http://www.adressa.no/nyheter/article10192267.ece

http://nmf.nu/museum/funn/alle-gjenstander/ulfberth-sverd/

http://thornews.com/2015/02/14/found-islamic-coins-hidden-inside-viking-age-shield-boss/