Drinking Vessels of Viking Norway


Thanks to Michael Caralps Robinson,
whose persistence has no limits.

 

Introduction

Dear reader,
rather than a complete list of Norwegian drinking vessels of Viking Age, this short article is a summary of types of small personal drinking vessels and the sources we can use for learning more. Before making any step further, I have to stress that we can divide between everyday drinking occassions and highly developed drinking culture of the Viking Age (for example Andersen – Pajung 2014Callmer – Rosengren 1997Rundkvist 2011), that included strict rules about seating plan, the amount of consumed beverage and ceremonies. We have a massive textual evidence for drinking, plus a huge corpus of finds has been preserved. At this place, I will not discuss barrels, buckets, tubes, vats, bowl-shaped ladles, sieves, metal and steatite bowls, jugs, cauldrons, bottles etc, as some of them were already described in a separate article called The Period Transport of Liquids. My primary goal is provide sources for the most popular vessels used by reenactors; the overview is dedicated to anybody who wishes to have accurate personal tableware for both everyday life and feasts – cups, horns and beakers – bearing in mind that these are only a tiny fraction of the living reality that is gone for 1000 years.


Types of drinking vessels

In Early Medieval period, elite circle wanted to be presented as owners of luxurious items made of metal or glass, including the cups. Polish chronicle of Gallus Anonymus refers about golden and silver tableware, a mention that is repeated several times and it is explicitly said that during splendid feasts, there was no wooden tableware (Gallus Anonymus, Deeds of the Princes of the Poles I:6). The same picture is portrayed by Anglo-Saxon iconography, for example manuscript MS Cotton Tiberius C VI (1042-1079). Even though luxurious cups were concentrated in hands of elites, we can understand mentions and pictures as period propaganda. As is obvious from many Early Medieval graves, wooden tableware was also frequently associated with elites.

Feast scene, manuscript MS Cotton Tiberius C VI, 5v, c. 1050.

Lathed cups without handles
Simple wooden cups were probably the most common examples that were used in the Viking Age (Petersen 1951: 402). Due to their organic composition, the majority decayed without any traces. Still, we have some preserved pieces coming from well-known mounds of Oseberg and Gokstad. In Oseberg mound, at least 8 cups or their fragments were found (Grieg 1928: 148-150, 194-196, Fig. 91, 127, 128, 130), but only four are complete. The first one – C55000:167 – is 64 mm high and the maximal diameter is 127 mm (112 mm across the mouth). The second one (C55000:97) is lathed of a piece of hard wood and the diameter is circa 100 mm (80 mm across the mouth); it is also reinforced with an iron band, that goes from inside to outside and is probably a patch. Last two – C55000:84 and C55000:91 – are 40 and 50 mm high and have mouth diameter of 60-70 and 80 mm. These last two were filled with corn in the grave. According to Nicolaysen (1882: 45), there were 4 round cups made of foliferous tree found in Gokstad – besides the fact cups are very shrunk and varying in size, he does not mention any further detail nor picture. The biggest comparable material was found in Haithabu, counting 14 cups that vary between 48-107 mm in height and 76-100 mm in diameter (Westphal 2007: 35, Taf. 10).

The first complete cup from Oseberg mound. Source: Grieg 1928: Fig. 91, UNIMUS C55000:167.

The second complete cup from Oseberg mound. Source: Grieg 1928: Fig. 130, UNIMUS C55000:97.

The third complete cup from Oseberg mound. Source: Grieg 1928: Fig. 127, UNIMUS C55000:84.

The fourth complete cup from Oseberg mound. Source: Grieg 1928: Fig. 128, UNIMUS C55000:91.

Cups from Haithabu. Source: Westphal 2007: 35, Taf. 10.

Cups with handles
In Norwegian graves of Voll and Oseberg, 6 wooden scoops were found (Grieg 1928: 142–146). However, there are also some smaller kuksa-like cups with more decent handles in Oseberg and Gokstad, which could be interpreted as cups – especially because of presence of flat bottom and absence of a hook at the end of the handle. In Gokstad, two examples of the same design were found – C10413 (Nicolaysen 1882: 45, Pl. IX:7), while there was only one fragmentary piece in Oseberg (Grieg 1928: 149-150; Petersen 1951: 405-406). According to Petersen (1951: 406), the cup from Gokstad is circa 16 cm long. There are many similar examples in Haithabu, showing we are dealing with a widespread group of items (Westphal 2007: 34-36, Taf. 3-11).

An illustration of cups from Gokstad. Source: Nicolaysen 1882: Pl. IX:7.

Cups with handles from Haithabu. Source: Westphal 2007: 35, Taf. 3, 4, 7, 10, 11.

Ceramic cups
After the Migration Period, pottery finds are on decline in Norway (Petersen 1951: 380); Petersen mapped only 48 pottery finds from Late Iron Age. Some scholars even claim that Norway did not have their own production of ceramic in the period (Lüdtke  – Schietzel 2001: 25) and it was replaced by steatite and iron on a massive scale (Petersen 1951: 380). The biggest ceramic material in Norway was found in the trading center of Kaupang (Hougen 1993). Complete ceramic cups from Viking Age Norway are rather rare and they are almost always undecorated (Hougen 1993: 9).


A selection of ceramic cups. Source: Petersen 1951: 383.

Steatite cups
According to Petersen (1951: 354-356), there are at least 12 steatite vessels with less than 15 cm and more than 5-6 cm in diameter and are without traces of usual iron fitting for hanging. Smaller vessels can be understood as miniatures, crucibles or other tools. It is also possible that these 12 vessels are parts of forging equipment or are storage vessels, but we cannot exclude the possibility they are drinking cups.


Steatite vessel from Gjestad (C17783). Source: Petersen 1951: 355.

Steatite vessel from “Hafsol” (B4622). Source: UNIMUS B4622.


Steatite vessel from an unknown site (B8941). Source: UNIMUS B8941.

Drinking horns
Drinking cow and aurochs horns are probably the most symbolical and the best known vessels of the Viking Age. They also occur in written sources during feasts and ceremonies and are depicted in iconography. It is beyond any doubt that such a vessel had a strict decorum of how, when and by whom it could be used. For example, some feasts could have the rule of drekka tvimenning (a pair of drinkers share a common horn), while the passing and drinking out of the ruler’s horn could be understood as an oath-swearing process, both situations indicate that horns were used at feasts in order to maintain important social bonds. Horns are “thought to have been an important piece of household equipment in societies where feasting and formal entertainment played a major role [(…). In poems, horns are used for drinking mead and wine, while they are used for beer in sagas as well.] A primary function of these prestige items was to enable their owners to demonstrate status by providing unlimited hospitality, an echo of the hospitality obligations mandated by the laws” (Heen-Pettersen 2014).

According to Petersen (1951: 396-400), 24 horns are known in Norway (I was forced to correct Mr. Petersen’s information about the horns from Voll, which is not correct). 5 horns were simple and undecorated, 4 horns were decorated with a mouth fitting, 14 horn were decorated with a terminal and just 2 horns were decorated with both mouth fittings and terminals. The terminals have a form of beast head (8 ex.), ball (4 ex.), ring for hanging (1 ex.) and cylinder (1 ex.). At least one horn (T1184) had two small copper alloy eyelets for hanging mounted on the body of the horn, while some horns are found with suspension chains. Heen-Pettersen (2014) mentions 7 new finds of horns with metal mounts, and she interprets all the decorated horns as Insular imports.

Metal fittings mounted on a modern horn, Gjønnes (C20163). Source: UNIMUS C20163.


Metal fittings of a drinking horn, Venjum (B7731). Source: UNIMUS B7731.

Drinking horn from Voll (T1184). Source: UNIMUS T1184.

Glass beakers
The last big group of vessels are glass beakers, probably the most prestigious and luxurious vessels we can meet in Viking Age Norway. Petersen (1951: 400-402) mentions only 11 glass vessels finds from Late Iron Age, which is not surprising, as they were probably imported from the Continent or Britain; we have only limited traces of local glassworking in Norway (Gaut 2011: 174-175). Some glass vessels were used for a very long time : the beaker from Borre mound (ca. 900) comes from 7th or 8th century (Petersen 1951: 401). Two almost complete beakers were found for example in the grave from Hopperstad (B4511). A lot of variously coloured glass were found in Kaupang, that can be categorized as funnel beakers, reticella-decorated beakers and small jars (Gaut 2007; Gaut 2011).


A reconstruction of the beaker from Borre, C1801. Source: Myhre – Gansum 2003: 20.

Two glass beakers from Hopperstad, B4511. Source: UNIMUS B4511.

Reconstructed beakers found in Kaupang. Source: Gaut 2011: Fig. 9.13, 9.14, 9.16, 9.20, 9.21.

Hypothetic cup types
To make the list complete, we have to mention various metal and organic materials that could be used for cups. While there are number of copper alloy vessels in Norway (Petersen 1951: 384-396), they were used as cauldrons, scoops, hanging and table bowls and handwashing basins. As far as I know, there is no Norwegian copper alloy vessel that could be interpreted as cup. On the other hand, Continental or Insular silver cups could be rarely used in Norway in the same way they were used in Denmark (Wamers 1985: Taf. 47:4; Wamers 2005: Kat. 43-44).

As was told above, organic cups were definitely the most common, but they occur rarely because of decomposition. They could include some extraordinary materials like birch bark, antler or fungus. In the grave from Kyrkhus, four double-layered birch bark fragments were found (S2584n). They are interpreted as remnants of a cup or a bowl. Based on the size of the preserved fragments – 34×34 mm, 37×33 mm, 35×31 mm and 52×44 mm – both options are possible. We cannot exclude a box as a possible function. Birch bark had wide scale of application, so the presence of birch bark cups would not be surprising. In the same grave, there are fragments of what was interpreted as antler or bone cup; unfortunately we do not know any closer detail. Cups made of polypore could be also possible, as we know polypore bowl from Voll (T1185).

Human superficialities by the feet of Devil, manuscript MS Cotton Tiberius C VI, 10v, c. 1050.


Final remarks

In this short overview, I tried to mention the most important find types and literature that describes them. At the end of it, I would like to give some recommendations. As you can notice, ceramic cups were somethig special in Norway, and I hope this article will help to get rid of their dominance in recent reenactment. Moreover, all the wooden, steatite, horn and glass pieces are aesthetic to an extent – some are richly decorated, others have just a simple decorating line in the center or at the mouth level. The period tableware was not as crude as we usually see at the events. Cups were owned by civilized people of advanced culture; a culture that should be reconstructed as well. Usage of cups was nuanced, and it is our goal to represent it in a most colourful and accurate way.

 


Bibliography

Gallus Anonymus: Deeds of the Princes of the Poles = Gallus Anonymus: Kronika a činy polských knížat a vládců. Traslated: Josef Förster, Praha 2009.

Andersen, Kasper H. – Pajung, Stefan (2014) (eds.). Drikkekultur i middelalderen, Århus.

Callmer, Johan – Rosengren, Erik (1997) (eds). ”…gick Grendel att söka det höga huset…” Arkeologiska källor till aristokratiska miljöer i Skandinavien under yngre järnålder. Rapport från ett seminarium i Falkenberg 16–17 november 1995, Halmstad.

Gaut, Bjarne (2007). Vessel Glass from Kaupang: A Contextual and Social Analysis. In: Norwegian Archaeological Review 40:1, 26-41.

Gaut, Bjarne (2011). Vessel Glass and Evidence of Glasswoking. In: Skre, Dagfinn (ed.). Things from the Town. Artefacts and Inhabitants in Viking-age Kaupang. Kaupang Excavation Project Publication series, vol. 3., Århus, 169-261.

Grieg, Sigurd (1928). Osebergfunnet II : Kongsgaarden, Oslo.

Heen-Pettersen, A. M. (2014). Insular artefacts from Viking-Age burials from mid-Norway. A review of contact between Trøndelag and Britain and Ireland, Internet Archaeology 38.
Available at: http://intarch.ac.uk/journal/issue38/heenpettersen_index.html

Hougen , Ellen-Karine (1993). Kaupangfunnene bind IIIB. Bosetningsområdets keramikk, Oslo.

Lüdtke, Hartwig – Schietzel, Kurt (2001) (eds.). Handbuch zur mittelalterlichen Keramik in Nordeuropa (Vol. 1-3), Neumünster.

Rundkvist, Martin (2011). Mead-halls of the Eastern Geats: Elite Settlements and Political Geography AD 375-1000 in Ösergötland, Sweden, Stockholm.

Myhre, Bjørn – Gansum, Terje (2003). Skipshaugen 900 e. Kr. : Borrefunnet 1852-2002, Borre.

Nicolaysen, Nicolay (1882). Langskibet fra Gokstad ved Sandefjord = The Viking-ship discovered at Gokstad in Norway, Kristiania.

Petersen, Jan (1951). Vikingetidens redskaper, Oslo.

Wamers, Egon (1985). Insularer Metallschmuck in wikingerzeitlichen Gräbern Nordeuropa, Neumünster.

Wamers, Egon (2005). Die Macht des Silbers. Karolingische Schätze im Norden, Regensburg.

Gokstad belt recreations

gokstad1


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.

gokstad3

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

gokstad3

Reconstruction of the bridle from Gokstad.

 

gokstad3

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! If you want to learn more and support my work, please, fund my project on Patreon or Paypal.


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 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 or Paypal.

Hrob Langeid 8

názorný příklad elitního norského hrobu ze začátku 11. století

Ale když později přední muži poznali, jak [je moc Óláfa Haraldssona] zbavuje svobody, odešli mnozí ze země, většinou ke králi Knútovi, a každý z nich předstíral jiný účel své cesty. Všichni však, kdo přišli ke Knútovi a chtěli vstoupit do jeho služeb, dostali plné ruce zlata. Bylo u něho také vidět mnohem větší nádheru než jinde (…).“ (Snorri Sturluson: Sága o Óláfu Svatém 130)

langeid

Lokalita Langeid zakreslená na mapě. Mapa vytvořena pomocí Google Earth.

Muzeum kulturní historie (Kulturhistorisk museum), které sídlí v Oslu, provedlo v létě roku 2011 výzkum na lokalitě Langeid. Tento výzkum odhalil přes 20 hrobů, mezi nimiž vynikal zejména hrob č. 8. „Dokonce i před samotnými vykopávkami jsem si uvědomila, že tento hrob představuje něco speciálního, protože byl větší a vypadal jinak, než dalších 20 hrobů z lokality,“ řekla o tomto hrobu archeoložka Camilla Cecilie Wenn, která vedla vykopávky. Hrob č. 8 byl plochým kostrovým hrobem, který byl hluboký asi 60 cm. Na dně ležely fragmenty rakve, respektive její obrysy spolu s fragmentem zkorodovaného kovu. Organický obsah rakve se nedochoval; obsah rakve tvořily pouze dva fragmenty stříbrných mincí, z nichž jedna – anglosaská – byla vyražena za vlády Æthelreda II. (978–1016), zatímco druhá, soudě podle ražby, pocházela ze Skandinávie. V rozích pohřební komory byly nalezeny sloupové jámy s pozůstatky dřeva. Předpokládá se, že na sloupech, které byly zřejmě vyřezávané, spočívala stříška – pohřební komora tak tvořila přístřešek. Podobné přístřešky jsou zachyceny i u dalších významných norských hrobů (viz Løken 1971). To by samo o sobě nebylo ještě tak překvapivé, ale poté bylo ohledáno okolí rakve …

Po obou stranách rakve byly uloženy dvě výjimečně zachovalé zbraně – meč a hlava široké sekery. Meč, který je přiřazován k Petersenovu typu Æ (poněkud nesprávně, protože spíše spadá do Androščukova typu Z2; viz Androščuk 2014: 84–86), je dlouhý 94 cm. Jílec je typově podobný meči z finské Suontaky. Záštita a hlavice jsou plátovány stříbrem, do něhož jsou provedeny rytiny (ve tvaru vírů, křížků, ruky svírající kříž a latinských písmen), které jsou vyplněné zlatem a ohraničené mosazným/bronzovým drátem. Rukojeť je natěsno omotána stříbrným drátem, který tvoří motiv rybí kosti. Dekorace svědčí o anglosaském původu. Na čepeli se zachovaly fragmenty dřeva a kůže, což znamená, že meč byl uložen v pochvě. Hlava sekery přináleží k vyvinutějšímu typu M, má délku čepele přes 25 cm, váhu 550 gramů a je pozoruhodná tím, že se v jejím oku zachoval cca 15 cm fragment topora potaženého měděným (Cu + Zn) plechem o tloušťce půl milimetru. Stejná topora byla nalezena v Temži a na Gotlandu a zjevně sloužila k co možná největšímu lesku. Obě zbraně lze datovat do 1. poloviny 11. století.

Fotografie meče z hrobu Langeid 8. Autor: Ellen C. Holthe, Muzeum kulturní historie (Kulturhistorisk museum).

O čem tento hrob vypovídá? Datace mincí, zbraní a pozůstatku dřeva nalezeného v jedné ze sloupových jam ukazuje na to, že hrob byl vybudován kolem roku 1030. Zbraně a mince svědčí o silných anglosaských kontaktech a předpokládá se, že pohřbený, který měl vysoké postavení, byl v armádě Knúta Velikého. Literární prameny, které se vztahují k 1. polovině 11. století, popisují elitní válečníky, kteří disponují obdobně nákladným válečným vybavením – například roku 1040 dal Godwin z Wessexu králi Harðaknútovi omluvný dar, který sestával z vyzdobené lodi včetně osmdesáti královsky vyzbrojených bojovníků, z nichž „každý měl také kroužkovou zbroj, částečně pozlacenou přilbu, meč s pozlaceným jílcem u pasu a dánskou sekeru zdobenou zlatem a stříbrem pověšenou na levém rameni“ (Florentius z Worcesteru : Kronika, informace k roku 1040; stejnou zprávu viz také v Vilém z Malmesbury : Činy anglických králů II, § 188).

Norsko se kolem roku 1030 nacházelo v nelehké politické situaci (viz např. Bagge 2002). Dánští králové Svein Vidlovous a jeho syn Knút Veliký vedli expanzi do Anglie, která dala Óláfu Haraldssonovi, přezdívanému Tlustý (později též Svatý), možnost roku 1015 ovládnout trůn a potvrdit svůj nárok vítězstvím v bitvě u Nesjí roku 1016. Knút Veliký se z Óláfa pokusil učinit svého vazala, a po odmítavých odpovědích začal s podplácením norské šlechty, což vyústilo v to, že Óláf byl roku 1028 vyhnán do Novgorodu a na jeho místo byl dosazen loajální Hákon Eiríksson z hlaðské dynastie. Když roku 1029 Hákon Eiríksson zemřel, Óláf pocítil šanci a navrátil se do Norska, ale nezískal dostatečnou oporu v místních elitách a padl v bitvě u Stiklestadu (29. 07. 1030), kde proti němu stáli prodánští šlechtici a statkáři. Óláf za své vlády dokázal připojit ke království i jižní části dnešního Norska, které do té doby náležely Dánsku, a jeho vláda představovala finální fázi christianizace (viz zde).

Schéma hlavy sekery nalezené v hrobu Langeid 8. Vytvořil Vegard Vike.

Jedna ze seker nalezených v Temži.

Předpoklad, že muž pohřbený v hrobu Langeid 8 byl věrným Knúta Velikého, je naprosto oprávněný. Dokonce lze usuzovat, že byl členem Knútova dvora či elitní jednotky Þingalið – ukazuje na to tzv. Táborový zákoník Knúta Velikého (Lex Castrensis, Lejrloven), který stanovuje, že družiníci krále museli pocházet z dobrých rodů a museli být zaopatřeni nádhernými zbraněmi:

„[Knút] chtěl mít osobnější vztahy s těmi, o nichž věděl, že mají právo nárokovat vysoký původ a že se radují z hojného bohatství, tak aby se ti, kteří pocházeli z lepších rodů, pokoušeli vyniknout ctí a nemuseli být na rozpacích z nedostatku válečného vybavení, ježto byli vychováni v bohatších domácnostech. A proto vydal a nechal svým poslem rozhlásit, že k milosrdnému králi s právem bližší spolupráce mohou přistoupit pouze ti, kteří krále pozdraví a okrášlí zástup bojovníků zářivou nádherou svých pozlacených seker a mečových jílců. (…) Celkové vojsko čítalo tři tisíce vybraných mužů a v jejich jazyce se mu dostalo jméno Þingalið.“ (Sven Aggesen : Táborový zákoník, § 1–2)

Ve Švédsku a Norsku stojí několik runových kamenů (např. Sm 76, Sö 14, U 668), které připomínají muže sloužící v Knútově družině Þingalið, která představovala jednu z největších skandinávských vojenských jednotek. My se zaměříme pouze na runový kámen z norského Galtelandu (N 184), který je důležitý tím, že stojí zhruba 50 km vzdušnou čarou od Langeidu. Nápis na kameni říká:

Arnstein vztyčil tento kámen na památku svého syna Bjóra, který zemřel v zástupu [lið –> Þingalið], když Knút napadl Anglii. Bůh je jeden.“ (runový nápis N 184)

Runový kámen z Galtelandu (N 184). Autor: Arild Hauge.

Hrob Langeid 8 tedy potvrzuje runový nápis v tom ohledu, že Knútova anglického tažení se mohli zúčastnit i Norové. Musíme zdůraznit také runovou formuli „Bůh je jeden“ (einn er Guð), kterou lze vztáhnout i k hrobu Langeid 8 a která je zároveň nejstarším literárním svědectvím o křesťanství v Norsku. Již jsme řekli, že období let 1015–1030 je poslední fází norské christianizace (ačkoli christianizační proces byl na severu Norska pomalejší), a hrob Langeid 8 ukazuje příznačnou syntézu obou náboženství. Tvorba pohřebního přístřešku, pod nějž jsou uloženy milodary, můžeme chápat jako typicky pohanskou metaforu na stavbu či hodovní síň (viz zde), zatímco inhumace v rakvi a také dekorace na meči svědčí spíše o křesťanských vlivech.

V závěru si můžeme shrnout, co představuje hrob Langeid 8. V hrobu Langeid 8 byl pohřben norský šlechtic, který byl loajální dánskému králi Knútovi a který se nejspíše zúčastnil jeho anglického tažení, během něhož obdržel obě nalezené zbraně. Zbraně representují nejkvalitnější dobovou produkci. Šlechtic musel zemřít někdy okolo roku 1030 (tedy v době, kdy již v Anglii neprobíhaly boje a se Knút soustředil na znovuzískání Norska), což může svádět k otázkám, jaký byl vztah zemřelého vůči Óláfu Haraldssonovi a zda se nezúčastnil bitvy na řece Helgeå roku 1026 nebo bitvy u Stiklestadu roku 1030. Při těchto dohadech bychom však šli daleko za hranici dostupných informací. Konstrukce hrobu a hrobová výbava svědčí o synkretických představách, což zapadá do obrazu, který je popsán v písemných pramenech.


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Použitá a doporučená literatura:
Florentius z Worcesteru : Kronika – Florence of Worcester. The chronicle of Florence of Worcester with the two continuations. Přel. T. Forester. London 1854.

Snorri Sturluson : Sága o Óláfu Svatém (Óláfs saga helga). Originál online. V češtině vyšlo: Sága o svatém Olavu. Přel. Ladislav Heger, Praha 1967.

Sven Aggesen : Táborový zákoník (Lex Castrensis) – Law of the Retainers and of the Court. In: The Works of Sven Aggesen, Twelfth-Century Danish Historian, Přel. a ed. E. Christiansen, London 1992. Online.

Vilém z Malmesbury : Činy anglických králů – Gesta regum Anglorum. Originál online, překlad online.

Androščuk, Fedir (2014). Viking Swords : Swords and Social aspects of Weaponry in Viking Age Societies, Stockholm.

Bagge, Sverre (2002). Eleventh Century Norway: The Formation of a Kingdom. In. P. Urbanczýk (ed.). The Neighbours of Poland in the 11th Century, Warszawa.

Løken, Trond (1971). Dødehus over vikingtids flatmarksgraver? Nicolay Arkeologisk Tidsskrift 9, 17–21.

Loftsgarden, Kjetil – Wenn, Camilla Cecilie (2012). Gravene ved Langeid – Foreløpige resultater fra en arkeologisk utgraving. Nicolay arkeologisk tidsskrift 117, 23–31. Online.

http://www.medievalists.net/2015/07/14/the-last-viking-and-his-magical-sword/

http://www.thehistoryblog.com/archives/37504

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2015/07/150714093658.htm

http://www.khm.uio.no/om/aktuelt/gjenstandskalender/oktober/bredoksen-fra-langeid.html