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Wire wrapped knife handles of 9th-12th century



This article is a continuation of the work of Wire wrapped sword grips of 9th-11th century that was published on this website in November 2020. The reason for creating this article is both informing the reenactor community and academic interest, which aims to:

  1. revise this type of objects.

  2. organize objects according to the country of origin, the materials used and the method of winding, which will simplify the search for parallels in the future.

  3. suggest the relationship of wrapped knives to wrapped swords and potentially other groups of objects.

In the very beginning, it must be said that a wire wrap is attributed a functional aspect – we often meet the idea that the wire prevented the handle from cracking or was used to repair it (Westphal 2006: 53-4). Analogies can also be found at other functional objects of the Early Medieval period, such as tanged arrows (eg Paulsen 1999: Abb. 14.8), tanged javelins (eg Atgāzis 1998: 7. att; Ravdina 1988: 110) or awls (eg Arents – Eisenschmidt 2010a: 170-1). In addition to wire, bands (eg grave III from Süderbraup-Thorsberg; Eisenschmidt 2004: Cat. No. 86.03), cast ferrules (Thunmark-Nylén 1998: Abb. 181.5) or leather straps (Lyngstrøm 1995: 82) were also used for this purpose.

In the past, wrapped knife handles have been the subject of only a few regionally oriented works. Probably the best level of publishing shows the set from historical Denmark (Arents – Eisenschmidt 2010a: 163; Eisenschmidt 2004: 650; Lyngstrøm 1995; Westphal 2006: 53-4; Westphalen 2002: 150-2), Birka (Arbman 1940: Taf. 177-9; Arbman 1943), Gotland (Thunmark-Nylén 2000; Thunmark-Nylén 2006: 245) and Poland (Chudziak 2010: 83; Liwoch 2018: 81; Weinkauf 2006: 86, 94-5); on the contrary, the situation in the Baltic countries, Norway, Russia, Belarus and Ukraine is quite the opposite. None of the works mentions more than 60 pieces, so the catalog presented below, which numbers 332 pieces, is currently the most extensive work available.

The main criterion of selection for the catalog was more than one turn of the wire around the handle, which eliminates knives with bands and cast ferrules. Despite this, we have included a wire wrap of the long knife from Demmin, which has the shape of a “scout scarf ring”. In the literature, knives with silver-inlayed handles are often included among the wrapped handles. Although these extremely interesting groups of objects are closely related, we do not include these knives unless they are combined with a classic wire wrap. For completeness we can name them – the knives from the chamber grave 5 from Haithabu (Arents – Eisenschmidt 2010a: 163; Arents – Eisenschmidt 2010b: Taf. 116.21), the knife from Lindholm Høje (AHM 129×1466; Grøn – Krag – Bennike 1994: 162), the knife from Cumwhitton (Paterson et al. 2014: 110, Fig. 93) and the knife from York (Ottaway 1989: 848, Cat. Fig. 17, 2812).

The knife from the grave 348, Timerevo (Nedošivina – Zozulja 2012: Рис. 9).


Wrapping is most often applied to wooden, less often to antler handles, into the prepared notches so that the handle is as smooth as possible (the only exception is the knife from Vivallen, the wrapping of which creates a plastic ornament, similarly to Żydowo sword handle). The thickness of the examined wires varies between 0.4 mm (Pogošča; Plavinski 2017: 103) and 1 mm (grave 45, Haithabu; Arents 1992a), the most common thickness being 0.5 mm (Hovet, Podhorce; Liwoch 2018: 81) and 0,6 mm (Imbare, Pskov 1; Eniosova 2015: 550).

Wrapping the knife handle. Production: Götz Breitenbücher, Götz Ironworks.

Strategies for decorating handles with wires varied and ranged from relatively simple wraps placed at blades with an average of 10-45 turns to complex compositions of up to ten wraps. In the case of many knives, we also find strange-looking wires which are placed in the perpendicular way to the wrapping (ie they are parallel to the knife line) and which in the following classification we call “connection” for simplicity. Their function is as follows:

  • Some wraps (eg grave 767 in Birka) are finished with twisted “tails”, which represent the ends of the wrappings (see picture above). Instead of sawing, smoothing and decent covering, these ends were deliberately driven into the prepared notches and holes in the handles. The fastening system can be clearly seen with knives from Pogošča, Pskov (1) and Slite.

  • In other cases, these wires represent a connection between two wraps. The manufacturer wanted to avoid shortening the material. This solution can be studied with knives from Uppsala, Pskov (1), Birka (709) and Menzlin.

  • In the most extravagant cases, wires are placed on the line of the back, sometimes also on the lower edge of the handle, across the entire handle and cover or are covered by the wrappings. The described method can be seen on knives from Brandstrup, Peel Castle and probably also Fyrkat (4). The available written description of the knife from Ciepłe (8) also correspond to this method. An approximate reproduction can be seen here.

The following sorting, which shows the number of wrappings within the handles and their position, is based on photographed or described specimens. It is very likely that other variants would be defined with new pieces in the catalogue. Of course, the wraps are damaged in many cases, which complicates their identification and can lead to their incorrect classification.

  • a – one wrapping

    • a1 – a short wrap located near the blade. One wrap, which is usually up to 1 cm in length, is by far the most common variant. In some cases, the wraps are slightly longer, but exceptionally over 1.5 cm.

    • a2 – a continuous wrap filling the entire handle. An infrequent variant, which is preserved on knives from the sites of Bikavėnai, Begunicy (even with alternating twisted and simpe wires), Podhorce, Mokryj IV and Sarkel. Interestingly, a replica of the Bikavėnai knife, made by Vykintas Matuzevičius, applies up to 19 meters of wire with a diameter of 0.6 mm (photo here).

  • b – two wrappings

    • b1 – two wraps without connection, located near the blade. A relatively common variant, which can be found on a number of Danish knives, on knives from Kiev (A14), Cumwhitton, Broe, Lille Guldkronen and Birka (632 and 731).

    • b2 – two wraps with a connection, located near the blade. This variant appears with knives from Birka (709), Menzlin, Pskov (1) and probably also Groß Raden. Here we can add that the length of the wire used to wrap the knife from Pskov was about 90 cm (Eniosova 2015: 550).

    • b3 – two divided wraps, located at opposite ends of the handle. A variant that can be found on the knife from Birka (1081).

  • c – three wrappings

    • c1 – three wraps without connection, located near the blade. Numerous variant, which can be found on knives from Gelting, Kaldus (166/01), Birka (594, 837, 886), Björkome, Hemse, Sigvars, Radzes and Tuna Alsike.

    • c2three divided wraps, two of which are situated near the blade without connection, the third on the opposite side of the handle. Can be found at knives from Birka (777) and Ludza.

    • c3three wraps with a connection, located nead the blade. Found only on the knife from Birka (767).

  • d – four wrappings

    • d1 – four wraps without connection, located near the blade. A relatively numerous variant, occurring at knives from Thumby Bienebek, Haithabu (Westphal 2006: Taf. 29.15-16) and Birka (762, 791, 838).

    • d2 – four wraps without connection, distributed regularly all over the handle. Found only on the knife from Birka (973).

    • d3 – four wraps with a connection, distributed regularly all over the handle. Can be found on the knife from Peel Castle.

  • e – five wrappings

    • e1 – five wraps without connection, distributed regularly all over the handle. A variant known from the knife from Fyrkat (22a).

    • e2 – five wraps with a connection, distributed regularly all over the handle. Variant used to decorate the knife from Fyrkat (4).

  • f – seven wrappings

    Seven wraps, regularly distributed all over the handle, are applied at knives from Timerevo (348), Birka (1130), knives from the Klaipeda Museum and probably also at knives from Genčai (72).

  • g – eight wrappings

    • g1eight wraps with a connection in the composition of 5 wraps near the blade, 3 at the opposite end. Found only on the knife from Slite.

    • g2eight wraps with a connection in the composition 3 wraps near the blade, 3 in the middle, 2 at the opposite end. A variant that we find on the knife from the Gamla Uppsala.

  • h – ten wrappings

    • h1ten wraps without connection, distributed regularly all over the handle. The Salaspils Laukskola knife (39) is equipped with this special variant.

    • h2ten wraps with a connection in the composition 5 wraps near the blade, 2 in the middle, 3 at the opposite end. This method can be found at knife from Brandstrup III.

Schematic positions of the wire wraps used at knife handles in 9th-12th century.
Author: Michal Havelka, baba_jaga_atelier. Bigger resolution here.

Now let’s look at the wires themselves, which are used in these wraps and their connections:

  • 1 – single rod, uncoiled wire
    Single rod wire is used for all variants of wraps (short wraps, continuous wraps, numerous wraps).

  • 2 – ring knitted in the style of a “scout scarf ring” of three bundles
    The ring of the long knife from Demmin is made of three strands in the style of a “scout scarf ring”.

  • 3 – multi-rod, twisted wire
    This modification is evident at knives from Gamla Uppsala, Haithabu and probably also Gorodok na Lovati. Torsos of the same may be seen on the knives from Birka (632) and Cumwhitton. From this it is clear that this wire variant is applied to longer wraps of variant a1 and numerous wrap variants  (represented here by b1, d1, g2).

  • 4 – alternation of surfaces with single-rod and double-rod wires
    This variant seems to appear in the case of the knife from Begunicy, and is therefore associated with continuous wraps a2.

  • 5 – two multirod, twisted wires in the “herringbone” pattern
    Is applied at knives from Mokryj IV, Peel Castle, Birka (594, 838, 944, 973, 1081, 1130, 1131) and Broe. This variant seems to have a strong connection to continuous wraps a2 and numerous wraps variants b1, b3, c1, d1, d2, d4, f, exceptionally a1.

  • 6 – alternation of single-rod and two double-rod wires in the “herringbone” pattern
    Like the previous variant, this has a connection to continuous wraps and numerous wrap variants.

Schematic look of wires used at knife handles in 9th-12th century.
Author: Michal Havelka, baba_jaga_atelier. Bigger resolution here.

A closer look at the application of wires shows two conclusions that are logical with respect to the production process. First, more complex wire modifications – especially multi-rod twisted wires – tend to lead to continuous or numerous wrap variants, which allow these demanding designs to stand out better. And secondly, the more wraps within the handle, the fewer turns within the wrap. This rule does not apply every time (for example, Fyrkat 22a is equipped with five wide wraps), but it seems to be quite widespread – the knife with one wrap from Birka grave 727 is equipped with 24 turns, while the knife with three wraps from Birka grave 767 has only 7-8 turns in each wrap (Arbman 1943: 253, 280). The manufacturer therefore had the option of choosing between one wider wrap or more wraps that were not so wide and noticeable.


Soft, non-ferrous metals usually became the material wound around the handles, which can be divided as follows:

  • monochrome

    • steel
      Wire from this material is registered at only one find, which comes from grave 155 in Luistari, Finland (Lehtosalo-Hilander 1982: 47).

    • copper alloy
      There are 119 pieces in the catalog, which are located mainly along the Baltic Sea and around Lake Ladoga. For the Baltic and Finno-Ugric tribes, it was the primary material, which is also numerous in the Slavic territories in present-day Germany and Gotland. In Haithabu and Wolin, copper alloys usually appear on knives that come from the settlement not not from graves.

    • silver
      With at least 171 pieces included in the catalog, silver is generally the most popular material for wrapping knife handles. Extraordinarily large concentrations are recorded in Sweden and Denmark, however, they are also known in the Old Russian environment and in Scandinavian graves in Great Britain. With a few exceptions, knives with a silver wrap always come from graves. The silver wrap is also used if the sheath is decorated with a copper alloy (grave 1067 in Birka, graves 224 and 503 in Ire).

    • gold
      Golden wire is known from only one find, the grave 60/00 from the Polish locality Kałdus (Chudziak 2010: 456-7, Tab. 13). It is interesting that this royally decorated knife was stored in the sheath with another, undecorated knife, thus creating a set for lavish and everyday occasions.

    • unknown
      We also register 37 pieces in the catalog for which the material is unknown or we were not able to find it.

  • bicolour
    The finds from graves 973 and 1081 are decorated with wires, which are formed by a combination of silver and copper alloy (Arbman 1940: Taf. 177.3, 179.5; Arbman 1943: 400, 450). As can be seen from the above, a number of finds indicate the popularity of contrasts, which were achieved with different windings (combination of double-rod wires), different diameters and also differently coloured materials. These elements have been used to achieve a more elegant and expensive look that is plastic, visually captivating and uses games of light and shadow.

The knife from Novgorod (НГМ КП 37259/244 А-95/244). Taken from the pages of the Novgorod Museum.

The question of cultural affiliation, dating, status and gender

It is clear from the catalog that wire-wrapped knife handles are distributed in a wide strip from England almost to the Urals, from the Black Sea to northern Sweden. The focus of the occurrence is the countries around the Baltic Sea (Denmark, Sweden, including Gotland, Germany, Poland, Lithuania, Latvia), the Ladoga region and the territory of ancient Rus. Nevertheless, the often resonated view that the wrapped handles are called Scandinavian production or technological tradition (Lesman 2014: 46; Eniosova 2015: 550-1) can only be partially agreed. The Scandinavian tradition was certainly leading, especially in the western and southern parts of the Baltic region, England and ancient Rus, but it was not the only one. The number of pieces from today’s Lithuania and Latvia, as well as the preference for copper alloy over silver and the absence of “connections” between the wraps, points to the considerable popularity in the Curonian and Livonian territories, which may have been of domestic origin. The same can be said about Ladoga region knives, which rather follow a distinctive tradition. Knives from the Sarkel and Mokryj-IV localities are nomadic and do not belong to any of the above-mentioned traditions. Mari production also seems to form an independent line.

The oldest knives with wire wraps, which we were able to find, can be dated to the period of 6th-8th century, but are exceptional (locality Kvarnbacken; Kivikoski 1963: Taf. 16.14b). The wrapping trend then begins around 900 (Petersen 1951: 190) or even before it (Arrhenius 1989: 82) and in Scandinavia culminates by the placement of these decorated knives in graves during the 10th century (Birka, Haithabu, Thumby-Bienebek). This dating can also be applied to Scandinavian finds in Great Britain and the northern coast of Poland (Kołobrzeg, Wolin). There are not many Scandinavian specimens that could be dated to the 11th century and they seem to be concentrated on the islands of Gotland and Bornholm. In Old Rus tombs, these knives were buried in the second half of the 10th and 1st half of the 11th century (Kiev, Pskov, Timerevo), which also applies to Polish finds, with the youngest grave specimens dating back to the 12th century (Kałdus). The same dating to the end of the 10th, 11th and 12th centuries is possible for Ladoga region and Novgorod finds. Finds from Luistari in Finland date back to the 11th century. While the Curonian specimens show around the turn of the 10th-11th century, Semmigalian and Livonian finds can be dated to the 11th and 12th centuries. Finds from Slavic territories in today’s Germany do not allow closer dating, but the long knife from Demmin is dated to the second half of the 11th century. Nomadic and Mari knives do not allow closer dating. In the light of these conclusions, it might seem that the Scandinavian tradition is the oldest and has initiated the emergence of domestic productions in today’s Germany, Poland, Lithuania, Latvia, Finland and Russia, but we cannot definitively confirm this without a proper revision of the Baltic pieces.

There is no doubt that wrapped knives represent a more expensive extension, which increases the value and aesthetic appearance of the product. The very fact that wrapped handles are often found in graves is a relatively good indication that they are status objects. In the case of many Danish and Swedish silver wraps, one can directly speak of placement in prestigiously equipped graves in the best locations. The use of gold wire leads to the same. The exceptionally high number of knives from Birka (53) points to the norm across a high social level. If we talk only about the Scandinavian tradition, it seems possible that the copper alloy wraps were perceived as a less expensive variant that was more suitable for manual work – while we know only silver wraps from Haithabu graves, copper alloy wraps are known exclusively from the settlement. However, this statement does not apply to the Baltic and Ladoga traditions; copper alloy wire is used even for the most luxurious products. In the Scandinavian, Baltic and Ladoga traditions, knives with wraps are mainly parts of female graves or graves with typically female equipment, although specimens from male graves can also be found, including knives that are 30-60 cm long. It is generally believed in the literature that silver-wrapped knives belonged primarily to wealthy women (Brøndsted 1936: 221).

Knife from the grave of BA, Bogøvej (Grøn – Krag – Bennike 1994: Fig. 37).
The reproduction is made by Flint Startsev.

Comparison with sword handles

The analysis of sets of knives and swords allows a comparison of constructions and distributions, which deserves discussion in a separate chapter. We believe that the below-mentioned proposal on distribution has potential that significantly exceeds the topic of these groups of subjects and is applicable at a general level.

The biggest difference that occurs between the wraps of knives and swords is the fact that the knives are significantly less often wrapped in a continuous wrapping, which is basically a standard modification of wire-wrapped swords. Related to this, wraps of the knife handles are put in the prepared notches, which we do not find at sword handles. The handles of both groups use similarly thick wires, which are made of identical materials and in many cases are wound in identical ways. In both groups we see the dominance of a simple single-rod, untwisted wire. Despite the fact that the knife handles are not usually wrapped continuously, advanced methods known from sword handless are applied to them as well: multi-rod twisted wire, alternation of single-rod and two double-rod wires in the style of “herringbone pattern”, alternation of surfaces with single-rod and double-rod wire. If we stated in the article on sword handles that wraps enjoyed the greatest popularity during the second half of the 10th century and the beginning of the 11th century, we are able to mark the period of the 10th and 11th centuries in case of knives, depending on the region. The style of both groups of objects is so similar that it is possible that the handles were made by the same workshops or craftsmen.

Distribution of wire-wrapped swords. Bigger resolution here.
Purple = iron; orange = copper alloy; black = silver; green = combination of silver, copper alloy and iron; yellow = gold; blue = unknown.

And the parallels continue into the area of ​​distribution. In both cases, we see not only the presence of Scandinavia, but also a strong presence around the entire Baltic Sea, Lake Ladoga and in Central and Eastern Europe. A great example of the overlap of the two sets is both the mound 10 in Njubiniči, which contains a knife and a sword wrapped in silver wire, and the Polish locality of Ciepłe, where we find three sword wraps and two knife wraps. The same case could be found in the Latvian locality of Salaspils, Estonian site Ratvere and Ukrainian Dorohobuž. This distribution is in fact not accidental and corresponds to a wide package of silver-plated artifacts, which include Petersen’s sword types S, T, V, Z, decorated spears, stirrups and helmets, in other words elite products. Their distribution in the region of Central and Eastern Europe during the advanced 10th and early 11th centuries is a reflection of the shared fashion that affected the local royal courts, which adopted it, modified it and spread it to their own glory (Košta 2020: 48). Western Europe was only marginally affected by this fashion wave.

For this reason, it is not possible to search for places of origin in Scandinavia; the place of production can be any place that has been hit by fashion, be it the Baltic countries, Piast Poland, Přemyslid Bohemia, Arpad Hungary or Kievan Rus. The idea of calling St. Wenceslas helmet or the tombs of Ciepłe as Scandinavian is tempting, but simply not feasible. It is significant that especially in the Czech Republic and Poland, the idea appears repeatedly in the academic environment, which is related to new finds and the need for their categorization on one hand, on the other hand to the inability to find foreign parallels and succumbing to “Viking facade” that is interesting from the marketing perspective. Ultimately, we attribute interesting artifacts of potentially local origin to an exotic region instead of trying to deeply rationalize their position in the local tradition.

Distribution of Petersen type S swords. Bigger resolution here.


Distribution of wire-wrapped knives. Bigger resolution here.
Purple = iron; orange = copper alloy; black = silver; green = combination silver and copper alloy; yellow = gold; blue = unknown.

Belarus and Ukraine

Mikolaj Plavinski, who consulted with us the Belarusian material, told us that there are more Belarusian pieces, but they have not been properly revised. In the following list we present only one piece.


  • 1× silver wire, grave A, site Kaagården (Grøn – Krag – Bennike 1994: 130).

  • 4 × silver wire, grave AK, BA a BD, site Bogøvej (Grøn – Krag – Bennike 1994: 130, Fig. 37).

  • 1× silver wire, grave A1636, site Lejre (Christensen 2015: 156, Fig. 8.13).

  • 2× silver wire, graves 382 and 494, site Grødby (Wagnkilde 1999: Fig. 5).

  • 2× silver wire, 1× copper alloy wire, graves DC, JA and JD, site Stengade II (Skaarup 1976: 174-5, Pl. 39, 44-5).

  • 1× silver wire, grave A, site Brandstrup III (Iversen – Nielsen 1993: 140).

  • 1× silver wire, site Hørning (Voss 1991: 195).

  • 1× silver wire, site Enner Mark (Rimstad – Ojantakanen 2015: 32).

  • 1× silver wire, grave IV, site Træhede (Eisenschmidt 2004: Kat.-Nr. 07.04).

  • 2× silver wire, graves 128 and 129, site Trelleborg (Nørlund 1948: Pl. XXVII.5-6).

  • 1× silver wire, grave 10, site Ladby (Thorvildsen 1957: 93, Abb. 80).

  • 1× silver wire, grave 4, site Fyrkat (Roesdahl 1977: 91, Fig. 117).

  • 1× silver wire, grave 22a, site Fyrkat (Roesdahl 1977: 117, Fig. 185). An awl wrapped with wire was found in the grave as well.

  • 1× silver wire, grave 1, site Højstrup (Brøndsted 1936: 85, Nr. 3).

  • 2× silver wire, site Hvilehøj (Brøndsted 1936: 101, Nr. 32).

  • 1× silver wire, grave 2, site Ramme (Brøndsted 1936: 111, Nr. 43).

  • 1× silver wire, site Fårup (Brøndsted 1936: 107, Nr. 36).

  • 1× silver wire, site Bjerrehøj (Brøndsted 1936: 109, Nr. 40).

  • 1× silver wire, grave IV, site Sønder Onsild (Roesdahl 1978: 28, 47, Abb. 14)

  • 3× silver wire, site Kjølvejen/Over Hornbek (Lyngstrøm 1995: 82, Fig. 5).

  • 1× copper alloy wire, site Kjølvejen/Over Hornbek (Lyngstrøm 1995: 82).

  • 1× copper alloy wire, site Ottestrup (Lyngstrøm 1995: Fig. 4).


  • 5× copper alloy wire, graves 25, 55, 56, 118 and 208, site Luistari (Lehtosalo-Hilander 1982: 47).

  • 5× copper alloy wire, graves C3, C4, C29, CA and one stray find, site Kjuloholm / Köyliö (Cleve 1978: 172).

  • 1× iron wire, grave 155, site Luistari (Lehtosalo-Hilander 1982: 47).

Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia

According to the Lithuanian knife maker Vykintas Matuzevičius, up to 25-30% of all Curonian knives are equipped with wrapping. Edvards Puciriuss speaks similarly about Livonian knives. Wrapped knives are not well published, and another, no smaller problem, is the fact that the decorated sheaths of these knives also cover the handles and the wrapping is not visible. The presented list, which would probably number hundreds during the complete revision of the archives, is therefore only a sample.


Great Britain and Ireland


  • 1× copper alloy wire, grave 91, site Letkés-Téglaégető II (Bakay 1978: 121, Pl. 55.5).


  • 1× silver wire, site Lille Guldkronen (C22445; Petersen 1951: 189-190).

  • 1× silver wire, site Nes (C12456; Petersen 1951: 198).

  • 1× silver wire, site Aske østre (found 2020, unpublished).
  • 1× silver wire, site Hovet (C56977; catalog Unimus).



  • 1× copper alloy wire, site Novgorod (НГМ КП 37259/1408 А-95/1408).

  • 2× copper alloy wire, mound 17, site Begunicy (Бегуницы) (Rjabinin 2001: 256, табл. XL.5-6).

  • 4× copper alloy wire, graves 3, 6, 6/10, 19, site Karlucha (Карлуха) (Kočkurkina – Liněvskij 1985: 21, 23, 25, 29; Kočkurkina 1989: Рис. 85.14).

  • 3× copper alloy wire, graves 71, 103 and 197/1, site Zalachtovje (Залахтовье) (Chvočinskaja 2004: 99, табл. XLVII.14, LIII.B5, XCIV.11).

  • 2× copper alloy wire, graves 10 and 11, site Megrino (Мергино) (Kočkurkina – Liněvskij 1985: 80).

  • 1× copper alloy wire, grave 1, site Valdanica (Валданица) (Kočkurkina – Liněvskij 1985: 111).

  • 1× copper alloy wire, site Gorodok na Lovati (Городок на Ловати) (Gorjunova 2016: 22, Рис. 34.14).

  • 1× copper alloy wire, grave 3, site Gajgovo (Гайгово) (Kočkurkina – Liněvskij 1985: 125; Kočkurkina 2013: 108).

  • 1× copper alloy wire, grave 1, site Pirdojla (Пирдойла) (Kočkurkina 1989: 243; Kočkurkina 2013: 120).

  • 1× copper alloy wire, grave 2, site Šugozero (Шугозеро) (Kočkurkina 1989: 218; Kočkurkina 2013: 78).

  • 1× copper alloy wire, grave 16, site Krasnaja Zarja (Красная Заря) (Kočkurkina 1989: 20; Kočkurkina 2013: 24).

  • 1× copper alloy wire, grave 1, site Lipnaja Gorka (Липная Горка) (Kočkurkina 1989: 38; Kočkurkina 2013: 26).

  • 1× copper alloy wire, grave 59/60, site Sjaznega (Сязнега) (Kočkurkina 1989: 146; Kočkurkina 2013: 56).

  • 2× copper alloy wire, grave 116, site Vachruševo (Вахрушево) (Kočkurkina 1989: 179; Kočkurkina 2013: 65).

  • 1× copper alloy wire, mound 12, site Kumbita (Кумбита) (Kočkurkina 1989: 101).

  • 1× copper alloy wire, mound 1, site Podjandebskoje (Подъяндебское) (Kočkurkina 1989: 222).

  • 1× copper alloy wire, mound 1, site Kapšoila (Капшойла) (Kočkurkina 1989: 227).

  • 1× copper alloy wire, mound 6, site Vituj (Витуй) (Kočkurkina 1989: 80).

  • 1× unspecified wire, unknown site, stored in Joškar-Ola museum.

  • 2× unspecified wire, one from an unspecified Mari site, the second from grave 12, site Povetluzhye (Поветлужье) (Archipov 1973: 46, Рис. 59.3, 5, 6).

  • 1× unspecified wire, grave 12, Veselovskyj burial ground (Rybakov 1987: 243, табл. LII.21).

  • 1× unspecified wire, grave Dn-17, site Gnězdovo. An unpublished find from the 1980s.

  • 1× unspecified wire, grave 89, site Kirilino (Кирилино) (Kočkurkina 1989: 160; Kočkurkina 2013: 59).

  • 1× unspecified wire, grave 102, site Kostino (Костино) (Kočkurkina 1989: 169).

  • 11× unspecified wire, graves of Rusenichinskij cemetery (Русенихинский могильник) (Nikitina 2018: Рис. 21, Рис. 37.11, Рис. 47.2).


  • 1× silver wire, grave 36, site Gamla Uppsala (Nordahl 2001: 56, Fig. 48-9).

  • 1× silver wire, grave VIII, site Vendel (Stolpe – Arne 1912: 33, Pl. XXII.11)

  • 1× silver wire, grave IX, site Vendel (Stolpe – Arne 1912: 34-5, Pl. XXIV.1)

  • 1× silver wire and 1× unspecified wire, graves I and X, site Tuna Alsike (Arne 1934: 24, 37, Taf. IV.6, XV.7).

  • 2× silver wire, grave 12, site Valsgärde (Pedersen 2014: Pl. 63.3; Sénby Posse 2021: Figs. 19, 24).

  • 2× silver wire, grave 15, site Valsgärde (Pedersen 2014: Pl. 63.2; Sénby Posse 2021: Figs. 69, 75).

  • 1× silver wire, site Gamla Uppsala (Arkeologerna 2023).

  • 1× silver wire, site Djurped (catalog SHM).

  • 1× silver wire, male grave 9, site Vivallen (Zachrisson 1997: 68; catalog SHM)

  • 1× silver wire, grave 77, site Birka (Arbman 1943: 31).

  • 1× silver wire, grave 308, site Birka (Arbman 1943: 90).

  • 1× silver wire, grave 318, site Birka (Arbman 1943: 91).

  • 1× silver wire, grave 332, site Birka (Arbman 1943: 90).

  • 1× silver wire, grave 501, site Birka (Arbman 1940: Taf. 179.12; Arbman 1943: 145).

  • 1× silver wire, grave 504, site Birka (Arbman 1943: 146).

  • 1× silver wire, grave 518, site Birka (Arbman 1943: 156).

  • 1× silver wire, grave 557, site Birka (Arbman 1943: 178).

  • 1× silver wire, grave 594, site Birka (Arbman 1940: Taf. 179.8; Arbman 1943: 194).

  • 1× silver wire, grave 632, site Birka (Arbman 1940: Taf. 177.1; Arbman 1943: 212).

  • 1× silver wire, grave 643, site Birka (Arbman 1943: 221; catalog SHM).

  • 1× silver wire, grave 660, site Birka (Arbman 1943: 232; catalog SHM).

  • 1× silver wire, grave 708, site Birka (Arbman 1943: 243; catalog SHM).

  • 1× silver wire, grave 709, site Birka (Arbman 1940: Taf. 179.7; Arbman 1943: 244).

  • 1× silver wire, grave 710, site Birka (Arbman 1943: 244; catalog SHM).

  • 1× silver wire, grave 727, site Birka (Arbman 1943: 253; catalog SHM).

  • 1× silver wire, grave 731, site Birka (Arbman 1943: 254; catalog SHM).

  • 1× silver wire, grave 733, site Birka (Arbman 1943: 256; catalog SHM).

  • 1× silver wire, grave 735, site Birka (Arbman 1943: 256; catalog SHM).

  • 1× silver wire, grave 738, site Birka (Arbman 1943: 263; catalog SHM).

  • 1× silver wire, grave 746, site Birka (Arbman 1943: 267; catalog SHM).

  • 1× silver wire, grave 750, site Birka (Arbman 1943: 270; catalog SHM).

  • 1× silver wire, grave 762, site Birka (Arbman 1940: Taf. 179.10; Arbman 1943: 279).

  • 1× silver wire, grave 767, site Birka (Arbman 1943: 280; catalog SHM).

  • 1× silver wire, grave 777, site Birka (Arbman 1940: Taf. 179.4; Arbman 1943: 283).

  • 1× silver wire, grave 791, site Birka (Arbman 1940: Taf. 179.9; Arbman 1943: 287).

  • 1× silver wire, grave 804, site Birka (Arbman 1943: 292; catalog SHM).

  • 1× silver wire, grave 808, site Birka (Arbman 1940: Taf. 179.6; Arbman 1943: 293).

  • 1× silver wire, grave 822, site Birka (Arbman 1943: 296; catalog SHM).

  • 1× silver wire, grave 834, site Birka (Arbman 1943: 305; catalog SHM).

  • 1× silver wire, grave 837, site Birka (Arbman 1940: Taf. 178.3; Arbman 1943: 310).

  • 1× silver wire, grave 838, site Birka (Arbman 1943: 312; catalog SHM). An awl wrapped with wire was found in the grave as well.

  • 1× silver wire, grave 844, site Birka (Arbman 1943: 319; catalog SHM).

  • 1× silver wire, grave 845, site Birka (Arbman 1943: 320; catalog SHM).

  • 1× silver wire, grave 886, site Birka (Arbman 1943: 344; catalog SHM).

  • 2× silver wire, grave 944, site Birka (Arbman 1943: 368; catalog SHM).

  • 1× silver wire, grave 950, site Birka (Arbman 1940: Taf. 179.1; Arbman 1943: 375-6).

  • 2× silver wire, grave 955, site Birka (Arbman 1943: 379; catalog SHM).

  • 1× silver wire, grave 959, site Birka (Arbman 1943: 384; catalog SHM).

  • 1× silver wire, grave 968, site Birka (Arbman 1940: Taf. 178.2; Arbman 1943: 396).

  • 1× combination of silver and copper alloy wires, grave 973, site Birka (Arbman 1940: Taf. 177.3; Arbman 1943: 400).

  • 1× silver wire, grave 975, site Birka (Arbman 1943: 402; catalog SHM).

  • 1× silver wire, grave 978, site Birka (Arbman 1943: 406; catalog SHM).

  • 1× silver wire, grave 980, site Birka (Arbman 1943: 407; catalog SHM).

  • 1× silver wire, grave 985, site Birka (Arbman 1943: 411; catalog SHM).

  • 1× silver wire, grave 1030, site Birka (Arbman 1943: 431).

  • 1× silver wire, grave 1035, site Birka (Arbman 1943: 432).

  • 1× silver wire, grave 1053, site Birka (Arbman 1943: 438).

  • 1× silver wire, grave 1067, site Birka (Arbman 1943: 444, Abb. 408b).

  • 1× combination of silver and copper alloy wires, grave 1081, site Birka (Arbman 1940: Taf. 179.5; Arbman 1943: 450).

  • 1× silver wire, grave 1130, site Birka (Arbman 1940: Taf. 179.11; Arbman 1943: 466).

  • 1× silver wire, grave 1131, site Birka (Arbman 1943: 468; catalog SHM).

  • 1× silver wire, grave 1159, site Birka (Arbman 1943: 478; catalog SHM).

  • 1× silver wire, grave 2B/1947, site Slite (Thunmark-Nylén 1995: Abb. 245b; Thunmark-Nylén 2000: 579).

  • 1× silver wire, site Sigvars (Thunmark-Nylén 1998: Abb. 181.6; Thunmark-Nylén 2000: 152).

  • 1× silver wire, grave 19/1933, site Broe (Thunmark-Nylén 1998: Abb. 181.7; Thunmark-Nylén 2000: 343).

  • 1× silver wire, grave 12a-b/1939, site Broe (Kvietorp) (Thunmark-Nylén 1995: Abb. 141.8; Thunmark-Nylén 2000: 346).

  • 1× silver wire, unknown Gotlandic site (SHM 2976:238; Thunmark-Nylén 2000: 884).

  • 1× copper alloy wire, grave 212, site Kopparsvik (Thunmark-Nylén 2000: 858)..

  • 1× copper alloy wire, grave 230/1965, site Kopparsvik (Toplak 2016: 243).

  • 1× copper alloy wire, grave 266/1966, site Kopparsvik (Toplak 2016: 281).

  • 1× copper alloy wire, grave 272/1966, site Kopparsvik (Toplak 2016: 287).

  • 1× copper alloy wire, grave 283/1966, site Kopparsvik (Toplak 2016: 300).

  • 1× copper alloy wire, grave 72, site Bjärs (Thunmark-Nylén 1995: Abb. 154.1; Thunmark-Nylén 2000: 382).

  • 1× copper alloy wire, grave 3, site Bjärs (Thunmark-Nylén 1995: Abb. 281.10; Thunmark-Nylén 2000: 660-1).

  • 1× copper alloy wire, grave 224, site Ire (Thunmark-Nylén 1995: Abb. 220b; Thunmark-Nylén 2000: 411).

  • 1× copper alloy wire, grave 2, site Barshalder (Thunmark-Nylén 2000: 258).

  • 1× copper alloy wire, grave 10/1966 site Barshalder (Thunmark-Nylén 2000: 266).

  • 1× copper alloy wire, grave 20/1931, site Broe (Thunmark-Nylén 2000: 336).

  • 1× copper alloy wire, grave 16A, site Lekarehed (Thunmark-Nylén 1995: Abb. 236; Thunmark-Nylén 2000: 490).

  • 1× copper alloy wire, site Björkome (Thunmark-Nylén 2000: 704).

  • 1× copper alloy wire, site Burge (Thunmark-Nylén 2000: 528).

  • 2× copper alloy wire, site Hemse (Thunmark-Nylén 1995: Abb. 228.12Thunmark-Nylén 2000: 454, 464).

  • 1× copper alloy wire, grave 503, site Ire (Thunmark-Nylén 1995: Abb. 214b.9; Thunmark-Nylén 2000: 435).

  • 1× unspecified wire, site Prästgården (Thunmark-Nylén 1998: Abb. 179.6; Thunmark-Nylén 2000: 494).

  • 1× unspecified wire, grave 11/1935, site Barshalder (Thunmark-Nylén 2000: 244).

  • 1× unspecified wire, grave 16/1973, site Gällungs (Thunmark-Nylén 2000: 710).

  • 1× unspecified wire, grave 118, site Kopparsvik (Thunmark-Nylén 1998: Abb. 387bThunmark-Nylén 2000: 848).


This work could not have been possible without the help of a number of people who selflessly and willingly helped us to find unknown pieces or literature. In the first place, we must name Aleksandra Shchedrina, whose incredible search skills enriched the catalog with many Russian finds. Zhdan Zabashta and Taras Zagaruk willingly helped us with the Ukrainian finds. We had the opportunity to consult Polish pieces with Andrzej Janowski and Bartosz Ligocki, who provided us with the necessary literature. Adam Parsons and Mark Randerson pointed us to English pieces we had no idea about. Oleg Shevtsov also pointed to the Dublin specimen and Mikolaj Plavinski to the Belarusian material. Reiner Liebentraut kindly provided German literature for which we are very indebted. Vykintas Motuza Matuzevičius, Edvards Puciriuss, Indrek Jets and Artis Āboltiņš deserve our thanks for the Baltic pieces. We also express our gratitude to Sami Raninen for supplying Finnish literature, Lars Grundvad for Danish literature and Götz Breitenbücher for the opportunity to use his photographs.

Knife from grave 72, site Bjärs (Thunmark-Nylén 1995: Abb. 154.1).

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.


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5 Responses

  1. Hello David, this is, as usual, an excellent article!
    I am wondering, however, have you done an article on decorated handles, other than by wire wrapping?
    I am making a couple of seax handles and would like to base the artwork on finds if there are any.
    Many thanks and keep up the good work. Russ

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