Viking necklace

Contributed by Saffron Walden Museum

Viking necklace from a woman's grave, Saffron Walden, Essex. © Saffron Walden Museum

Burial with a necklace like this suggests a pagan Viking grave, but its owner was buried in a Christian Saxon cemeteryThis necklace has beads of glass, carnelian, crystal and silver, one plain silver pendant and two silver-gilt pendants decorated with ribbon pattern in Scandinavian style. It dates from around 875-900 AD, the time of Alfred the Great and the Danish (Viking) campaigns. The necklace was excavated in 1876 from the grounds of Hill House, home of the Gibsons, a prominent Quaker family in Saffron Walden. The site had been a cemetery in the late Saxon period, when the local population was Christian and buried without grave goods. There was one exceptional grave: a woman buried wearing this necklace, just like pagan Viking women in Scandinavia. We can only guess whether her family came to England with the Danish army, which overran East Anglia from the 870s, and if they took land by force or settled peacefully. The plain silver pendant is inscribed with a cross, perhaps a sign that the owner had accepted the Christian God of her neighbours.

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About this object

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Location
Culture
Period

late 9th to early 10th century AD

Theme
Size
H:
8cm
W:
20cm
Colour
Material

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