Vadstena Bracteate: Viking Jewelry and Cult of Odin

Posted by Ms Elly on

Vadstena Bracteate: Viking Jewelry and Cult of Odin

Viking Jewelry will never astonish us for the meaning each of them carries. Vadstena bracteate is among the mysterious Viking jewelry featuring the runes and the man who was allegedly Odin. 

What is Bracteate?

In Latin, bractea means a thin piece of metal. A Bracteate is a piece of small single-sided gold medal as a jewelry. The original place where people produced bracteate was Northern Europe. This term could also be used as the small golden discs that sewn into clothing in the ancient world. 

Vadstena Bracteate

The reason why it is called Vadstena Bracteate is that archaeologists found it in Vadstena, Sweden. The archaeologists happened to find this piece of Viking jewlery in Vadstena around 1774. In the archaeological treasure that they unearthed, there were a gold ring and a piece of gold sheet. 

Vadstena Bracteate viking jewelry

It is hard to tell when exactly the bracteate was created. 

In the middle of the bracteate, a man was riding on his horse. But it only featured the head of the man emerging from the horse's back. In front of the man was a raven flying. The archaeologists couldn't help relating the man with the Norse god Odin. In Norse mythology, Odin rode an eight-legged horse named Sleipnir. And raven was also his constant companion. They often appeared together. 

Odin riding on his horse Sleipnir appearing in the Viking jewelry

Odin was riding the Sleipnir horse 

The runic letters on the small piece of Vadstena Viking Jewelry were even more mysterious. The runic inscription reads: 

tuwatuwa; fuþarkgw; hnijïpzs; tbemlŋo[d]

In fact, the last "d" letter was not revealed in the jewelry. But the archaeologists could guess out what it was thanks to the similar bracteate found in Motala. 

The meaning of the runic letters remains unknown, however. Many theories have been put forward but none could satisfy all scholars. The scholars and archaeologists tend to believe that it refers to the divine power and magic. 

Vadstena bracteate Viking jewelry

However, the Vadstena Bracteate has been missing since 1938. Someone managed to bring it out of the Swedish Museum of National Antiques. 

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