Viking Arm Ring: Viking Oath of Loyalty and Dignity
It is difficult to tell exactly whether the Vikings historically had the arm ring as their solemn vow of loyalty. But according to the legendary tales that survive the test of time, we learn that the Viking Arm Ring occupied an important role in the Viking society. Because when a boy could receive an arm ring, it meant the boy finally became a real man.
Bjorn Ironside wearing his Wolf bracelet (arm ring) in TV series "Vikings"
HISTORICAL USE OF VIKING ARM RING?
If we have a purse or wallet to keep our money, the Vikings had their arm ring. It was a wealth in a very convenient way. An arm ring is actually a bracelet worn as a piece of jewelry around the bicep or the upper arm.
Many of the Viking arm ring artifacts that archaeologists found were not decorated beautifully and not fancy at all. They were created to be broken easily by bending. This was the "hacksilver" method. For example, a Viking would break pieces from his/her arm ring to trade for things he wanted in the trading center.
Viking arm rings appeared in the hoard of the Viking artifacts
Some of the Viking arm rings were just plain or simple twisted wire. There were some with subtle decoration and complex patterns.
SYMBOLIC DENOTATION OF VIKING ARM RING
In fact, the Viking arm ring didn't need to be a "I swear on my arm ring as a symbol of my loyalty to my jarl" vow. It might just be a symbol of wealth from the jarl or the chieftain in the community. King Hrothgar in Beowulf was known was the "ring-giver". It means that the King was the one that offered his people the arm ring. It also suggested Hrothgar's wealth and generosity to his men.
The arm ring did appear in some of the Viking tales. In Frithiof's Saga, an arm ring was given to the beloved bride of a man who was about to go away for a long period. The arm ring suggested his great love, loyalty, and the wanting that his bride would not betray him and always remember their love.
Till then, farewell! Forget me never! And,
In sweet remembrance of our youthful love
This arm-ring take, a fair Vaulunder-work
With all heaven's wonders carved in the shining gold
Ah! The best wonder is the faithful heart
How prettily becomes it Thy white arm
Farewell! My bride! My best beloved! Farewell
A short few months. And then how different then
Arm rings also appeared in the Eyrbyggja Saga. According to the text, all men must make their solemn vow on the arm ring:
But off the inmost house was there another house, of that fashion whereof now is the choir of a church, and there stood a stall in the midst of the floor in the fashion of an altar, and thereon lay a ring without a join that weighed twenty ounces, and on that must men swear all oaths; and that ring must the chief have on his arm at all man-motes.
VIKING ARM RING IN THE MODERN SENSE
Jarl no longer exists in our community in this day and age. So how to make a vow with the Viking arm ring these days? My personal opinion is that be flexible. Whether only you wear the arm ring dedicated to only yourself or you are wearing it with your team as a way to show loyalty, it depends on your own decision to make a vow on it.
Viking warrior wearing Viking Wolf Head Bracelet (Cre: "Vikings" TV Series)
For example, you can have a Viking arm ring and vow on it that you will try to build a healthy habit. It's completely ok. Some couples share that they have the Viking arm ring for themselves and they promise on the arm ring to forever be loyal to their partner.
What much resembles the use of the arm ring in the Viking community is to wear the arm ring with your team. It is the way that all of you, hopefully all Viking enthusiasts, swear to forever treat the other right and never to go back on your words.
It doesn't matter if there is no leader like the jarl in this community. We can still wear the Viking Arm Ring and give our vow on it. It all depends on your faith in the Vikings.