What Did The Amulet Depicting A Couple in Viking Artifact Symbolize?

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What Did The Amulet Depicting A Couple in Viking Artifact Symbolize?

Mystery is all around whenever it comes to the Viking artifact. Whether we can understand what the artifact symbolized or not, the Viking artifact is sure to always capture the attention of us. In this blog post, we are to discuss one piece of Viking amulet that is yet to find the answer to its meaning. 

About 3,000 pieces of the similar miniature amulets dating back to the Viking period (500-1030 AD) were found in Scandinavia. They show a man and a woman hugging and looking at each other. Though we can see what the artifact depict, all we can put forward are none other than the theories upon the meaning of the amulet. 

The amulets are as thin as a leave.

In Scandinavia, the word for these small amulets was gullgubber which meant "the little old man with gold". Because it was thought that they were trying to depict two men holding each other. However, this turned out to be wrong because the amulet was to depict a man and a woman. 

Image of Viking artifact

The small amulets found depicting a man and a woman embracing each other(Cre: Vegard Vike, KHM/UiO)

The woman wears a type of dress and the hair of the woman in some versions of the artifacts depict the same woman hairstyle in some Viking picture stones. Meanwhile, the man wears a kind of pant with a hat in some versions. Both of them can even wear the long coat outside. 

The scholars believed that the artifacts were trying to tell us a story which could even depict a Viking formal ritual in their tradition. Such small artifacts must have been made by the talented goldsmiths of the time. The details are extremely impressive when the archaeologists look at them under the microscope. 

Image of Viking artifact

Found inside or near special buildings

Sorte Muld in Bornholm, Denmark was the place that witnessed the most enormous excavation of up to 2,500 pieces of the amulets. The amulets were commonly found in connection with buildings which were believed to be none other than the worship house. The archaeologists believed that the Vikings placed the small amulets there for purpose. Especially, what drew the attention of the archaeologists was the place of the amulets: in the center of the building. 

Image of Viking couple in Viking artifact

Between 2005-2008, an excavation in a temple in Eastern Norway where the archaeologists believed to have been the Norse temple found around 30 miniature amulets of the same design in the post holes. Many of iron items were also found in this excavation. Archaeologists refuted the theory that this building was a Viking longhouse because there were no personal and daily items of a family like the clay cooking pots, sharpening stone, etc. found inside the house. With what were found inside, they believed the building was a real house of worship. 

God Freyr and Gerdr the giantess

As mentioned above, many theories have put forward upon the small amulets. What is generally accepted is that the amulet doesn't serve any functional purpose, but the spiritual purpose instead. 

One famous theory that the majority agreed is the amulet depicted the tale from Norse mythology: the wedding of Freyr God of summer and sunlight and Giantess Gerdr. The fact is that, love affair between god and giant happened in Norse mythology even though the two tribes (god and giant) were the sworn enemies.

Legend had it that Freyr once secretly sat on the High Throne of Odin the Allfather only to fall in love with a giantess named Gerdr in the Jotunheim. The journey to win himself a wife of Freyr was somewhat bitter as he had to sacrifice his famous powerful sword. But the sacrifice was worth it because Freyr was finally able to tie the know with the one he loved. In Ragnarok the Doom of Gods, Freyr had to fight with the weirdest weapon in the myth: an antler. The marriage of Freyr came at the cost of his sword which could have saved his life in Ragnarok. But what we should focus and appreciate here is the love that Freyr gave to his wife Gerdr a giantess from the side of gods' enemies. 

Image of freyr and gerd wedding norse mythology viking artifact explained

The wedding of Freyr and Gerdr

The theory put forward is based on this love story. The small amulets might have depicted the wedding scene off Freyr and Gerdr. If this were true, the amulets could have appeared in the wedding ceremonies of the Vikings to represent the love between the bride and groom and to honour the love story and the great sacrifice for love of God Freyr. Some theorists believed that the amulets might have been a kind of entrance tickets to the wedding ceremonies for those who were either invited or worthy to join the ceremonies. 

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