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Viking Silver Cross & Quartz Crystal Necklace, 131.0 g


Northern Europe, Viking or Norse culture, ca. 11th century CE. An elegant necklace comprised of high-grade silver (99% silver) formed into thirty-three individual links, each with twisted loop terminals. Alternating along the terminals are sixteen applied silver wire balls and seventeen hand-carved, translucent quartz crystal beads. The terminals of the lower links wrap around the top of a central ringlet, and from said ringlet hangs a solid silver cross. The petite cross bears four evenly-sized arms, each bearing five stamped dots and an inward-facing triangle with a granulated dot surrounding a central concentric circle. A superb and wearable example of fine Viking artistry! Amethyst fragment for photography purposes only. Size (necklace): 30" L (76.2 cm); size (cross pendant): 1.25" W x 1.5" H (3.2 cm x 3.8 cm); quality of silver: 99%; total weight: 131.0 grams.

A piece such as this would have been made in a specialized workshop centered around a hearth, probably using the lost wax casting technique. The important Viking metalworking shops correspond to their great trading ports and proto-urban centers - Birka, Helgo, Sigtuna, and Lund in Sweden, Ribe, Haithabu (Hedeby), and Fyrkat in Denmark, and Kaupang and Trondheim in Norway. Silver was the principal currency of the Viking world, which stretched from Russia to northern Canada at the height of their influence. In many places, the Vikings kept silver not as coins, but as jewelry, a wearable currency form that was not subject to the authority of a monarch or mint. One of the most common archaeological finds from the Viking period is a hoard of metal objects, often buried in the earth or deposited in bodies of water, like river beds. These are found in great quantities throughout the British Isles and the Nordic countries. A cross like this one may have been deposited in a hoard or buried in a grave, although that practice died out as the conversion to Christianity became more complete and bodies stopped being buried with grave goods.

Condition: Wearable as shown. Surface wear and minor abrasions commensurate with age, minor nicks to quartz crystal beads, and slight bending to overall form of central ring and cross pendant, otherwise intact and excellent. Light earthen deposits and nice patina within recessed areas.

Provenance: private New York, New York, USA collection

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