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Viking Objects

Reproduction Equal-Armed Brooch

A reproduction of an equal-armed brooch in the Borre style found in Nottinghamshire. This style of brooch is known from Birka in Sweden, suggesting trade contacts or individuals from Birka arriving in the East Midlands. Brooches were a typical part of female dress. Scandinavian brooches came in a variety of sizes and shapes which included disc, trefoil, lozenge, equal-armed, and oval shapes. The different brooch types served a variety of functions in Scandinavian female dress with oval brooches typically being used as shoulder clasps for apron-type dresses and the rest being used to secure an outer garment to an inner shift. Anglo-Saxon brooches do not match this diversity of form with large disc brooches being typical of ninth century dress styles with smaller ones becoming more popular in the later ninth and tenth centuries. However, since disc brooches were used by both Anglo-Saxon and Scandinavian women they are distinguished by their morphology. Scandinavian brooches were typically domed with a hollow back while Anglo-Saxon brooches were usually flat. Moreover, Anglo-Saxon brooches were worn singly without accompanying accessories.

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Viking Names

Toki

Tóki is either a short form of names in Þórkell or possibly a pet-form of name in Þór- ‘the god’s name Þórr’ with the addition of the suffix -ki. The name is very common in Denmark where it is found in many place-names. It possibly spread to Norway and Sweden from Denmark. It is fairly common in Sweden in the forms Toke and Tuke and in Norway from the eleventh century onwards, but it is very rare in Iceland. In Normandy it is probably found as the surname Tocque and occurs in a number of place-names there. The personal name is also the first element in Tugby, Leicestershire.

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Viking Names

Blesi

The male name Blesi is found in two Swedish runic inscriptions and is also recorded as the name of one of the original settlers of Iceland. It was originally a by-name, meaning ‘blaze, white spot on a horse’s forehead’. Blesi is also the first element in the place-name Bleasby, Nottinghamshire.

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Viking Names

Tola

Tóla is a short form of names such as Þorlaug. It is an East Scandinavian name (Denmark, Sweden) and appears fairly frequently in Denmark. The name is also found in several Swedish runic inscriptions. It is attested in medieval documents from Lincolnshire referencing a woman who lived in Saltfleetby.

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Viking Names

Saxi

Saxi was originally a byname derived from Old Norse noun sax ‘short, one-edged sword’, but possibly in some instances derived from an ethnonym from the name of the Saxons. An original East Scandinavian name, it is fairly common in Sweden and very common in Denmark. The name is rare in Iceland, although it is borne by one individual in the settlement period (c. 870-930). Although common in Eastern Norway, there is only a single instance of the byname Sax is recorded in West Scandinavia in the tenth century. Saxi is found in several place-names in Normandy. It is well-attested in Lincolnshire and Yorkshire although some forms may represent the Continental Germanic male personal name Saxo. Occasionally it is difficult to determine whether the first element in place-names such as Saxby All Saints, Lincolnshire and Saxby, Leicestershire is Saxi or the Scandinavian genitive plural form of an ethnonym: Old English S(e)axe, Old Norse Saxar ‘Saxons’.  

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Viking Names

Gulla

Gulla is recorded in several runic inscriptions in Sweden. There is one attestation of Gulla in the form of Golle in a medieval Lincolnshire document (c. 1218-1219). It is a short form of Old Norse names in Guðl-. 

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Viking Names

Sibbi

Sibbi is originally a short form of the Old Norse male personal  Sigbjǫrn. As an independent name it is common in Sweden and fairly frequent in Denmark, and is recorded in a number of runic inscriptions. Sibbi is potentially the first element in the place-name Sibthorpe, Nottinghamshire.

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Viking Names

Thorfast

Þorfastr is a common male name in the eastern part of the Viking world – it is common in Swedish runic inscriptions and is even found in the inscription on a rune-stone fragment found in Finland, as well as a couple of Danish ones, but it does not occur in any Norwegian or Icelandic texts. It can be found in the runic inscription on the Lincoln comb-case.

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Viking Names

Gaut

Gautr and the related Gauti are short forms of names in Gaut- or -gautr, or an original byname meaning ‘man from Gautland’. This region comprises the provinces now known as Östergötland and Västergötland in southern Sweden, and is the homeland of the Geats in the Old English poem Beowulf. Gautr is recorded in several Swedish and Norwegian runic inscriptions and is also the name of a rune-carver in the Isle of Man. The name appears in two inscriptions there; on the runic cross from Kirk Michael it is (boastfully but erroneously) claimed that ‘Gautr made this and all in Man’.

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Viking Objects

Fragment of an Equal-Armed Brooch (SWYOR-FAFC04)

A fragment of a Viking Age equal-armed brooch found at Harworth Bircotes, Nottinghamshire. This fragment is the boss of the brooch and resembles brooches found at Birka, Sweden. Its decoration consists of a Borre style animal with gripping arms or legs.  This is one of only six Scandinavian, Viking period equal-armed brooches recorded in England. For more information on Scandinavian jewellery in England check out our blog: Brooches, Pendants and Pins: Scandinavian Dress Accessories in England.

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Viking Names

Tofi

The name Tófi is very common in the Viking Age, though mostly in Sweden and Denmark. It forms the first element of the hybrid place-name Toton, Nottinghamshire.

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