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Viking Objects

Reproduction Viking Age Sword

A reproduction of the sword found in Grave 511 at Repton. The hilt is made of wood laths wrapped in tabby weave textile strips. The scabbard is made of two wooden laths, lined with trimmed sheep fleece, and covered in an oak-stained, stitched, calf-leather cover. The strap slide is copper alloy and inserted under the leather. The sword belt shown with the scabbard is based on the sword belt from Grave 511 at Repton.

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Viking Objects

Reproduction Square Mammen Brooch

This reproduction brooch is based on a small number of Mammen-style brooches found in England. Three rectangular brooches of this type are known from Linwood, Lincolnshire, West Stow Heath, Suffolk, and Bergh Apton, Norfolk, with further examples found in Cambridgeshire and East Anglia in 2015 and 2016. It is a type which has Carolingian-inspired shapes and Scandinavian decoration, which seem to have been produced in the Danelaw, and was an accessory for women who wore Scandinavian 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 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 Designs

Drawing of the Thorfast Comb Case

A bone comb case with a runic inscription which reads ‘Thorfast made a good comb’. It is unknown whether the runes were inscribed by Thorfast himself as advertising, or whether the owner inscribed them to remind them where to go for another good comb if they needed one.

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Viking Objects

Reproduction Bone Comb with Runic Inscription

A bone comb with a case with a runic inscription on it. The inscription reads, in translation, “Thorfast made a good comb.” The Vikings had a reputation for looking after their personal hygiene. Combs were an important part of that process, not just for combing your hair but also for removing nits and lice.

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Viking Objects

Reproduction Hammer-shaped Pendant

A gold hammer-shaped pendant, popularly called a Thor’s hammer pendant, from Spilsby, Lincolnshire. These may have been worn to show devotion to the god Thor, or to secure the god’s protection, although there is little evidence to support this interpretation. Pendants like this have been found made of lead, copper alloy, silver and gold, showing that many different strata of society could have worn them.

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Viking Names

Granby

Granby, in the Bingham Wapentake of Nottinghamshire, comes from the Old Norse male personal name Gráni and the Old Norse element by ‘farmstead, village’. It is of interest that a document from c. 1200 records that there was a Granehou nearby and it is possible that this was the burial-mound (Old Norse haugr) of the same Gráni who gave his name to the village. Unfortunately, no such mound can be identified today.

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Viking Names

Somerby

Somerby, in the Yarborough Wapentake of Lincolnshire, probably comes from the Old Norse male personal name or byname Sumarliði and the Old Norse element by ‘farm, settlement’. The original byname means ‘the summer traveller’ and is recorded six times in Lincolnshire (all in Lindsey) in the Domesday Book. The spellings in Domesday parallel that of the place-name. Probably identical in origin is Somerby in Leicestershire. Alternatively, the name has been suggested to come from the Scandinavian compound sumar-hlíðar ‘summer slopes’, referring to pastures only used in the summers. 

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Viking Objects

Reproduction Glass Kingpiece

This glass kingpiece is a reproduction based on a set found in grave 750 at the Viking Age settlement of Birka, Sweden. This piece would have been used to play hnefatafl, a board game which is known to have been played in Scandinavia in the Viking Age.

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Viking Names

Sloothby

Sloothby, in the Calcewath Wapentake of Lincolnshire, is a complicated name. There are multiple possibilities for the first element of the place-name. The second element is the Old Norse element by ‘a farmstead, a village’. One suggestion is that the first element is the Old Norse byname Slóði ‘the lazy one’; however, this name is not found independently in Lincolnshire and is uncommon in Scandinavia.  Another alternative is that the first element could be slóði used as a river-name, referring to a slow-moving sluggish stream. Sloothby is in the fens and a stream runs by. Furthermore, the first element could be the Old Norse element slóð ‘a track, trail’, perhaps referring to a track through the fens.  Sloothby is a joint parish with Willoughby.

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Viking Names

Keelby

Keelby, in the Yarborough Wapentake of Lincolnshire, is a Old Norse compound coming from kjǫlr ‘a keel, a ridge (of hills)’ and by ‘farmstead, village’. The village is situated on a rising piece of ground between 15 and 20 metre contours (one small patch above 20 metres). This forms a distinct elongated ‘ridge’ running south-east-north-west.

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