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Viking Objects

Inscribed Lead Plaque (LCNCC:1996.64.045)

This lead plaque of uncertain function has a cross incised in its centre and a long Latin text in the Roman alphabet. Like the Saltfleetby spindle whorl, this inscription, too, calls on a divine power, in this case Christ. Between them the two inscriptions represent different responses to literacy and religion in the same time period in neighbouring but probably different communities. (Cumberworth is about 15 miles south of Saltfleetby, in an area with many Scandinavian place-names.) This fragmentary inscription begins with a cross and XPI, the sign for Christ, and after a gap in the text ends with ‘he who by the power of the cross redeemed the world from death, shattered hell or threw open heaven’. The object is dated to the late 10th or 11th century on the basis of the similarity of the writing to contemporary manuscripts.

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Viking Names


Gunnvǫr is a common name throughout the Norse world. It is very frequent in Norway and Denmark where it is also found in place-names and in Sweden it is found in several runic inscriptions. In Landnámabók ‘The Book of Settlements’, a Gunnvǫr is the daughter of one of the settlers of Iceland. Additionally, it is found in early Lincolnshire documents (c. 1200) and occurs in Domesday book for Yorkshire. The name also occurs in an inscription on an eleventh-century sundial in St Bartholomew’s Church, Aldbrough, East Yorkshire, together with the male name Ulf.  The second wife of Richard I is referred to as Gonnor/Gunnor/Gunwera in Norman sources and there are other bearers of the name in Normandy. Gunnvǫr is a Old Norse compound name formed from Gunn- from  gunnr, guðr ‘battle’ and –vǫr, the feminine form corresponding to -varr  which is either derived from the adjective varr ‘aware’ or the noun *warjaʀ ‘protector’.  

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Viking Designs

Drawing of the Saltfleetby Spindle Whorl

Drawing of a lead alloy spindle whorl from Saltfleetby, Lincolnshire showing part of the runic inscription. For further information, see the entry for the original item.

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