The Vikings and their jewellery have arrived in London as part of a new exhibition at the British Museum

A quarter of the treasures on display at Vikings: Life and Legend exhibition are jewels, including the historic Hiddensee Hoard and Hunterston brooch.

10th century gold Hiddensee Hoard featuring filigree pendants, spacers, brooch and neck-ring, probably made in Denmark. Neuendorf/Hiddensee, Rügen, Germany. © Jutta Grudziecki, Kulturhistorisches Museum der Hansestadt Stralsund

By Ase Anderson in London

One of the first pieces visitors see as they walk through the door into the British Museum's new Vikings exhibition is a small but intricate brooch in the form of a Viking ship.

Made from copper alloy, the brooch was found in a female grave in Denmark and dates back to the 9th century. With dragon heads at the fore and aft, shields along the rail and a face at the masthead, this piece sets the scene for a sensational exhibition that features numerous pieces of jewellery from the Viking Age (800-1050 AD).

At the heart of the Vikings: Life and Legend exhibition is a 37m-long warship. Found in 1997 but dating from 1025, it is the longest Viking ship ever discovered. But it is the personal objects on display, including jewellery, amulets and idols, which help paint a more complete picture of how the Vikings saw themselves and their world.

The status that a person living in Viking times might achieve through social position and wealth was greatly enhanced by finely crafted jewellery made of precious metals. Viking men's cloaks were fastened on the shoulder with large brooches, while women used similar, often oval-shaped pieces to fasten their dresses. The women's brooches were often combined with other personal ornaments, such as necklaces with beads of glass, cornelian, rock crystal and silver.

Around 25% of the objects on display are jewels, which are on loan from 24 different institutions alongside exhibits from the British Museum's own collection. Key pieces include the Hiddensee Hoard - a collection of 14 filigree pendants, spacers, brooch and neck ring from the 10th century - and the Hunterston brooch, made from gold, silver and amber and dating from the 8th century. Other must-see items include a gold neck ring on loan from the National Museum of Denmark and a pin with a dragon's head from Germany.

The Vikings were renowned for their love of amber, often using it to create beautiful pieces of intricate jewellery. In celebration of the exhibition, which runs until June 22, the British Museum shops have launched a collection of amber and silver jewellery inspired by the artefacts on display. The reinterpreted pieces include the Viking ship brooch as well as a design based on a silver Penannular brooch with thistle-shaped terminals found in Sweden in the 10th century. There is also a selection of unique necklaces in vintage glass by London-based designer Julie Martick, which replicate the look of original Viking pieces. 

Editor's Pick

The Jewellery Editor is for sale

Help us make the future bright

Since founding The Jewellery Editor in 2010, we have grown our digital magazine to be the number one global source of information and inspiration for fine jewellery and luxury watches.

3,500 articles, 150 videos with over 5 million views and a reach of over 2 million per month on social media later, we have offered unparalleled and highly respected coverage of our sector. However, despite our editorial success, we are financially struggling as an independent publisher.

Entirely funded, owned and run by Christine and Maria in London, we are now looking to sell The Jewellery Editor so that it can continue to grow. As e-commerce becomes a priority in our industry, we believe there is huge potential for engaging editorial content and are seeking a buyer who shares our values and passion so that under their guidance we can give a bright future to the platform and help us grow our business to the next stage.

If you are interested to discuss the above, please contact [email protected]

Alternatively, if you are willing to help, you can donate so that in the meantime, we can continue to publish more interesting content.

Terms and conditions




We use our own and third party cookies to improve your experience and our services. If you continue, we consider that you accept their use. You can get more information on your website at cookies policy.