top of page

Eastern Scandinavia / Baltic, Early 2nd Millenium AD

A very large gold ring formed of six interwoven bands that taper into thinner, more solid section of gold. The surface of the ring is smooth, with minimal nicks or damage, rare on an item of such a large size. The number of bands used on the bezel of the ring creates a dense mesh of intertwined knots that some believe is evocative of the World Serpent, Jörmungandr.


According to legend, Jörmungandr was one of the three children of Loki and the giantess Angrboda, along with Hel and Fenrir. Odin tossed him into the ocean as a child and it was said that he grew so large that he could encircle all of Midgard (The Human Realm). The World Serpent was famous for his rivalry with Thor, the god of thunder, and this rivalry is prominent in Viking mythology. The two are destined to kill each other during Ragnarök, the Viking apocalypse.


Aside from their economic, social, and religious functions, Wendt has argued that finger rings such as this example were laden with added socio-political significance in the Late Viking retinue system, being described in Old Norse texts as gifts by the ruler to his men / his retainers. For a similar example, see: The British Museum, Museum number: 1905,1108.1


Provenance: Private Scottish collection, L.T., formed since the 1990s. Please note that this item has been studied and assessed by experts at the Jorvik Viking Museum, York.


For additional information see: Wendt, A., 2008. “Viking Age Gold Rings and the Question of “Gefolgschaft”.” Lund Archaeological Review 13-14 (2007-2005). 75-90.


Lund-Hansen, U., 2001. “Gold Rings-Symbols of Sex and Rank.” In Magnus, B. (ed.), Roman Gold and the Development of the Early Germanic Kingdoms. Aspects of technical, socio-political, socio-economic, artistic and intellectual development A.D. 1-550. Stockholm.


  • Dimensions

    D: 32mm / UK Size: V ; 13.42g

bottom of page