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Home > Auctions > 5th March 2024 > Viking Age Silver Shield-Maiden Pendant

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LOT 0398

GBP (£) 1,200 - 1,700
EUR (€) 1,400 - 1,980
USD ($) 1,520 - 2,150

Current bid: £750 (+bp*)
(1 Bid, Reserve met)

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(1 Bid, Reserve met)   |   Current bid: £750
1 1/2 in. (8.08 grams, 40.68 mm).

A female in floor-length robe holding a shield in her right hand and drawn knife in her left, stylised headdress and long plaited band of hair to the rear; pierced lug to the reverse.

Acquired on the UK art market in the 1980s.
Ex property of a Cambridgeshire, UK, gentleman.

See Vang Petersen, P., Valkyrier og Bersærker. Mytologien i Smykkekunsten, in Madsen, P.K. (ed.), Danefæ. Skatte fra den Danske Muld, Copenhagen, 2010; Gardeła, L., ‘Warrior-women’ in Viking Age Scandinavia, A preliminary archaeological study in Analecta Archaeologica Ressoviensia, vol.8, Rzeszów, 2013.

This pendant resembles a find from Galgebakke, Denmark, a silver figure holding a short sword and clutching a shield by the boss (Vang Petersen, item 4). The Galgebakke figure is identified as female on the basis of the elaborate crested hairstyle, and an ankle-length dress with tiny feet beneath. The interpretation usually offered for this figure is that of a skjoldmø or 'shield-maiden', a female who takes up arms in pursuit of vengeance such as the legendary Hervor in Hervarar saga ok Heiðreks. Scholars used to interpret these armed females as valkyries - hand maidens of the god Oðinn - but the idea has been challenged recently (Gardeła, 2013).