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Home > Auctions > 1st December 2015 > Viking 'Valkyrie' Pendant

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LOT 0799

Sold for (Inc. bp): £4,464

1" (2.31 grams, 23mm).

A flat-section silver plaque depicting a standing female in profile dressed in a long hatched robe, one hand raised touching a necklace of circular beads, long hair stylised in a 'knot' hairstyle, a semicircular loop to the reverse.

Property of a professional collector. Supplied with a positive X-Ray Fluorescence metal analysis certificate.

Accompanied by an Art Loss Register certificate.

Cf. Graham-Campbell, J. Viking Art, London, 2013, items 32-34; Arbman, H. Birka I: Die Gräber, Uppsala, 1940, plate 92, items 8 and 10; Swedish History Museum, items 108915-6.

These types of small pendant were found mostly in Sweden, and the majority of them depict richly dressed and adorned females. The position of the loop and their small size indicate that they were sewn on clothes and probably worn as personal amulets. They are usually called 'valkyries', because of the similar hairstyle and clothes of female 'cup-bearers' depicted on runestones, welcoming a fallen warrior or god Odin into Valhalla. Similar iconography can be seen on small golden sheets known as gullgubber. However, some researchers have pointed out that they may more likely represent a goddess of plenty or fertility. The most probable option is the goddess Freyja, who was known as the powerful mistress of magic, the patroness of love and fertility. The other indicator is her close connection to the valkyries, as in the poem Grimnismál where she is said to receive half of the fallen warriors and welcome them in her meadow Folkvang. A large necklace, which is a prominent feature on these figures, may represent her famous necklace Brísingamen, manufactured by dwarves, which was later stolen from her by Loki and retrieved by Heimdall.