:: The Vikings of Bjornstad ::
Denver Museum of Nature & Science
 "Vikings: Beyond the Legend"
Through August 2017
Denver Museum's Web Page

These photos capture some of the largest collection of Viking artifacts ever to visit North America, as displayed in the Denver Museum of Nature & Science. The hundreds of thousand-year-old artifacts show the work of highly skilled craftspeople who used many different materials, including textiles, wood, metal, bone, leather, glass and ceramics. The exhibition includes displays of beautifully crafted weapons and religious iconography, including the earliest known Scandinavian crucifix.

A description of the exhibition by Susan Froyd: "Journey back to the times when Vikings ruled the North Atlantic and sailed the seas in centuries past at Vikings: Beyond the Legend, a globe-trotting exhibit mounted by the Swedish History Museum in Stockholm that will storm the Denver Museum of Nature & Science... But don’t expect to confront the usual stereotypes of plundering, bearded savages in animal skins, hand-hewn armor and horned helmets. Vikings instead pays homage to ancient Norse craftsmanship, culture and mythology, with help from the largest traveling collection of Viking artifacts in the world, 500 objects strong. And it goes big, with full-scale model ships, including the virtual excavation of a longboat that uncovers tools and weapons, examples of traditional clothing and crafts, and an intro to the myths of Odin, Thor and Freyja."

These photos were taken by Una Ragnvaldsdottir and are presented here with her kind permission.  Thanks to her also for the details in some of the captions.

The logo for the Viking exhibit at the Denver Museum of Nature & Science

Vikings: Raiders, traders, explorers, and settlers


Valhalla and Valkyries

These pendants are usually identified as Valkyries


Valkyries greeted the newly fallen heroes with mead

It was a recurring image


...in many styles

Fabric with deer embellishment made of silver wire twisted and attached with silk to silk backing. Deer symbolism is not Norse, but more Finnish or Saami or Baltic in iconography, suggesting that Birka had several cultural influences among the elites buried there.


These orange pendants are carved amber. This is how amber looked like during the Viking period; the clear modern amber has been superheated to make it so transparent.

The pendant at left is a cubb, a volva's magic chair that she sits upon for seiðr, observing and altering the course of destiny through the weaving of its web.


A nice variety of bowls and cauldrons

Clay pots are easily decorated


All shapes and sizes

...and styles


Simple but effective

Extremely simple


More elaborately decorated

A pot pierced for hanging or carrying


What might it have held?

A small pouch/purse made of fur with bronze decorations found in Birka.  Similar pouches have been found in other Norse settlements. Whether Norse or Finnish is unknown but worth researching.


Christianity provided new subjects for ornamentation

Crosses appeared in a multitude of styles.  This one is a cool applique style wire work for attachment to clothes, not worn on a chain as decor.


Silver was used for jewelry or melted down to be used as a medium of exchange

The area now known as Sweden was slower to adopt Christianity than the other Viking homelands


Silver, bronze and gold were all used for metal jewelry

The crucifixion was a common theme - as it was in continental Europe


A hammered bronze bowl

An iron strike-a-light with flint and a comb, cut from ivory or bone.  The bowl is probably an oil lamp with the center post supporting a wick.


Woven silver as decoration for a silk panel, probably used as a belt

Gold trim


Cards used for tablet weaving - and a large spinning whorl

Decorative bits.  Vikings wore their wealth.


A trefoil brooch

Woven cloth with decorative silver tablet weave - which was found on the EDGES of clothes, not appliquéd upon cloth, the important point for placing tablet weave on clothes is that it originally had a protective function, to spare the cloth from fraying.


A reconstructed chest, with an integral lock

Keys and locks were a one-of-a-kind set


Viking ship information

Probably a speculative sail structure.  This woven design would double the thickness of the entire sail.


Runes on bronze

It would be interesting to know in what kind of setting this was placed - and who felt the need to make it in the first place...


An inscription to provide solace

Carefully scribed by its creator


Box brooches and other finely cast jewelry, probably from Gotland

A closer look


An unusual design - probably cast in silver. 

It's interpreted as the goddess Freya, with the giant necklace called Brisingamen that brought about her dishonor.


Interestingly, that looks like a mail shirt

A penannular brooch and a beaded necklace


That's a loom weight in the foreground.  The large object above it is interpreted as a weaving sword; this one is a replica.  The runes represent a love poem:
"Think of me, I think of you! Love me, I love you!"

  ©   For information contact Jack Garrett at info@vikingsofbjornstad.com