Late viking or romanesque horse harness pendant

A pendant or horse harness pendant from the Viking Age found in the Netherlands.

Artefacts wich can be addressed to the Viking Age are extremely rare in the Netherlands. As a collector, I have searched for about 15 years until I stumbled upon someone who had such an item ánd was willing to sell it to me.

This one-off, bronze, pendant was found - so the story goes - during reconstructional work on a park in the city of Deventer, in the Netherlands. App. 40 mm from loop to dragonlike terminal - the loop/hanging is app. 5/5.5 mm size - this pendant is from a design I never came across before. The big 'extra' here is the dragonlike head and tail wich are terminating the pendant on the outside. The even bigger surprise is, that these fragile elements have been preserved so excellent.

The pendant might have functioned as a horse harness pendant, although the overall piece seems a bit fragile in that respect.

Within, we see a four-legged kind of phantasy animal depicted, looking backwards with an almond-shaped eye. At the end of its snout, another 'leg' pops up, wich is the case also on the end of the intertwined tail. The round circle part surrounding the animal is within itself forming a seperate dragonlike animal, wich begins with the dragonlike head outside parting end terminates as the tail near the head. The decoration is to be seen on the forefront of the pendant, the back side hadn't been decorated. The overall execution clearly shows us it was done by a skilled craftsman. This craftsman could as well have lived in Scandinavia and traded in the north of our country where because of this pendant popped up in the soil finally in Deventer, in the Provence of Overijssel. Stylistically, the horse harness pendant can be addressed, according to Steven Ashley, in the style of 12th-century Romanesque art, providing a possible 12th-century date for them. Close parallels known from England can be found in the Portable Antiques Scheme under records




The pendant is in pretty good - complete - condition. Detailled decoration is lacking, apart from some incisions, wich are abraised but still recognisable.

As said, items from the Viking Age are very rare, compared with, per example, England or Scandinavia. In the book Metaalvondsten uit onze bodem/Metal finds from the Netherlands just a handful of items found by metal detectorists over the last 25 years are mentioned. This is to say: items wich have an Scandinavian type of appearance.  The kind of backward looking, openworked animal is depicted also in two brooches from the 10th/11th century on p. 63 in this publication. From a later date - the 13th century - on p. 86, a buckle is depicting a same atmosphere kind of animal wich all parts of the feet, tail and head going around in circle. Finally, a pendant from the 12th - 13th century on p.113 is depicting an animal in the same kind of executional way.

Reference: Leenheer, K. and Lugthart, G. Metaalvondsten uit onze bodem, 2017 - a publication from De Detector Amateur.