Viking 'Openwork' Key
Copper-alloy, 9.55 grams, 55.72 mm. 10th-11th century AD. Viking and Later Anglo-Saxon keys comprised a circular loop developing into a thick shank developing into a headplate. The present example includes the loop complete with two lateral horns, the round-section shank with collar on the upper surface, and the lower part of the head with its quadrangular void, terminal and delicate T-shaped finial. Keys of this type are brittle and easily damaged at the extremities due to the thin metal surrounding the voids; this is a complete example.
The women in a Viking household looked after the most valuable items in the house. In many Viking homes, this would be a large chest or box with an iron lock. The wife was in charge of the key to this chest.
Reference: London Museum Medieval Catalogue 1940, London, 1940 (reprint 1993), plate xxix item 6. Extremely fine condition.
Provenance: found near Norwich, Norfolk, England.
Book online How people lived in Viking Times by Colin Hynson
A very big chest excavated from the Oseberg ship
A video of how people are still challenged in making a viking chest nowadays can be seen here: