Blog April 24th 2015

Is It Viking ? The familiar and ever returning question among Viking-Age artefacts collectors.

This week's blog - from yours truly himself this time - is putting the spot on the among Viking-Age artefacts collectors ever thrilling, amusing and tantalizing question when shown an artefact they cannot address: 'Is It Real ?'

In fact dear Viking-Age artefacts belovers, one could write once a week a blog like this. But I will restrict myself to this weeks Mystery Object or described in other words: Loch Ness being bited by a cat like animal and biting it back.

Let us amuse ourselves, and at last get tantalized...

what could it be ?

One fine day in the beginning of Spring, a good friend of mine on the other side of the ocean, sended me diverse pictures of this by him called 'brooch'. Of course the kind of interlace triggered me to define this artistically vikingishwise as 'Late Viking', but I couldn't put my hand on it..

The object, being found in England was rather too sharp in detail and execution to be really from the Viking Age, as many items found there suffers and suffered from the bad soil condition and debased metal quality used in Anglo-Scandinavian areas involved. The crispiness of the piece I found remarkable, and made me place it somewhat further in the Middle Ages.

After a day or two dubbing I came with the definition: 'Late Urnes transverse Romanesque Style', 1150 - 1250 (more to 1250 than to 1150 A.D.) where James Graham-Campbell when consulted seemed to agree on. But the ever remaining question popped up..

"Where can I find a reference, is there a similar artefact to be found in literature ?"

Now: not always is this the case, and in defining an artefact as being Viking-Age one has to have the knowledge how an Viking-Age artefact should look like.

Sometimes the artefact is representing one of the distinct Viking art styles (like Borre, Urnes etc.). Sometimes it doesn't, though one can define the distinct vikingness of the execution of the piece nevertheless.

The biting and interlacing curling of animals kan be found in Romanesque churches, like the one I have visited in Münster, Germany last winter. These (phantasy) animals are biting into plant tendrils, or themselves. But always one direction, without being bitten backwards.. like the piece in this week's blog involved.

Romaesque stone panel in church Munster
Romaesque stone panel in church Munster

Then the idea popped up, after consulting my 'Ring of Expertise' (wich most of them rejecting the idea that this was viking), to put a call on Facebook on diverse metal detecting forums in Holland.

Now, and this is very dissatisfying, in Holland there seems to be very little or no people heavily experted on Viking-Age objects on social media or otherwise. So, after the good laughter and jokes around, someone even came up (very firmly) stating that this was a 'Victorian age snake brooch'.

As I was very surprised by this firmly addressed statement, I googled 'Victorian snake brooches' and simultaniously consulted Martijn Akkerman, a in Holland well known jewellry specialist from the tv-programme 'Tussen Kunst en Kitsch' (our own 'Antiques Road Show' in Holland).

The 'Victorian snake brooches' turned out to be an absolutely no go.

Being eloborate, in shiny silver and gold, often set with garnments and more or less precious stones, the snake and cat brooch just casted in bronze was a world away from this..

See link

Then I received the reply from Martijn Akkerman

'The mount absolutely doesn't has its origin in the 19th century en cannot be compared with the type of snakes casted on jewellry from that period of time. My first impression is of an earlier time, and possibly indeed Viking-Age. In my opnion, a 19th century age of the piece can be forgotten, wich might make it a little easier determing it'.

So, my dear beloved Viking-Age crazy researchers, collectors and lovers.. where does this all lead to ?

As always: Mystery. Some mystery, wich we cannot live without I guess. The answer lying in the dark Mist of Evermore. Or is it 'Battle of Evermore' ?

As it is..

If any thoughts on this piece of art (wich, old or newer, I think it is) please be invited to let me know !

Yours truly,

Thomas Kamphuis, April 24th 2015.

Link to blog April 5th 2015.