Viking Key With Four Gripping Beasts
This Viking key is a copy of an original find, now in the National Museum of Denmark, provenance unknown but dated to 9th – early 10th century.
Keys in the Viking Age were a symbol of female authority. The woman, as head of the household, carried the keys to the locks in the house. Such locks were not used on doors, as they were in later centuries, but on strongboxes that held the silver and other items valuable to the household. As an important symbol of a woman’s responsibility and honour, many decorative keys have been found that were worn as jewellery.
These four tiny animals, twisting in their surrounding framework, are an intriguing example of the Viking gripping beast motif. Wouldn’t we love to know what these curious animals meant to the Viking woman who owned this key? Unfortunately their significance is hidden in the passing of the centuries, we will have to be satisfied with speculation - although they do seem to indicate a Viking sense of humour.
LENGTH 58mm (approx. 2 ¼ inches)