Viking Key with Gripping Beast
In the Viking Age the woman held authority over the household, symbolised by her carrying of the key. A gripping beast is a motif of early Viking art and various examples of a key with a gripping beast have been found.
The keys to all the locks in a household were held by the mistress of the house. To celebrate her authority, some of these viking keys were decorated, making them more like pieces of valued jewellery, and would have been worn hanging from a brooch or belt.
The gripping beast is a curious motif that thrived in the 9th and 10th centuries, a part of the Borre style of Viking art, showing a spirited, sometimes humourous animal that grips itself and anything else around it.
This key is my own design. I have used the particular details of the gripping beasts on the Lisbjerg brooches from Jutland, who are shown cheerfully throttling themselves.
We can get an interesting glimpse of the Viking sense of humour.