One of the items occasionally found in Norse graves are 1 or more beads on a silver wire ring, as a pendant, presumably dangling off the festoons hung between the brooches. The Swedish word for this appears to be “pärlhänge.” A potential Norwegian synonym is “perleanheng”. (There are a few rare gold wire examples, but silver is most common.)

There are several types. I am not aware (as yet) of any official typology. I would happily update this post with new information.

  1. closeup of creating the parlhang type 1One type, which seems to be most common in museum collections, has one end of the wire going up, making a couple of wraps for a suspension loop, and then coming back down to wrap around the opposite wire, while the opposite wire wraps around the first. This closeup is from a “Vikingatida Pärlhängen. Silvertrådens form och tillverkning.” by Sebastian K. T. S. Wärmländer & Linda Wåhlander (in Swedish) focusing on the production of the patterned wire normally used in these pendants.
  2. Rus ring pendant blue glass beadA simple ring type has the ends of the wire wrapped around each other, and no attempt to create a suspension loop. This image is from Viking Age Gold from Old Rus’ by Natalia Eniosova. There are similarities to Anglo-Saxon bead pendants.
  3. Another type ends the wire in spirals that the bead string goes through. The Hon hoard in Norway, includes a classic, and often photographed example of this type. Thanks to Konstantia for her tutorial about how to create this type.Hon horde pendant
  4. birka 557 silver beadYet another type has two separate suspension loops, and presumably, space for a bead nestled between the two loops. Each wire creates one of the two suspension loops, but the one on the opposite side of center. This example is from Birka 557 from the Historiska Museet in Sweden.

I’ve started collecting examples on my Pärlhänge Pinterest board, preferably from the museums, and created sections for each type. I will improve my curation of those pins over time, to cull out non-museum links as I find better images.

For convenience, I’ve created a pinterest board of Viking Bead Shopping Options. These pins are by no means the entirety of possible good matches for the beads of the period, just some available ones.  As many of the pendants of this type were made with a patterned wire, sourcing that will be important.

More information needs to be uncovered about the sizes of the various beads, as well as frequency, and more exact grave dating. (This information may be available, but not readily apparent on the Swedish & Norwegian language museum websites.)

I’d also like to thank the folks on Scholarly Discussion on Viking Age Clothing for helping me with the language, and pointing me toward sources. It is important to network with others with the same focused obsessions.

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