A Celtic Horse Harness Became a Coveted Brooch for a Norwegian Viking Woman

Real History |

Bronze brooches are apparently buried as status symbols? Or at least this was the case for a particular one that was found in the grave of a Viking woman. Following a proper analysis of the artifact, researchers concluded it was a 9th century ornament that was originally a Celtic horse harness and was likely stolen by Vikings during the raids in Ireland.

The history of the Vikings' presence in Ireland dates back to the end of the 8th century, when many arrived out of necessity to discover new territory. There had been a great deal of pressure placed upon land in Scandinavia forcing many warriors and nobles to head South, and West. The first recorded Viking raid of Ireland occurred in 795, and was followed by several small, subsequent raids over the next two decades.

They were significant enough in scope to disrupt Irish culture in irreparable ways. Vikings plundered and pillaged sacred religious institutions, homes, and entire towns. By 821, they were beginning to establish fortified encampments, or longports, along the Irish ocean. During the winter months they refused to abandon them in favor of a return to their native Scandinavia or British bases.

Although the Vikings were forced out of Dublin, Ireland in 902, they inadvertently spread Irish culture abroad to other areas throughout Europe. This includes their very own Norway.

When Viking men would return home following a successful stay in Ireland, they gave their wives celebratory gifts; hence, this bronze brooch. It contains traces of gold on its surface indicating it was formerly covered in the substance.

The Vikings cared little for the welfare of the Irish people as they continued to dominant the land, founding several coastal towns in places like Cork, Waterford, Wexford, and Limerick in the west.

In 919, Dublin was secured for the Norse and kinsman Gofraid assumed control as the city's ruler. Although during his term there were signs that the Norse would be a significantly more mellow version of the Vikings; for example, during a raid in 921 Gofraid wanted to "spare the prayerhouses... and the sick from destruction."

It would take another 60 plus years, but Dublin would finally be won back at the battle of Tara. The fighting would continue however, even though the enemies changed many times over the years. This forgotten Celtic horse harness turned bronze brooch encapsulates one particular era in Ireland's long and arduous history, one that they wish they could forget. Doesn't appear that's going to happen anytime soon.