Transforming Society
Room 4

Box Brooch
Museum of National Antiquities, Stockholm
10654
Photo:
Christer Ahlin
Gotlandic Box Brooch

The Viking Age was a time of transition and upheaval in Scandinavia. Viking raiders returned to their homes with foreign slaves, new materials, and revolutionary ideas. Viking chieftains often converted to Christianity as a condition of peace agreements.

In the process, Norsemen changed -- sometimes violently -- not only the politics of those they met but also their own culture. In Scandinavia, Christianity began to replace traditional pagan religion, small farm production gave way to organized craft centers in places like York and Birka, and local areas gradually lost sovereignty to national kings. By the early 12th century, Scandinavian had become integrated into medieval, Christian European society, and descendants of Vikings who had settled abroad had little in common with their pagan ancestors.

Box Brooch
This gold and silver-plated bronze brooch would have been worn by a woman from Gotland, off the coast of Sweden. Made in a style seen nowhere else in Scandinavia, it would have been a sure sign to all of her ethnic identity, and her high social status.

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Birka, Uppland, Sweden
Birka, Uppland, Sweden
Photo: Jan Normann, RAA


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