A rare Viking “Thor’s hammer” pendant* possibly 1000 years old has been found on a farm in Iceland.
A local man directed archaeologists to the previously unexplored site in Þjórsárdalur, southern Iceland.
The pendant, also called an amulet, which would have been worn around the neck on a string, perhaps made of leather, is the first sandstone “Thor’s hammer” discovered in Iceland. It is about the size of a coin and carved from sandstone.
The archaeologists also found a “whet”, which is used for sharpening blades, an iron pick and a buckle, according to Iceland Magazine.
WHO WERE THE VIKINGS?
The Vikings were the people who came from the cold northern hemisphere region that is now Scandinavia — modern-day Denmark, Sweden and Norway — from about the year 700 to 1100. They were longboat sailors who visited other lands such as Iceland, modern-day UK and Ireland.
Some Vikings were peaceful farmers who grew crops and kept animals. It is thought the site where the artefacts were found was once a Viking farm.
There was also a strong tradition of beautiful metal and wood craft in Viking culture.
VIDEO: Norwegian craftsmen re-enact woodworking the Viking way
Other Vikings were fearsome warriors who raided other settlements, stealing things to take home. Vikings spoke a language called Old Norse and in this language, Viking means pirate.
There was a huge Viking invasion of the land that is now the UK in the year 865. Instead of just raiding, this time the Vikings wanted the land for themselves. English armies battled the Vikings but by 874 almost all of England and Wales and part of Scotland was lost, except for one area in the west.
Eventually, the English King Alfred did a deal with the Vikings and they drew a border, with the British living mostly in the west and the Vikings settling mostly in the east. The Viking land was called Danelaw (because the Vikings were thought of as Danish). The city of York (Jorvik in Viking language), was the capital.
Names of cities and villages in the UK today that end in -by, -thorpe or -ay are likely to be originally Viking settlements.
WHO WAS THOR?
Vikings were pagans*. Ancient pagans believed there were lots of gods and goddesses with supernatural powers.
Thor was one of the most important Norse* gods. Vikings believed Thor was the god of the sky, weather and thunder. He used a big hammer, which was called Mjolnir, for fighting giants. Ancient Greeks also believed in Thor.
A Thor’s hammer worn around the neck as a pendant in Viking times could have been something like a Christian wearing a cross necklace.
MORE VIKING FINDS
- A silver “Thor’s hammer” was found earlier this year in an incredible treasure trove on the island of Ruegen in the Baltic Sea, according to the German newspaper Ostsee-Zeitung. There were hundreds of silver coins, rings, pearls and bracelets thought to be 1000 years old.
- In Sweden in July, an 8-year-old girl discovered a 1,500-year-old Viking sword in a lake.
- Archaeologists near Oslo, Norway used radar to discover a Viking longboat 50cm below the ground in a burial mound. They believe the boat could have been used as a coffin to bury someone in after they died.
- Last year, an incredibly well-preserved Viking sword was found by a reindeer hunter on a remote mountain in southern Norway.
- pendant: object worn around the neck on a chain or string
- pagans: collective name for people who follow a religion other than Christianity, Islam, Hinduism, Judaism, Sikhism or the tradition of Buddhism.
- Norse: relating to the people who lived in modern-day Scandinavia and spoke Old Norse
LISTEN TO THIS STORY
- How big is the hammer and what is it made of?
- What is a whet?
- What does Viking mean in the Old Norse language?
- What was the Viking capital in England? What did the Vikings call it?
- What did the girl find in the lake?
1. Mind map
Use the information in the article to create a Mind Map about Vikings. A Mind Map is a diagram used to link information known about a particular topic or theme.
Begin with the word VIKINGS in the centre of your page (you may circle this if you wish). From there, draw lines off at different angles and directions and add information you know (or can assume) about Vikings. For example — what do you know about their beliefs, their way of life, what they ate?
You may like to continue your research and find out more about Vikings to add to your Mind Map.
Time: Allow 20 minutes
Curriculum links: English, The Humanities — History
Imagine you were the person who found the pendant. Write a letter to the original owner telling them where you found it (what the area is called now), how you think it came to be there, what you know about the pendant and what it tells you about Viking life. Also ask the owner anything else you would like to know about their life. You might like to explain a little about your life and how it is vastly different from what they would have experienced.
Time: Allow 30 minutes
Curriculum links: English, The Humanities — History
Extra Resources: Optional — further information about Vikings.
With a partner see if you can you identify all the doing words/verbs in this text. Highlight them in yellow and then make a list of them all down your page. Now see if you and your partner can come up with a synonym for the chosen verb. Make sure it still makes sense in the context it was taken from.
Try to replace some of the original verbs with your synonyms and discuss if any are better and why.
HAVE YOUR SAY: Have you ever found buried treasure? What would you like to uncover?
Use full sentences to explain your thinking. No one-word answers.