Gold medallions, medals and bracts
Analysing the golden finds and the motifs we get a picture of their world order. The method ties the ideas to physical evidence and that is better than speculating in their thinking or listening to our enemies telling that our ancestors were barbarians
Golden medallions, golden bracts, Roman medallion, Eril gold, almandines, green enamel, labarum, entwined strings, filigree and granulate, Olbia, Slettner, knigthhood, ladyRomans and Erils |The civilised circus, At Elbe 5 AD, Wolves and bears, What happened 14 AD, Nero friend of Germans, Erils as legionaries, Culture and imperialism, Origin of runes, Early rune texts, Roman emperors Golden Age of Erils | Neck-ring, The Trinity, Gallehus horns, Angel-Saxons, Anglo-Saxon ideas,
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The essays are made many files because of the many pictures. That makes it faster to open a file. It could be confusing when there are several files on the same topic as this on medallions, medals and bracts with a head. Medallions are made for women I think, while the golden medal originally was given for honour by the Roman emperor. In Scandinavia they copied that as two-sided medal with a head. Later they invented the one-sided golden bract with a head. The other category is the Sun- rider and the third is the mythic bracts. Here I am analysing the ideas in suitable categories. For conventional categories see underThe Head.
Roman medallionwith Caesar Valens 364 - 378 AD
There are a lot of mysteries about the Eril gold. Some of it will be cleared out when we bit for bit look at it, other questions maybe unsolved even in future. The biggest question is why did they gather the gold? We have several finds of unmanufactured gold in Sweden such as 12, kilos in East Sweden and 7,1 kilos in West Gautland. How did they get it all? Is it the gold from when they plundered the temples in Ephesos in 267 AD?
Another big part is the neck-rings that like the deposit must have been gathered for a ritual community. Only a smaller part were used for golden items like thousand bracts each around 5 grams = 5 kilos. Then we have a minor part of jewellery found in graves. The hoard finds are mostly from Denmark and Norway.
It is obvious that part of the gold was earned in the Roman Empire where the Eril legionaries preferred pay in gold. At the same time they also brought some of the Roman culture and handicraft to Scandinavia. Some of the medallions are simply copies of Roman work. The heydays of this golden age are so short that it is hard to make any chronology. Here the most interesting is the ideas behind.
To this medallion the Roman goldsmith have use a golden coin in the middle and added the border withalmandines and green enamel that were great fashion in the entire Europe at the time
In the saga they tell that the "heroes" always brought home the gold and earnings and gave to the Lady of House. She then gave some gift to the man. In grave finds we see that women often have a couple of medallions as a gift and some have it as a Charon's mint. We have the custom of giving the fiancée some gift.
Maybe they also gave "mund" that was the security if they got a child before they were married or the man died before marriage. Behind many customs and laws is intricate thinking since social security was involved.
Maybe we have drawn too many conclusions from a few bogs that make us believe that they offered gold to Morrigan. The bog normally takes the gift forever and we can also say that what we give is taken out of circulation. We also take out of circulation as for instance New York city that depose 27 000 kilos every day on a final garbage place. When we look at it some of the items "could be used gain".
The goldsmiths in Gunheim Telemark Norway made this medallion by using a coin and experimented with granulate of gold.
It is difficult to see in the picture how fine work it is. The outer and inner ring of dots are connected with a spiral ending in two turns around the dot. On the reverse is a soldier with a shield. At the original coin he holds a labarum. That is a standard with the letters PX = CHI RO for Christ's soldier. For some reason the maker or owner did not want the labarum.
There were a lot of bogs those days and they understood that refuse had to be put away far from the living place. I have no statistics of it but I think that very little of the gold was really meant for the bog. Then we can speculate in a few finds when gold has been taken out of circulation.
It would have been hard to hide gold if it was a robber and even the owner had difficulties. If it were ritual gold they naturally did not want that other should use it, since the cultural value lies in how long and to what some ritual piece have been used.
Roman goldsmiths made even advanced jewellery and that is always a question about wealth and people that can afford that much work is done.
Under a few generation as it seems the Erils developed a great skill as goldsmiths. They learnt even gilding bronze as brooches, clasps, buckles and such things for the dress and just as private adorns. Maybe they learnt using almandines and enamel in Rome and granulating and filigree job in Olbia from the Greeks.
Some of the medals can be import and some of the items are copies. That applies especially to medallions. There are 6 finds of clear import and the oldest is from the time of Constantine the Great 306 - 337 AD. Mackeprangs's list contends also 17 finds of imitations. There are also a few finds of coins used as medallions from the middle of 5th century.
This should be compared to the total finds of nearly 1000 bracts. The one-sided bracts seem to be a Nordic invention and the motifs are almost purely Scandinavian. Even the brooches and buckles are clearly Scandinavian design but it was fashion all over Europe.
It is difficult to compare since we have a total collection of Scandinavian medallions and bracts and then we see the entire variety of skill. While as usual we are presented only the best items from south. We do the same thing when we introduce our treasures to the world. Yet here it is only the ideas we are interested of. But we need to see from were they got the ideas and it is always good to use references. Then we place our culture in the world.
This jewel is from Horsens Danmark
We have a collection but we do not know how much were used or in circulation. So the direct models and influence may have gone. As we see there is no great difference between Roman coins used in Rome as medallions and those we find in Scandinavia. However they are few.
Some of the golden bracts may have been made by a stamp as we see in the Maglemose find contending four identical bracts. But we have also finds that at first looks to be similar, but under the magnifier there are small differences. Maybe some are made by punching or embossing the figures from the back. They are of size from around 2 cm to 8 cm as the common size, with a few very big. The normal weight is around 5 grams, but some are very thin and maybe they made them just for one occasion or the grave.
Entwined strings, filigree and granulateare the real masterwork
They say that no goldsmith have the eyes that would stand working with these fine things even with magnifying devices. Maybe they had magnifiers and surely they needed a big workshop for bigger work like the neck-rings. Such technique must have been developed during many generation. The only common source we can think of is the Greeks in Olbia near Odessa Russia.
Naturally there were goldsmiths even in Greece, but in Olbia they produced for the Schytians that got gold from Ural. The Scandinavians have maybe traded there before known times. We know that the Erils were there after 260 AD and years later they plundered Ephesos and other temples in the Aegean World
This is a detail from a Schytian masterpiece surely produced in Olbia by Greeks.
The trade or influence from the Aegean World began latest in Bronze Age as we see on Bornholm that they were skilled in making bronze plate. There is also rock-carvings showing how to catch the octopus with the Mediterranean method.
The technique in metallurgy and jewellery had to be learnt from others. Then there are several possibilities. The direct influence is studies in Greece or that masters settled in Scandinavia. The indirect methods are import or that items are made by order and brought to Scandinavia. For the items in pure Scandinavian style we can expect Scandinavian masters since it takes much knowledge to introduce the ideas of a culture.
To this master piece belongs also earrings in the same style with spirals and ram horns in granulate all over the space.
As example of high sill in handicraft this must be the ultimate find. It is priceless when we see the pattern of granulate. It is from the gaard/estate Slettner Austfold Norway and the find from 1864 contended a dozen golden bracts, gold in pieces, female golden items and a golden mouthpiece to a sword sheath together 460 grams. It need not be after a pair since even women sometimes are found with sword.
We do not know about the status of the woman. Still I remember it from my childhood and at least in farmer's house she was the Lady of House. At Zealand they said "the other of two" and meant horses drawing the chariot.
Among nobility we know that with knighthood and expensive horses and weapons in medieval times they wanted to restrict the status of woman. This means that they got only 1/3 of inheritance. However for instance on Dal there are an example from 17th century that farmers want to share equally. In towns they were equal. Part of the idea was to keep the farm intact and not split it up. Later the State wanted as many taxpayers as possible and then it was time for splitting the farms in smaller units.
We do not know if the Roman Laws influenced at least some of the nobility. However it seems that it is always different in families. In some homes the Lady rules and in other the Man himself. In farming it is natural with shared work after the kind of work. The word "lady" meant originally "milkmaid".
The upper classes wants to keep their ladies with children and in kitchen in the days and as a lady in the nights. Working class women they want to be 2/3 man and she should rather not give birth, since that part of life give cost and extra job. That is a fact even today Friday, 13 October 2000.