In the summer of 2016, a man with a metal detector discovered a particularly well-preserved object in a field in Norway. The 1200-year-old bronze ornament, a fitting from a horse harness, was most certainly of Celtic origins. Which begs the question how did an Irish do-dad end up in a faraway field in Norway?

Researchers surmise that the piece of harness was absconded during a Viking raid from the 9th century. The Vikings who returned from these dangerous journeys often gave stolen objects as gifts to family members who waited for them at home.

“A wife in Mid-Norway probably received the fitting as a gift from a family member who took part in raids to Ireland or Great Britain,” explained Aina Margrethe Heen Pettersen, a doctoral student at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology’s Department of Historical Studies.

Similar finds discovered in Norway have been found in women’s graves of the same era. Decorative harness fittings were turned into jewelry and worn as brooches, pendants or belt fittings. Viking women were typically buried with grave gifts such as jewelry, a knife and a spinning wheel.


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