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Viking Fibulas and Brooches for Everyone!

Like everything we offer at Viking Heritage, our Viking fibulas and brooches are finely crafted by hand. That's why each piece in our store is unique! Shiny, these accessories are a must-have for any Viking culture enthusiast!

Our store's selection will satisfy those who prefer simple models. For those who prefer a unique design featuring animals from Norse mythology, our products will suit you perfectly. Add a unique touch to your outfits! The pin that makes up these items allows for secure fastening.

Made from durable materials like bronze or silver, our brooches are suitable for all types of fabric (linen, wool, cotton, etc.), without damaging them! A bit heavy, you might say? Our expertise in manufacturing Viking jewelry allows us to offer lightweight accessories! The fibulas and brooches are no exception.

The Fibula: A Very Ancient Accessory

Etruscan Funeral Fibula
Etruscan Funeral Fibula Source

 

Brooches or fibulas have been worn by humanity for quite some time. Along with rings, they are arguably the most popular jewelry of ancient civilizations around our planet. Worn on the front and very visible, they can be the vector of all kinds of original creations.

In the 7th century BC, the Etruscans, a people from central Italy, were the first to use the brooch. It was then used to fasten clothes but could also simply decorate an outfit. The oldest fibula has a certain fame.

The Fibula of Préneste is the oldest known brooch, written in Latin, found in the Latium region, the capital region of Rome. Preserved at the National Museum of Prehistory and Ethnography Luigi Pigorini, it dates back to the 7th century BC. This jewel was discovered in 1887, measures 11.7 cm, and bears the inscription: "Manios made me for Numerius."

This part of Italy was truly the cradle of the brooch as many fibulas have been discovered in the provinces of Tuscany, Latium, and Campania, between the 8th and 6th centuries BC.

At that time, the object was indicative of an advancement in clothing wear. Gone were the knots or simple needle, which could then easily be lost. Originally, the brooch was made of bronze. Artisans used the so-called lost wax process. It is a precision casting method that allows for a metal sculpture to be obtained from a wax model that will be eliminated by heating during the operation. The piece is then manufactured with great precision.

Not all artisans necessarily mastered this process. For example, the Etruscan brooch from Chiusi dating from -630, bears the inscription "I am the fibula of Arath Velavesna, Mamurke Tursikina gave me to me." It is easy to assume that this Mamurke Tursikina was none other than the manufacturer. Fibulas could also bear inscriptions of property and manufacturing marks. A sort of Copyright before its time. For the curious, it is possible to see this jewel at the Louvre Museum.

The technique of boiler-making-hammering a metal bar alternated with annealing phases could also be used.

But ultimately, how is a fibula formed?

The Composition of a Fibula

What we call a fibula in English is composed of several parts. First, there is the body. Depending on the era and culture, it could be flat, square, oval, round, or in the shape of a half-circle. This is the essential and decorated part of the object, also called the bow.

The part that allows the brooch to be attached is, of course, the pin or the spike. It may be attached to the body of the fibula, or completely independent.

To connect the two parts described just before, a link is necessary. Two options are then possible. The first consists of a simple hinge. But the clasp may also be connected by a spring. It can be unilateral, winding in one direction (the oldest form) or bilateral. In this case, the spring is shorter, turned 1 or 2 times, or longer, up to 10 cm.

At the top of the pin, a pin, which is nothing more than an axis, passes through a hole and the two parts connect.

Types of Fibulas

Depending on the historical period, the types of fibulas varied, by their characteristics and their compositions. During the Bronze Age, there were thus:

  • The Haslau. This fibula consists of 2 pieces rolled into a spiral, which are attached together, thus resembling a pair of glasses.
  • The Villanova serpentine. The earliest phase of the Etruscan civilization had created variations of the bow fibula. It starts with a semi-circular shape at its head and then bends at a right angle. Knots often decorated it.
  • The Villanova leech. Here, the bow presents a bulge giving a leech-like appearance to the brooch.

Many models then appeared during the Iron Age.

  • Marzabotto.
  • Duchkov.
  • Münsingen.
  • Mötschwil.
  • Nauheim.
  • Tène: with human faces and fantastic animals.
  • Alésia: formed with a hinge closure, the flat bow is triangular in shape.

Antiquity also witnessed the creation of many types of brooches:

  • In the 1st century AD, they were very widespread. The bow is semi-circular and has a fairly short foot.
  • Langton down.
  • Peacock tail fibulas.
  • Nertomartus.
  • Cruciform. Nicknamed "onion head fibula," this brooch has a massive bow and a wide and straight foot.
  • Omega.
  • Krâftig Profilierte. At the end of the 1st century, these fibulas appeared, composed of a wide bilateral spring and a large head.

Finally, other types of brooches appeared during the Early Middle Ages.

  • Merovingian.
  • Medieval ring.
  • Zoomorphic, representing animals.
  • This eagle motif, very popular, is also part of the zoomorphs.
  • Crossbow. It is a fibula closure system with an equal number of wire windings on either side of the bow.

Viking Fibulas and Brooches

Viking Fibula and Brooch

This type of jewelry has made its way through history and takes us to the Nordic lands. Vikings are known as fearsome warriors and relentless raiders. It is probably thanks to these raids that fibulas appeared in their territory. But not only that. Vikings also loved beautiful things, and jewelry was an integral part of their culture.

It is therefore no surprise to see the Scandinavian people wearing fibulas. But beware, the Norse did not wear just any brooch.

Many animals were present on their fibulas, such as the wolves Fenrir, Geri, and Freki, the dragon Níðhǫggr or the serpent Jörmungand. But the Vikings particularly appreciated the shape of the tortoise shell. They were the most popular and varied according to the geographical area:

  • The turtle fibulas were visible in Norway, Sweden, or mainland Denmark.
  • The fibulas shaped like animal heads, such as those previously described, were most often found in Gotland, an island in Sweden in the Baltic Sea.
  • The round fibulas were found in northern Sweden and Finland.

They were often found in pairs, in bronze, with two layers, one gilded and one silver-plated. As with the Etruscans originally, they were used to hold the two parts of a garment together and to carry accessories. While the decorative use was very popular, the fibula was not just for that in the Viking civilization.

You probably know that Nordic warriors liked to display the social status they possess within their village. Kings and the most important people wore all kinds of jewelry to show their value. There were necklaces, rings, rings, and brooches! Whether for women or men, they were an essential part of the Viking wardrobe, enhancing their garments. For example, Viking women particularly appreciated them for holding dresses.

The dresses, specifically, the young ladies wore them during the wedding before becoming women. At the British Museum in London, it is possible to see a pair of Viking turtle fibulas. These were worn by the two lovers during their union. Another proof of their importance within Viking art.

Many Meanings

Viking Hunterston Brooch

 

Like the fibula of Chiusi, the Hunterston Brooch also has a mark of ownership. This magnificent treasure from the Viking invasions was found in Ayrshire in 1830. This fibula is dated to the year 700 and has a purely Celtic decoration.

On the back, there is the inscription "Mælbrigða owns this brooch." If the name and design are Celtic and Christian, the runic alphabet is Nordic. It is possible to see this object at the National Museums Scotland.

If the fibula is a decorative and truly artistic object, it also allows one to affirm one's social status. The mark of ownership reinforces this idea. Depending on the civilizations of history, the shapes of brooches could also represent professions. Warriors and chiefs therefore obviously did not have the same type of fibula pinned to their chest.

To take the example of the pair of Viking turtle brooches, the fibula was also a mark that allowed marking the romantic situation of a woman. Brides undoubtedly had access to more elaborate and neater brooches than single women.

Finally, among the Vikings, as in other cultures, there is a great interest in mythology. The Nordic has a large number of gods and beliefs. It is therefore certain that jewelry served to pay homage to them.

The Nordendof Fibula

The Nordendof Fibula, dating from the 7th century, is one of these pieces of jewelry. Found in 1843 around Augsburg, the brooch of Alemannic origin bears an inscription written in runic language, paying homage to several Germanic deities.

It is indeed written in Old Futhark, the oldest runic alphabet:

"Logaþore, Wodan, Wigiþonar"

The meaning of the first name is uncertain. A common practice was to invoke a triad of gods to obtain luck and happiness. Logaþore means in this case Lódur, one of the gods at the origin of the creation of man, or Loki, the god of mischief.

Wodan is the Western Germanic form of the god Odin. þonar refers to Thor, the god of Thunder. The meaning of Wigi is still discussed. A translation of Wigiþonar means "May þonar consecrate." This formula was found on several runic stones of the time.

What's the Difference Between a Brooch and a Fibula?

In everyday language, to describe these clasps, we use the terms fibulas and brooches. But ultimately, are they the same thing?

The fibula appeared as early as the Bronze Age. Designed to fasten clothing, it initially had a utilitarian purpose. It was later that its usefulness as a decorative object would develop.

As for the brooch, it is simply the little sister of the fibula. More recent, the brooch is mostly worn by women. Indeed, over time, new manufacturing techniques have gradually allowed the fibula to be phased out. The brooch therefore has an aesthetic purpose. The attachment is also not the same. Hidden behind the decorative part, it is a safety pin, fixed either by welding or by gluing.

But ultimately, whether it is a fibula or a brooch, the Vikings made no distinctions.