A thousand year old Viking necklace, discovered at Peel Castle on the Isle of Man in 1984 and belonging to ‘a pagan sorceress’ has gone on display at the Jorvik Visitor Centre in York. The necklace – made up of 52 amber, jet and glass beads, including a couple of mosaic ones – is on loan from the Manx National Heritage organisation the first time that the piece has been displayed off the island. The grave dates from around 950, but some of the beads are older – as much as 400 years older – and came from all over Europe. It’s more typical to find rich grave goods in male burial sites....
It isn’t certain that the woman was a sorceress; but according to authorities, it is a possibility. What is known is that the Vikings had a religious role for women, since there are accounts of women called volva, who travelled from town to town performing magic for hire (the name possibly derives from earlier Germanic practitioners called ‘veleda,’ a ‘seeress’ or ‘prophetess’, or from the word for ‘staff/magic wand carrier’). The volva apparently didn’t have quite the same role as a priestess, although they did sometimes lead ceremonies.
Although it isn’t known for certain whether the woman found on Man occupied one of these roles or not, Allison Fox, the director of archaeology for MNH, says that the grave of the so-called ‘Pagan Lady,’ which was in a Christian cemetery, is “by far the wealthiest female burial” discovered on Man. “The very least we can say is that she was a very important woman in the local community, and that importance might have a spiritual connotation as well as a practical domestic side,” Ms Fox said (as far as we know, people who played a religious role in Viking society usually had other jobs as well).
“The number and variety of beads is really the striking thing about the necklace, that makes it stand out.”
An ammonite fossil charm and a little pestle and mortar were also found in the grave and will also be on display....
Peel Castle itself, the site of the ‘sorceress’ burial, has been a site of religious and secular importance on the island. Excavation started in 1982. The castle walls contain a Round Tower from the 11th century, a cathedral from the 13th and small apartments for the later Lords of Mann, the island’s rulers.
During the excavations seven pagan burials were found within the Christian cemetery, but this was not the only burial site on the island. Others include a boat grave at Balladoole, dated around 850 – 950 AD and containing a Viking ship, and the burial mound at Cronk Moar.
The boat grave also held a woman’s remains, dressed in fine clothing, and equipment for horse riding, tools and a shield. Cronk Moar contains a fully dressed man in a coffin with a cloak, cloak pin, knife, and a sword. A mound at Ballateare also contains a warrior, with a sword broken into three pieces, and the remains of a young woman – probably a slave – who had been killed by a blow to the head, perhaps in order to accompany her master into the afterlife.
The Islamic traveller, Ibn Fadlan, gave a contemporary account in the 10th century of a young slave girl being killed among the Volga Vikings, after the death of her master. Or maybe this grim fate did not befall the woman at Ballateare – maybe she was simply part of an earlier burial and the graves became mixed up. Animal remains were also found in the grave.
See the whole article here: https://wildhunt.org/2019/02/uk-necklac ... splay.html (It is interesting and has a little more information about the effect of Vikings on the Isle of Man)