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Viking crafts

Carving a dragon figurehead for a longship Carving a dragon figurehead for a longship The Vikings were skilled craftsmen. They used materials traded with other peoples in their crafts, including silver, jet (a hard, black stone), amber and glass, along with local wood. Leatherworkers, carpenters, blacksmiths and other craftspeople made everything needed for daily life. They carved wood for their ships, shields and toys, and fashioned metal for swords, tools, armour and jewellery. Their crafts were long-lasting, but also beautiful, with elaborate decoration.


A hoard of Viking silver coins and jewelleryA hoard of Viking silver coins and jewelleryViking cloak pinViking cloak pinThe Vikings loved jewellery and wore ornate pendants, bracelets and pins made from precious metals, especially silver. Both men and women wore brooches to fasten their clothes at the shoulder. Wearing jewellery crafted from precious metals was a sign of wealth. The less well-off wore pieces made of cheaper bronze or pewter, a mixture of silver and other metals. Necklaces of glass beads were also popular.Carefully crafted weaponsCarefully crafted weapons

Consultant: Philip Parker

In the 9th and 10th centuries, Vikings were very fond of bronze oval brooches—hundreds of nearly identical ones have been found, 10–12 cm (4–5 inches) long. Metalworkers must have churned them out in hundreds of workshops right across the Viking lands, making them a very early example of a mass-produced good.

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