Uncoiling the Serpent: Snake Figurines in the Viking Age

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This paper examines the corpus of rare Viking-Age miniature objects in the form
of coiled snakes. Artefacts of this kind are made of silver, copper-alloy, gold, jet, and wood, and are discovered in graves, hoards, settlements, and as stray finds. In funerary contexts, they are typically found in connection with women, often buried with various ritual paraphernalia strongly suggesting that their owners had an important role to play in pre-Christian religious practice. By conducting a thorough analysis of the materiality of snake figurines, and by investigating their different variants and the wider contexts in which they are found, this paper attempts to unravel the symbolic and social significance of these curious miniature objects.
Original languageEnglish
JournalViking and Medieval Scandinavia
Issue number16
Pages (from-to)27-61
Number of pages36
Publication statusPublished - 2020


  • Viking Age
  • Old Norse
  • Scandinavia
  • Snakes
  • Amulets
  • miniatures
  • Women
  • Magic

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