Workshop production of brooches with religious symbolism around the year 1100 in Denmark

Mette Højmark Søvsø, Christian Vrængmose Jensen

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review


Small brooches with Christian motifs from the period of c. AD 1050–1150 occur frequently amongst metal-detector finds in Denmark. Those known as Urnes brooches, bird-shaped brooches and circular animal brooches are especially common finds over most of the country. In order to understand what lies behind the distribution and significance of these brooches, the issues of where they were made and who was responsible for production are key questions. The large number of finds must reflect a serial form of production, but up to a few years ago secure evidence of any workshop has been almost effectively absent. Presented in this paper are two recent finds of workshops in which the manufacture of these types of brooches took place, in Ribe and Aalborg respectively. On the basis of the archaeological contexts of the workshops and the finds, it is proposed that this production is to be seen as primarily an urban phenomenon, with the Church as initiator and key agent, directed at a broad circle of customers. This may have been part of an evangelizing thrust with wider popular appeal in which these small but highly meaningful artefacts played an important symbolic role.
Original languageEnglish
JournalDanish Journal of Archaeology
Pages (from-to)1-31
Number of pages30
Publication statusPublished - 2020


  • Amulets
  • Christian Mission
  • Christian Symbolism
  • Bronzecasting
  • Craftmanship

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