The ancient Norse Vikings wore rings on their fingers, around their necks (torc rings),
and around their arms. These medieval peoples rings were usually made out of silver or gold and were an indication of wealth and status. Since the poor could not afford such items, Viking warriors took them as highly prized trophies from captured or dead enemies.
Whereas finger rings and rings worn around the neck were mostly used as adornment the
Norse silver arm rings were used quite extensively for barter. In order to purchase something
the arm ring could be taken off and an agreed amount hacked off for payment.
This was such a wide spread practice that the term "hack silver" was used to describe the
pieces of silver.
Norse Rings - Discoveries
Blackwater River - Gold Ring
Sometime between 1989 and 1991, during a dredging of the Blackwater River in Ulster Ireland,
a man named Glenn Crawford found a spectacular gold annular rod finger ring. The ring was later
determined to be an ancient
Norse ring from the Middle Ages which may date back to as early as the 9th century. It is likely that it fell from a Viking
boat. In 832 AD the Vikings conducted three raids on the nearby city of Armagh. The area the ring was
found in was likely one of the routes the Norse took from their Lough Neagh base to Armagh.
A ring expert named John Sheehan stated the Norse ring was the "only one of its kind".
The Huxley Hoard
In 2004, during a metal detector rally in Huxley (Cheshire County) England, a man
named Steve Reynoldson, unearthed several lead and silver objects later determined to
be from the Norse Viking Age. The objects are believed to date to the first decade of the
tenth century AD. Twenty one silver arm rings and thirty nine lead fragments were
discovered at the site. The reason the Vikings buried this treasure will never be known
for sure, however one theory is that it was buried for safekeeping by Viking refugees
after being expelled from Dublin by the Irish.
Silverdale Viking hoard
A man named Darren Webster found a huge hoard of ancient Viking items near Silverdale
England while using a metal detector. This find included several coins, two finger rings
ten complete arm rings, six bossed brooch fragments, a wire braid, and well over
one hundred chopped-up arm rings (hack silver). The coins were a significant find,
because they bear the name of a previously-unknown Viking ruler.