Is this the largest Thor's Hammer we've ever made? Making a replica of the large pendant from the Hiddensee hoard.By Jim
We first saw the massive Hiddensee hoard pendants in 2013 at the Vikings exhibition in the National Museum of Denmark in Copenhagen, and nothing can prepare you for seeing just how big these pieces of gold jewellery really are! Of course, we were already familiar with the hoard, and the style of pendant is well known from the Viking era, but these individual pieces are just so big, that they were instantly added to the list of designs we wanted to make.
The original hoard – not the best picture, but like all others, it doesn’t do the scale of the pieces justice.
The hoard was found on Hiddensee Island, which is now in Germany, in 1873. It dates from the 10th century, and given the size of the pieces, and quantity of gold involved, it may be supposed that it originally belonged to Danish royalty. The design of the main pieces is usually thought to represent a Thor’s hammer design, but the 10th Century was the time when Scandinavia was converting to Christianity, so it may be that these designs were deliberately shaped to merge the hammer and cross designs together, in the same way that the two cultures were merging together – with the enthusiastic support of the rulers of the time.
Full size replicas of the original hoard have been made before, of course, there is one in the local museum in Hiddensee, and one was exhibited with the Viking exhibition in the Canadian Museum of History in 2015. Like the original pieces these have been made of granulated gold, and follow the original in that they consist of 4 different designs, 5 if you include the spacer, in 2 different sizes.
Having been so taken by the scale of these designs in Copenhagen, I first started with a smaller version of this pendant type, based on the dimensions, and style of a find from Coppergate, in York. This one was a Patrice, or former, made of lead alloy, and used for making the granulated finished items. Now, being something of a specialist in the legitimate Viking jewellery technique of false filligree, where a master is carved in imitation of the granulated style, a mould is made from this and then cast, that was how I made our original Jorvik Hiddensee pendant.
My interpretation of the Coppergate Hiddensee style pendant. Gold plated, of course.
Following this, and with the intention of completing the whole Hiddensee necklace, I made the spacer piece in 2016, again using that same method of carving the design, rather than full granulation. So, having tested out, and studied the designs, I then moved on to the larger pieces from the Hiddensee hoard in 2017.
The spacer piece from the Hiddensee Hoard.
The major challenge with this piece is keeping the proportions, and style of the original. Remember, these pieces were made using a former to create the base plate for the granulation, so all of the pieces the same size would be roughly the same shape, having been formed over the same Patrice. So the first step was to carefully draw out the design, and figure out the intricacies of the knotwork, before getting started on the carving itself.
The working drawing. Combining some of the features of original Hiddensee pendants.
Of course, the original method of manufacture means that no two pendants are exactly the same, so combining the features and quirks of several pieces was done at this stage of the process, all drawn at 2x the final size.
Carving the master. Using traditional tools and methods, in a modern material, to more accurately reproduce the design of the original.
Once this was finished, and the moulds made, we are able to cast the design in pewter, which we quickly launched on our website, they are available here - http://www.asgard.scot/shop/pewter-viking-pendants-rings
Back on the drawing board. The finished Hiddensee pendant next to the working drawing.
But there is one thing left to do, to reproduce the scale of the original Hiddensee hoard: get them plated with gold! We were able to do very quickly, and so, here we have, a full size, gold plated replica of one of the larger pendant designs from the Hiddensee hoard.
And this piece, or even a full necklace, is now available to buy here - http://www.asgard.scot/shop/viking-pendants
The finished, gold plated Hiddensee necklace.
And this image demonstrates just how big it is!
So, after all that, and with full size replica’s of the Hiddensee pendant design, the only thing to do now, is the other 3 hammer designs. But this one will still be the largest hammer we’ve ever produced!
A gold necklace fit for a Valkyrie.