Torben Thomsen found this relief-decorated and gilded pendant in Hjørring municipality, northernmost Jutland. It was his first really old piece. Knight Ink Tattoo in Frederikshavn did the tattoo work on Torben’s lower left leg. Torben’s pendant is missing its loop, but his workmate Daniel Bach Morville has found the complete piece below at a nearby site.
The motif is a pair of antithetical sea horses. To date them, let’s look at the animal art — the two objects, not the tattoo. The tattoo artist has classicised the motif and gotten rid of a lot of specifically Scandy detail. Considering the shoulder spiral, the cross-hatched body and the scythe-like element across the neck of each sea-horse, I want to place these things in the Jelling/Mammen phase in the late 10th century, and in a very high-status environment. So that’s my bid: these are Middle Viking Period pendants, and damn fine ones too.
Big thanks to Torben and Daniel for allowing me to show their photographs on the blog. The previous instalment in our series of metal detectorist tattoos was from Steffen Hansen. Us archaeologists love to see people engage with the archaeological heritage, and you don’t really get more personal about it than this. Dear Reader, have you got a tattoo of an artefact that you’ve found? I’d love to show it here!