Historical knowledge

The mysterious oath rings

Some of the arm rings are called ‘oath rings’. These arm rings are open and have funnel-shaped ends. The name comes from the beginning of the nineteenth century, at a time when it was thought that one could find explanations in the Icelandic sagas of the use of objects from prehistory. Because of the sagas the gold arm rings were viewed as objects used in connection with the swearing of oaths in courts. Although it later emerged that the ‘oath rings’ are not from the age of the sagas, but from the much older Bronze Age (c. 1700-500 BC), people continued to use the name. The appearance of the oath rings can vary greatly. They may be large or slender, and of gold or bronze. Often the oath rings are found as sacrificial deposits.

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