MJÖLNIR ZN SO

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Concho, 30 x 40 mm, Silver-optic

Myths, artifacts, and institutions revolving around Thor indicate his prominent place in the mind of medieval Scandinavians. His following ranged in influence, but the Viking warrior aristocracy were particularly inspired by Thor's ferocity in battle. In the medieval legal arena, according to Joseph Campbell, "(a)t the Icelandic Things (court assemblies) the god invoked in the testimony of oaths, as 'the Almighty God,' was Thor." Emblematic of their devotion were the appearance of miniature replicas of Mjöllnir, widely popular in Scandinavia. Many of these replicas were also found in graves and tended to be furnished with a loop, allowing them to be worn. Mjöllnir amulets were most widely discovered in areas with a strong Christian influence including southern Norway, south-eastern Sweden, and Denmark. Due to the similarity of equal-armed, square crosses featuring figures of Christ on them at around the same time, the wearing of Thor's hammers as pendants may have come into fashion in defiance of the square amulets worn by newly converted Christians in the regions. The shape taken by these pendants varied by region. The Icelandic variant was cross-shaped, while Swedish and Norwegian variants tended to be arrow or T-shaped. About 50 specimens of such hammers were found widely dispersed throughout Scandinavia, dating from the 9th to 11th centuries. A few such examples were also found in England. An iron Thor's hammer pendant excavated in Yorkshire, dating to ca. AD 1000 bears an unical inscription preceded and followed by a cross, interpreted as indicating a Christian owner syncretizing pagan and Christian symbolism. A 10th century soapstone mold found at Trendgården, Jutland, Denmark is notable for allowing the casting of both crucifix and Thor's hammer pendants. A silver specimen found near Fossi, Iceland (now in the National Museum of Iceland) can be interpreted as either a Christian cross or a Thor's hammer. Unusually, the elongated limb of the cross ends in a beast's (perhaps a wolf's) head.

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