Department of Classics and Archaeology

Glass beads from Viking burials on Gotland

Project summary

The project involves a scientific study of 200 9th-10th century glass beads from well-dated Viking burials on the island of Gotland, Sweden that contain other provenanced material, especially coins. 

Example of one of the types of Viking-age glass beads found on Gotland
Example of one of the types of Viking-age glass beads found on Gotland

Project details

When combined with the study of Islamic coins from Sweden such an analysis should transform our understanding of trade in the Viking Age. Indeed, glass beads constitute, after Islamic coins, the second most common type of objects imported to northern Europe in that period. They have never been scientifically provenanced on a large scale before.

The project team have removed microsamples from the glass beads, These have been analysed using electron probe microanalysis in the Nano and Microscale Research Centre, University of Nottingham and laser ablation inductively coupled mass spectrometry at the British Geological Survey.

Project aims

  1. To scientifically analyse and provenance 200 Islamic glass beads found in Viking contexts.
  2. To create new trade maps and networks for Islamic coins and glass in western Eurasia
  3. To provide new dating for Islamic glass types and beads found in the Middle East 

Project outcomes

Unpublished results indicate that the glass used to make the beads derived from a range of geographic sources. A multi-authored article is in preparation.





Department of Classics and Archaeology

University of Nottingham
University Park
Nottingham, NG7 2RD

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