Culture

Birka crucifix – sign of Christianity among the Vikings

Dennis Fabricius Holm was enjoying an afternoon off work when he found a Birka crucifix pendant in a field near the town of Aunslev, Østfyn. He got off work early that day and decided to go exploring in Anslev with his metal detector.

“I got off early on Friday, so I took just a few hours, I went around with my metal detector and then I came suddenly on something. Since I cleared the mud and saw the jewelry, I have not been able to think of anything else.” At this time, Holm’s FB page is set to private but others have posted about his amazing find. Seeing the  posting the find to social media, other users encouraged him to take it to a museum.

Christian missionaries tried to convert the Danes for centuries, and the Vikings supposedly resisted their attempts. Because of Christian trading, Danes mostly adopted Christianity by 1050 CE, which was the end of the Viking era. The century-old Christian cross discovered by Holm seems to prove that Christianity was accepted in Denmark before this period.vikings Christianity birka crucifix

The FB post further quoted Ms. Beck, she said that “the figure can therefore help to advance the time when one considers that the Danes really were Christians.”

Malene Refshauge Beck said: “It is an absolutely sensational discovery that is from the first half of the 900’s. It has been found an almost identical figure in Sweden, which has been dated to just this period.”

This specimen is in especially good condition and one of the best-preserved Christian artifacts found in Denmark. Weighing just 13.2 grams and measuring 4.1 centimeters in length, the figure is made of finely articulated goldthreads and tiny filigree pellets, it is smooth on the reverse side but has a small eye at the top for a chain and it was probably worn by a Viking woman. The dating of the crucifix  estimated it being from A.D. 900 to 950.

At the moment, the Jelling Stones ( two large rune stones erected in A.D. 965 in Jutland ), are thought to be the oldest known representation of Jesus on a cross in Denmark. The stones, commemorate Harald Bluetooth’s conversion of the Danes to Christianity.

Christian missionaries had been present in the country for about 200 years before then but had failed to convert the Vikings. Although, the pressures from Christian trade partners to convert and influence from the Kingdom ofvikings birka crucifix verso Germany to the south, meant that most Danes were Christian by the end of the Viking period in 1050. The impact of the find is such that the historical record of the country will need to be adjusted.

“The figure can therefore help to advance the time when one considers that the Danes really were Christians, simply because one can say that the person who carried it here no doubt embraced the Christian faith. This is a subject that certainly will have to appear in the history books in the future. In recent years there has been more and more signs that Christianity was widespread earlier than previously thought — and here the clearest evidence so far” , Beck said.

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