A New Beginning…

This is in one way my first real post, because I have an idea about doing it a bit more regularly, but who knows if I will follow through on that. We will see I guess.

I should say something about who I am, but I want to get going with more important issues so I will keep it Very short.

I am Moa Råhlander, I’m a PhD student in the Archaeology department at Stockholm University and I am going to spend a few years studying beads, primarily glass beads from the first millennium in Scandinavia. My goal, eventually is to create a new typology and at this time I am focused on Gotland. My plan with this is to share some of my progress and the items I have worked with. It will be a way for me to keep a bit of a diary, and hopefully I will be a bit of a resource for anyone interested in beads from prehistoric Scandinavia.

Most of the beads I work with is barely dated, so there is no good point in asking me for a specific dating, hopefully that will be something we can say when these years are done and I present my thesis… until then, these items can only with certainty be called ”Prehistoric”. Some are probably from the roman period, even if they end up with viking or even early middle age items.

Johan Callmer have recommended me a few groups of bead from Gotland to start with and I will share some of these beads here.

The first group I will show you is SHM 8315, from Lye shire in Lilla Rone. I want to stress that these beads have been strung in the museum. They have not been found strung, and might not even come from the same grave, It might not even be a grave.


This is a notation from 1888 in the archive of Stockholm History museum. It tells about the museum acquiring two silver arm rings, ten silver beads, five silver pendants, 3 mountain crystal balls with silver fittings, 11 mountain crystal pendants with silver fittings, 51 beads of amber, mosaic, glass. The objects was found by A. Sjösten when digging a ditch, bought for 150 kronor. Another notation says that no marking indicating a grave had been seen.


The Balls and Pendants of mountain crystal and silver are quite famous and have become almost a symbol of the Viking Period of Gotland. However, I will not talk much about them since they are not beads, but you can find them Here in the museums database.

Beads (not a necklace, deposit find) from SHM 8315 Lye sn, Gotland Sweden

This is a quite strange group of beads, there are 49 of them. Two are missing. However, in the B catalogue, where the items are decribed, it is mentioned that two of the mosaic beads are broken (“81. Five pieces of two mosaic beads”)  so they might have gotten lost along the way. They have spent a 130 years in a basement, and its very possible those fragments are still there, just that I have not yet had the opportunity to see them.

The stringing of beads without context is a bit problematic. For the researcher it may be a problem of access, some measurements, such as length and weigth might get a bit obscured. For the viewer who have no context, it might seem to be a necklace which we cannot know. The advantage is simple, there is less risk of the beads getting lost.

So, to present a few of these beads as individuals, ( I better do it now, there will be little time for things like that later)

Bead 19 in SHM 8315 Lye sn, Lilla Rone. This is the Largest of the glass beads, it a mosaic bead on a Yellow (O) ( The O stands for Opaque here. There is also T for Translucent or S-T for semi translucent, used mostly for opalino glass). This is not a common size, its actually almost monstrous (28,2 mm ø) next to other beads of the Viking age.

Since this is a rare bead in some ways, I took a short video of it so it can be seen from all sides.

And, since I have shown this one, I should show the other big mosaic. They are probably related since they share one type of murine, the red-white and blue square. The spirals are then shared with several of the other mosaics in this find. (Like bead 28 Below).

Bead 23 in SHM 8315 Lye sn, Lilla Rone. Mosaic masterpiece… so perfect it is almost boring :).


Bead 28 SHM 8315 Lye sn, Lilla Rone, The same spirals and square murrini as on bead 23. It also have a less preserved twin in bead 26.

Now we have seen some great mosaics, and this is a group with a large proportion of great mosaic beads… But there are a lot of interesting beads that are not mosaic. ( I just happen to be a bit stuck on mosaics right now since I’m trying to figure out a good way to describe and typologies them to make the work in front of me more time-efficient.

Beads 22-27 SHM 8315 Lye sn, Lilla Rone.

In the centre of this picture is bead 24, It is another large one and in the catalogue it is described as a mosaic imitating a knot. I am a bit uncertain if I would describe this as a mosaic (great work picking a non-mosaic here *sarcasm*). It is a strange being, since it may be made from glass pieces, technically making it a mosaic, but those glass pieces are not (as is the norm) murrini (slices of internally patterned glass-cane, including for example the subcategory of millefiori, if the pattern is floral). Mosaic beads of this period is also, usually made of only mosaic pieces, melted together as a sheet and wrapped around the mandrel. That it probably not the case here (or in bead 19, it has a Yellow (O) core underneath its sheet of murine.). But I’m unsure, I should check inside the hole next time.

Bead 5-1 SHM 8315 Lye sn, Lilla Rone.

A last group then, that really isn’t mosaic! These are beads 1-5, and they are all non mosaic. The top two (one you can only see the edge of but it’s almost the same as the second.) are light turquoise. They both have a bicolored belt, a line around the equator. The first ones belt is red and yellow with yellow in the center, the second is red and yellow with red in the centre. Bead 3 is a drawn bead, made from a striped cane (blue,white, red yellow) (these can be recognized because the stripes go into the holes on the sides.) Bead 4 looks similar but is made with two different bicolored stringers (this gives a similar look but the stripes does not go into the holes, and sometimes they overlap a little.) one in red and yellow and one in yellow and white.
Til next time.

Kind regards



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