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Bibliography of Viking Era Beads and Bead Production

This page is being actively updated. Please check back regularly for updates.

Ambrosiani 1995
Ambrosianai, Björn. Beads of Glass and Semi-precious Stone. in Birka Studies Volume 2 Excavations in the Black Earth, (ed) Ambrosianai, Björn and Helen Clarke Stockholm 1995 pp. 52-63.
- A decent collection of information about the nearly 1000 beads found at Birka. It is madeningly imcomplete, however, providing some information about some of the beads but not enough to generate even a Callmer type for any of them.

Astrup and Andersen 1987
Astrup, Evabeth and Arnfinn Andersen. A Study of Metal Foiled Glass beads from the Viking period. Acta Archaeologica 58 (1987) pp. 222-228.
- Interesting read but nothing about the furnace

Bayley 2003
Bayley, J Glass bead-making in Viking York Current Archaeology 16(6) No. 186:252-3 2003
- Although extremely short this article provides more information to support Hall's chapter, including pictures. Of particular interest is the discussion of the use of ceramics as melting plates in the production of beads.

Bencard et al, 1990
Bencard, Mogens, Jørgensen, Lise Bender, Madsen, Helge Brinch eds. Ribe Excavations 1970-76, Text Volume 4, Sydjysk Universitetsforlag, Esbjerg, 1990, ISBN: 87-88521-83-4
- The main dig report for Ribe specifically the volume dealing with the excavation and stratigraphy.

Bencard et al, 2004
Bencard, Mogens, Rasmussen, Aino Kann, and Madsen, Helge Brinch, eds. Ribe Excavations 1970-76. Vol. 5. Jutland Archaeological Society Publications 4-6. Moesgard: Jutland Archaeological Society, 2004. Pp. 287.
- The main dig report for Ribe specifically the volume dealing with the beads.

Biek & Bayley 1979
Leo Biek and Justine Bayley Glass and other vitreous materials World Archaeology Volume II No. I Early chemical technology 1979 0043-8243/1 101-0001
- A good source for information about glass but not too helpful on making beads.

Boone 1977
Boone, G.C. Gold in Glass Beads from the Ancient World. Britannia 9. 1977.
- Interesting read but nothing about the furnace

Briggs 1985
A Neglected Viking Burial with Beads from Kilmainham, Dublin, Discovered in 1847 Medieval Archaeology, V29 (1985)
- This article reconstructs a burial of one or two women in Dublin from antiquarian sources. Although the beads involved are discussed in Callmer's work the article provides significant new information about the two string beads including the fact that they may be of Irish origin.

Callmer 1977
Callmer, Johan Trade Beads And Bead Trade In Scandinavia ca. 800-1000 A.D. 1977, ISBN: 91-40-04466-1
- An impressive collection of information about various viking beads. Well worth the time required to wade through. A summarized version of the data with additional analysis is available here

Callmer and Henderson 1991
Callmer, Johan and Julian Henderson. Glassworking at Ahus, South Sweden [Skane, 8th century AD] Labortaiv Arkeologi 5 (1991) pp. 143-154.
- This article poses some very interesting questions about glass working in terms of skill levels, number of workers and so on. Although the authors draw some conclusions at the end due to the scarcity of materials I don't think their answers to many of these questions are well supported by the Ahus finds, even though I agree with them in the larger context of Viking Era bead making evidence.

It also adds to the base of knowledge on bead working furnaces by telling us "Two severely damaged ovens were found as well as numerous pieces of completely destroyed ones" (p. 143). Over 71,000 pieces of glass working material were found on site. A solid discussion of the glass material finds is included in the article, including a typology for glass materials. Types of beads, decorations styles, colours are also covered as one would expect from Callmer.

On a social level the authors consider the working staff to have been at least 4 workers. Two assigned to working with the glass, drawing rods, making reticella, and so on; and two devoted to tending to the furnace itself.

The article also presents preliminary chemical analysis of various glass material allowing at least some of the material to be linked to Roman mosaic sources.

Link to article
Carlsson 2002
Arkeodok Viking Beads from Fröjel port of trade (link)
- A very useful source documenting approximately 200 beads found in Gotland. Unfortunately little has been done with these plow-zone beads in terms of fitting them into existing typologies, or analyzing the trace materials such as what appears to be a lining in the mandrel hole. The beads are also mostly unrelated chance finds and thus cannot be placed chronologically.

Feveile and Jensen 2000
Ribe in the 8th and 9th Century: A contributon to the Archaeological Chronology of North Western Europe, Acta Archaeologica 71, 2000, pp 9-24
- Ribe is a known site of bead production during the early Viking era. Although not providing the same level of detail as the excavation reports this article does add useful information by covering excavations occurring after the 1970-6 seasons detailed in the original report. The 2500 beads are briefly discussed with regards to sizes, shapes, colours, and chronology.

Gordon 1990
Kate Gordon A Norse Viking-age grave from Cruach Mhor, Islay, Proc SocAntiq Scot, 120 (1990), 151-160
- This article is a report of a field survey that indicates the presence of a possible female grave. Among the other artefacts the grave contained six beads making it of interest in the context of this paper. The six beads include one amber, one blue glass, one yellow glass and three jet. There is also a disc of pumice that the article notes without being certain if it should be considered a bead.

Heck and Hoffmann 2002
Analysis of Early Medieval Glass Beads - The Raw Materials to Produce Green, Orange, and Brown Colours, Mikrochimica Acta 139, 71-76 (2002)
- Although discussing the Merovingian period this paper is worth examining as the culture involved is adjacent to the Viking era Norse. The paper summarizes the colours and material makeup of 1403 beads. Particularly of interest in this article is one of the conclusions which indicates that the beads were likely made in small groups in a craft-based industry.

Henderson and Holand 1992
The Glass from Borg, an Early Medieval Chieftain's Farm in Northern Norway, Medieval Archaeology Vol 36, 1992
- This paper is a review of the finds of glass at a chieftain's farm in Norway which was occupied through the majority of the first millennium. The find includes beads, and sherds from glass vessels. The material is analyzed within the article for trace materials. A section discussing glass technology is included with sourcing suggestions for the Borg glass. The article also includes historical information from Ottar's account to King Alfred. The majority of the focus of the article is the glass sherds not the beads.

Hirst and Biek 1981
S.M.Hirst and L.Biek Investigation of a Glass Bead Assembledge from an Anglo-Saxon Cemetary Near York Révue d'Archeometrie, Supplement. 1981.
- A nice enough article about beads from a cemetary but not too helpful on making beads.

Jackson et al 2003
C. M. Jackson, L. Joyner, C. A. Booth, P. M. Day and E. C. W. Wager Roman Glass-Making at Coppergate, York? Analytical Evidence for the Nature of Production Archaeometry 45, 3 (2003) 435-456.
- Heavy technical details on the composition of the glass being made during the Roman Period at Coppergate.

Jensen 1991
Stig Jensen The Vikings of Ribe Den antikvariske Samling Ribe 1991
- A very decent overview that covers bead making. Personal correspondance with the bead maker at Ribe, however, suggests that this is not an optimal design due to wind. Her current version uses a full dome.

Joass 1870
Joass, Rev. J M 1868-70 Notes of the Discovery of a Necklace of Beads and Plates of Shale and Jet, along with Flint Arrow Heads, found in a Cist under a Small Tumulus at Torrish, Kildonan, Sutherlandshire., Proc Soc Antiq Scotland 8, 408-11, 1870
- Although the beads in question are of interest and some of them are similar to beads from Viking contexts there is simply not enough information provided in the article to establish a context with any certainty.

Lundström 1976
Lundström, A. Bead Making in Scandinavia in the Early Middle Ages. Early Medieval Studies 9, Antivariskt Arkiv 61. 1976.
- An excellent introduction to the archaeology of some bead making sites but nothing about the furnace

Lundström 1981
A. Lundström Survey of the glass from Helgö in Excavations at Helgö VII: Glass, Iron, Clay. A. Lundström and H. Clarke, eds. Stockholm. 1981.
- The finds at Helgö represent the largest collection of glass from Sweden. Around 1000 beads are included in the material including amber, glass, semi-precious stones, bronze, bone, silver, and clay. Colours, and shapes are discussed in depth, and the material is compared to that found at Paviken. Images are provided of many of the beads and bead making materials. A significant portion of the article is devoted to discussion of bead making and possible interpretations of the buildings. Overall this is the most interesting and informative article.

Arthur MacGregor 1978
Arthur MacGregor Industry and commerce in Anglo-Scandinavian York In Viking Age York and the North, Richard Hall (ed). Research Report 27, Council for British Archaeology. 1978
- This chapter discusses amber, jet, glass bead making at York during the Viking era. Unfortunately the information provided is minimal including only numbers, shapes, colours, and vague statements about the types of production waste recovered.

Näsman 1978
Näsman, U. Die Herstellung von Glasperlen. In: M. Bencard (ed.): Wikingerzeitliches Handwerk in Ribe. Acta Archaeologica 49, 1978. København.
- Thanks to the kindness of a new friend this article has been translated and can be read here.

Rasmussen 1992
Glass Beads - Cultural History, Technology, Experiment and Analogy Proceedings of the Nordic glass bead seminar 16. - 18. October 1992 at the Historical Archaelogical Experimental Centre in Lejre, Denmark. Edited by Marianne Rasmussen, Ulla Lund Hansen and Ulf Näsman.
- A really interesting collection of papers. There's even a note about the furnace at Ribe (in Tine Gam Aschenbrenner Should we believe in experiments? which cites Näsman, U. Die Herstellung von Glasperlen). Torben Sode Purdalpur, a glass bead-making village in Northern India is a good article in this book documenting similar furnaces in use today with some interesting ideas.

Ross 1886
Ross, Alexander Notice of the Discovery of Portions of Two Penannular Brooches of Silver, with Beads of Glass and Amber, and a Silver Coin of Coenwulf, King of Mercia (A.D. 795-818), at Mains of Croy, Inverness-shire, Proc Soc Antiq Scotland 20, 91-6, 1886
- Although this article suffers from the same problems associated with many early articles the dating is fairly well documented through the coin in the find, and the beads are detailed in some depth with regards to size and colours.

Sablerolles 1999
Beads of glass, faience, amber, baked clay, and metal including production waste from glass and amber bead making, in Besteman JC, Bos JM, Gerrets DA, Heidinga HA and Koning J de (eds) The excavations at Wijnaldum. Reports on Frisia in Roman and Medieval Times. Vol I (Rotterdam/Brookfield):235-285
- Like Martin and Hoffman's article on Merovingian glass this article is focused on a culturally adjacent context to the Viking age. The majority of the beads found predate the Viking era but approximately ten percent are contemporary. In addition to an in-depth discussion of bead colours, shapes, sizes, and construction the article discusses bead construction occurring on site in the late sixth/early seventh century. The materials are well documented in drawings and tables.

Sindbæk 2007
Søren M. Sindbæk Networks and nodal points: the emergence of towns in early Viking Age Scandinavia, antiquity 81 (2007): 119-132
- Although this article does not discuss beads or bead making in any depth it looks at the trade routes employed in the Viking era and specifically the concept of nodal points. Of interest is the fact that all of the known bead production sites appear in the list of nodes.

Smith 1874
Smith, John Alexander Note of Coarse Green Glass Beads found at Kinloch-Rannoch, Perthshire., Proc Soc Antiq Scotland 10, 447-8, 1874
- The beads in question are of interest but like the article above there isn't enough information provided to place these beads in any context, or derive any useful information about them. Early articles such as these two may be of minor use but clearly no significant expectations should be placed on early-era publications other than as a starting point for further research.

Welander, Batey and Cowie 1987
R D E Welander, Colleen Batey and T G Cowie A Viking burial from Kneep, Uig, Isle of Lewis, Proc SocAntiq Scot, 117 (1987), 149-174
- This is the report of a find of a grave of a wealthy woman in Lewis. Although some context was lost due to the amateur nature of the recovery, the 44 beads found represent an interesting type and are discussed in some depth including ideas on their manufacture. The grave findings are fairly rich and are also covered in detail although they are not particularly related to the topic at hand.

Sources to be read:
Ambrosiani 1995
Ambrosiani, B. Beads of glass and semiprecious stone. Excavations in the black earth 1990. in Birka Studies vol. 2. Stockholm, 1995
Brent 1880
Brent, John On glass beads with a chervon pattern Archaeologia 45, 297-308, 1880.
Brown 1915
Brown, G Baldwin Notes on a Necklace of Glass Beads found in a Cist in Dalmeny Park, South Queensferry.Proc Soc Antiq Scotland 49, 332-8, 1915
Sherr Dubin 1995
Sherr Dubin, Lois The history of beads from 30.000 B.C. to the present, 1995
Evison 1975
Evison, Vera I Sword rings and beadsArchaeologia 105, 303-15, 1975
Evison 1967
Evison, Vera I The Dover ring-sword and other sword-rings and beads Archaeologia 101, 63-118, 1967
Hansen and Wickham
Inge Lyse Hansen, Chris Wickham The Long Eighth Century, ISBN: 9004117237
Heck 2000
Heck, M and Hoffmann, P Coloured opaque glass beads of the Merovingians, Archaeometry 42, 341-357, 2000
Henderson 1999
Scientific analysis of the glass and the glass-bearing artefacts: technique, raw materials used, and archaeological interpretation, in Besteman JC, Bos JM, Gerrets DA, Heidinga HA and Koning J de (eds) The Excavations at Wijnaldum. Reports on Frisia in Roman and Medieval Times. Vol I (Rotterdam/Brookfield): 287-297.
Lunde 1985
Øivind Lunde Archaeology and the Medieval Towns of Norway, Medieval Archaeology Vol 29, 1985
Price 2000
Price J (ed) Glass in Britain and Ireland AD350 - 1100, British Museum 2000
Tratzig 1988
Gustaf Tratzig Beads Made of Cowrie Shells from the Red Sea and the Indian Ocean Found on Gotland., in Trade and Exchange in Prehistory: Studies in Honor of Berte Stjernquist. eds. Birgitta Hårdh et al.. Lund: Lunds universitets historiska museum. 1988. pp. 287-294.
Wace 1932
Wace, A J B Part III. Commentary: E. Beads, Archaeologia 82, 204-210, 1932
Wilson 1878
Wilson, Rev. George Note on Lignite Beads found in an Urn near Stranraer, in 1859-60, Proc Soc Antiq Scotland 12, 625, 1878

Offsite Links:
http://www.forntidateknik.z.se/IFT/MNTarb/2000/glasparl/glasparl.htm

www.struermuseum.dk/imme/glas.html - site deems to have been removed but the link goes to a copy at archive.org
      Updated: 12 Feb, 2009
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