A silver pendant bearing the hammer of the Norse god Thor unearthed in Norfolk may be linked to the first Viking invaders of Britain.

The artefact, estimated to have been made in either the 9th or 10th century, is made largely of silver and is in the shape of the hammer symbol associated with the deity. 

During a treasure inquest into the find, a report from Gareth Williams, a curator at the British Museum, said the discovery - at an undisclosed location in Norfolk  - may have been linked to the Viking Great Army which invaded Britain in the 9th century.

Eastern Daily Press:

The notorious force, also known as the Great Heathen Army, was a feared coalition of Scandinavian warriors which swept through England in 865.

However, the prolific raiders were known to regularly plunder British shores - and Norfolk in particular - before its invasion, first landing in 787.

Throughout the 800s, the Viking raiders would land in Norfolk, bringing havoc with them, only to be paid to return to Denmark.

But this trend changed in 865 when a sizeable force - estimated to be around 3,000 strong, landed with the intention to seize England itself.

The army tore through the region and in 869 executed Edmund the Martyr, the then King of East Anglia.

Dr Williams said: "Most of the recorded discoveries are singular finds without architectural context, with the greatest concentration in Norfolk.

"The presence of Thor's hammers are largely found at sites associated with the movements of the Great Army.

"There is nothing to suggest this isn't genuine and of the time."


Other precious finds

The pendant was unearthed in 2016 and was one of four objects formally declared as treasure by area coroner Yvonne Blake on Monday, October 16.

The others were:

  • A gold bracteate engraved with the face of Roman emperor Constantine the Great found on New Year's Day, 2021, dating back to between 480 and 490AD 
    Eastern Daily Press: Gold Bracteate Gold Bracteate (Image: British Museum)
  • A post-medieval gilded silver hooked tag found in December 2019 dating to the mid-1500s
    Eastern Daily Press:
  • A silver medieval brooch found in September 2016 dating back to 1280
    Eastern Daily Press:

The latest finds reaffirm Norfolk's position as the treasure capital of England, with more discoveries made in the county than anywhere else.

Figures revealed by the government earlier this year showed that metal detectorists have more joy in Norfolk than any other part of the country.