Page VI

Profiting from Roman debacles, Longobards (the long beards) settled their capital at Ticinum, 6th century A.D., today's Pavia. They settled in even more comfortably following departure of former ally, the Romans of the East (Byzantines) who quit Italy A.D. 751. They were not comfortable for long. Eventful centuries saw them fighting off Goths, Franks, and finally Normans. To these Nordics one owes the regional name Lombardia.

Well acquainted with the Longobards, Roman armies had pushed them back across the Rhine in A.D. 98. Tacitus describes these Nordics, titling his work Germania, however their origin remains disputed. Some indicate Denmark, others insist upon Sweden. Whichever stands correct, their weapons and battles recount a close relationship with the triskelis. We present here a sombre Longobard shield, metalled with the hypnotically eye-catching symbol. [ 35 ].
This presentation is by courtesy of the Metropolitan Museum of New York

The Scandinavians adopted the symbol reported in part 1. They leave us admiring triskelis designs representing their gods on gold bracteates, amulets, weapons and more. The following number shows a 10th century bronze Viking sword chape with silver inlay, from Gotland. [ 76 ] Many theories and assertions exist regarding the Scandinavian’s triskelis, one affirming it symbolized the trisection of the year as shows this bracteate [ 45 ] presented by Mr. Bengt Hemtun in his work at *13. Conceivably a triskelis path may be traced to Olbia near Odessa, a renowned centre for Greek goldsmiths whence Scandinavians eagerly purchased artworks. Another path to follow is that of the The Nordic Heruli mixing easily with the Longobards. King Valtari, A.D. 540-547, was the son of king Rodulf’s daughter and King Vaco. A three-hundred year term or so saw Heruli warriors, mercenaries Rome commonly hired. (A.D.268 - 568).

After a long term as an exile in the Ukraine and later Byzantium, legendary Viking Harald Hadrade (1047- 1066) King of Norway, issued a penny coin boldly imaging a triskelis filling the obverse. In the process of reforming his nation’s monetary system the king’s pennies maintained this symbol throughout his reign and represented Norway's principal coin in usage from 995 to 1397.


We now view those Saxons settling in Britain near the 5th century A.D. One requires little imagination to perceive wherefrom triskelion imagery reached them although the symbol existed formerly as seen, in lands familiar today as Germany and Denmark. Mr. Brett Hammond of Upminster in Essex has generously allowed us to display his Anglo-Saxon mount, defined as an “ibis” triskelis, [ 1 ] an Anglo-Saxon clasp, [ 4 ] an Anglo-Saxon Sceatta, 720 A.D., a bronze decorative piece [ 74 ] and a circa 9th century reliquary fitting [ 75 ] : . Mr. Hammond has recently come across circa 10th/11th century Hnefatafl pieces with silver wire triskelis inlays.

The symbol found a niche within Christian literature such as Ireland's famed Book of Durrow (circa  675) [ 80 ] or the Vespasian Psalter (London, British Library, Cotton Vespasian AI) compiled in the eighth century. This work is one of the oldest extant Bible translations into English. A clearer image is to be found in a fifteenth century Book of Hours in the Univerisity of Kentucky  Special collections (Kentuckiensis III) 81 ].

Readers may note stylistic similarities between the following coin and much earlier Celtic issues herein.

Metcalf Thrymsas and AG. Sceattas,Vol 336
by permission of B. Hammond
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