For decades the experts at the British Museum believed that this item, discovered at a woman's grave from Norway was just a hook used in fishing. However, new research suggests that it was her 'magic wand' and that it was deliberately bent to destroy its power.
The Times newspaper reported that this item, a 90 cm long iron rod, was first brought to the British Museum in 1894. British Museum curator Sue Branning believes that it was probably a magical staff used to perform 'seithr', a form of Viking sorcery predominantly practiced by women.
She told The Times: "These are magical practices, which we don't fully understand. It involves divination, prophecy, communication with the dead and making people do things. Our rod fits, in terms of its form, with a number of these rods that turn up in the 9th and 10th century in female burials. They normally take the form of these long iron rods with knobs attached to them."
The rod would have been 'ritually' destroyed in order to prevent the sorceress from rising from the dead, or to stop anyone else from using it. Branning adds, "When we hear about the Vikings we hear all about the powerful warriors, but now we know there were also powerful women. These women were very well respected, but they were quite feared as well. They may have been on the margins of society. You might not want to get close to them because they have this power. The sources we have describe them as wearing blue and black cloaks with gems attached."
Visitors to the British Museum will be able to see the artifact when the new Early Medieval Gallery reopens on March 27th. Click here to visit the British Museum website.