First Ladies

Ornamental Bow Brooches and the Negotiation of Elite Female Status and Roles in Iron-Age Norway (c. 400-900 AD)




relief brooch, disc-on-bow brooch, burial, identity, gender, heirloom


From the fifth century to the Viking Age in present-day Norway, certain women belonging to the upper strata of society were buried with high-quality ornamental bow-brooches. Although adjusting to changing styles of decoration, the practical function and basic form of the brooches - rectangular headplate, bow and rhomboidal footplate – remained more or less the same throughout the centuries they were in use. By exploring burials which include these ornamental accessories, I argue that the brooches functioned as an important factor in reproducing and continuously negotiating identity shared by certain women within the Scandinavian Iron Age elite.


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How to Cite

Røstad, I. M. (2021) “First Ladies: Ornamental Bow Brooches and the Negotiation of Elite Female Status and Roles in Iron-Age Norway (c. 400-900 AD)”, Current Swedish Archaeology, 29(1), pp. 89–121. doi: 10.37718/CSA.2021.10.



Research Articles