The spur goad from Skegrie in Scania, Sweden: Evidence of Elite Interaction Between Viking Age Scandinavians and Western Slavs
By Leszek Gardeła, Kamil Kajkowski and Bengt Söderberg
Fornvännen: Journal of Swedish Antiquarian Research, Vol. 114:2 (2019)
Abstract: The present paper focuses on a small metal artefact discovered in 2008 during archaeological excavations that preceded the construction of the E6 road leading from Trelleborg to Vellinge in Scania, Sweden. The object under consideration is a copper-alloy goad which originally formed part of a very particular type of Viking Age spurs known from the West Slavic area, predominantly from modern-day Poland.
Spurs of this kind are lavishly decorated with animal motifs, probably referring to pre-Christian Slavic mythology, and it is argued that they were emblematic objects used by West Slavic militarized elites which emerged in the turbulent time of state formation in the late tenth and eleventh centuries AD. Due to their rich symbolic content, probably manifesting distinct group identity of their owners, it is highly unlikely that the zoomorphic spurs would have served as objects of trade and exchange. Therefore, the goad discussed in this paper is seen not as a foreign “import” but as important evidence of cultural interaction between the representatives of the highest echelons of Scandinavian and West Slavic societies.