France: L'Ile de Groix

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Completion Rating
This article's completion rating is 3 out of 5. Article data has been collected but still needs to be summarised.

The Viking ship burial found at L'lle de Groix in 1906 is well known for it's unique shield bosses. Although mentioned in many books I found it difficult to find our more about the other objests found along side the shield bosses. This article aims to resolve this.

In 1940 Shetelig's 'Viking Antiquities in Great Britain and Ireland, Volume IV' [BJORN & SHETELIG 1940] summarised the original french 1908 journal report. [CHATELLIER & PONTOIS 1908]:p.137-232. It is the authors intention to try and marry Bjorn's and Shetelig's summaries (in green text) with the images from the original 1908 French journal article. Where more information has been gained since the 1940's this has been added after the 1940's summary.


L'lle de Groix Sword O.jpg
Sword Type O
L'lle de Groix Sword Reconstruction.jpg

The guard and the cross-piece of the pommel of a sword, of the five lobed type Jan Petersen O. Both pieces are of iron plated with silver and decorated with a peculiar scroll patterns, composed of ribbons filled with dots, resembling Jan Petersen fig.105. Scanty fragments only of the blade are extant. [BJORN & SHETELIG 1940]

L'lle de Groix Sword R.jpg
Sword Type R

Fragment of the guard of a sword of iron, with plain bronze inlay, and three-lobed pommel of the same sword, Jan Petersen type R.[BJORN & SHETELIG 1940]

L'lle de Groix Sword Scabbard Chape.jpg
Sword Scabbard Chape

The ferrule of a sword's scabbard, of bronze, with open-work ornament presenting the figure of a bird with wings spread. [BJORN & SHETELIG 1940]

L'lle de Groix Spear heads.jpg
3 Spear heads

Small fragments of three spear-heads, one of them of Jan Petersen type I. R522.[BJORN & SHETELIG 1940]

L'lle de Groix Axe heads.jpg
2 Axe heads

Fragments of two axes, both of them apparently of Jan Petersen type G.[BJORN & SHETELIG 1940]

L'lle de Groix Arrow heads.jpg
8 Arrow heads

Fragments of 8 arrow-heads of iron, R539.[BJORN & SHETELIG 1940]

L'lle de Groix Scandinavian Shield bosses.jpg
17 Scandinavian Shield bosses

Fragments of 17 shield-bosses all of them badly broken and defective. The majority are of the regular Norse type R562, hemispherical, with a flat rim fastened to the board by four rivets, and with a slight contraction between the boss and the rim. [BJORN & SHETELIG 1940]

L'lle de Groix Other Shield bosses.jpg
4 Other Shield bosses

Four of the bosses present forms never found in Scandinavia. The boss itself is plain and rounded, somewhat steeper than the hemisphere. In two of them the rim is provided with six pointed projections, each of them with three rivets, while two others have the rim provided with eight rounded projections, each of them likewise bearing three rivets. One fragment of a rim shows a densely set series of rivet-holes and the border finely indented and the border finely indented.[BJORN & SHETELIG 1940]

L'lle de Groix Knife.jpg

Fragment of the blade of an iron knife.[BJORN & SHETELIG 1940]


L'lle de Groix Anvil.jpg

Small iron anvil, R393.

L'lle de Groix Hammer.jpg
Hammer head

Hammer head of iron.

L'lle de Groix Smith's tongs.jpg
Smith's tongs

Pair of smith's tongs, R391.

L'lle de Groix Auger.jpg

Iron auger, R418, and fragment of a larger rod, possibly another auger.

L'lle de Groix Draw plate.jpg
Draw plate

Implement for wire-drawing, R398, or perhaps more likely for making mails, viz. a flat piece of iron pierced by a series of holes of different size.

No Picture 2 Awls

Fragment of two iron awls.

L'lle de Groix Celt.jpg

Fragment of a socketed celt(?) of iron, R401.

Angled chisel

Classed as an unknown object by de Chatellier and Pontois in 1908. In 1996 it was identified as a bent lance head by Arbman and Nilsson and then again by Muller-Wille in 1978. In 1985 Wilson pointed out that the object is similar to that held by a figure on the Bayeux Tapestry. Price in 1989 has then suggested that this must have been an angled wood working chisel.[PRICE 1989]:p.74/392


L'lle de Groix Small Bronze Buckle.jpg
Small bronze buckle

Small buckle of bronze, resembling R605

L'lle de Groix Large Iron Buckle.jpg
5 large iron buckles

5 plain buckles of iron, 5cms, wide, probably belonging to a horse's harness.

L'lle de Groix Whetstone.jpg

Whetstone of schist, 11cms. long, of regular square section, with a hole for suspension at one end.

L'lle de Groix Gold Ring.jpg
Gold Ring

Gold finger-ring, made of a thick plain string, tapering towards the ends which are joined by a double knot.

No Picture Gold Leaves

A number of minute pressed gold leaves and fragments of fine gold filaments that most probably were applied for the decoration of a dress.

L'lle de Groix Garment Hook.jpg
2 Silver garment hooks

Two silver plaques, in the form of an oblong triangle, the square base bearing three small holes for rivets, and the point terminating in a small hook. Probably a kind of clasps for the dress. Length 6.4cms

Plaited chain of silver wire

Fragments of a plaited chain of silver wire, like the chain from Ballinaby, Islay, two beads of silver filigree and other small silver beads. Remains of silver plating from some other object.

L'lle de Groix Silver Button.jpg
Silver Button

A silver button.[BJORN & SHETELIG 1940]

L'lle de Groix Ornamented iron and copper alloy object.jpg
Ornamented iron and copper alloy object

An ornamented iron and copper alloy object. Identified as being too wide to be part of a sword pommel and is also unlikely to be part of a brooch [CHATELLIER & PONTOIS 1908]:p.181 fig.37

Penannular Brooch

Fragments of a penannular brooch of bronze.


L'lle de Groix Playing Pieces.jpg
19 Playing pieces

A set of 19 draughtsmen of bone, R474.

L'lle de Groix Dice.jpg
2 Dice

2 dice, R475.

L'lle de Groix Bronze bowl (A).jpg
Bronze bowl (A)

Bronze bowl, with slightly convex bottom, the side outwards sloping, and projecting rim. Close to the bottom a crack has been repaired by a small bit of bronze fastened with a rivet. The bowl is 27cms. wide, 8—9cms. high. A similar bowl has been found in a grave at Glappestad, Norway (B.4844).

L'lle de Groix Bronze bowl (B).jpg
Bronze bowl (B)

Fragments of a bronze bowl of about the same size as the preceding specimen. When seen in-situ it seemed to be provided with ears which were, however, not to be found among the fragments after the transport.

L'lle de Groix Iron Cauldron.jpg
Iron cauldron

Cauldron of iron sheet, 40cms. high, 16cms. wide, with flat bottom and projecting rim.

L'lle de Groix Iron Chain.jpg
Iron chain

Fragments of an iron chain, composed of narrow links, each 5.5cms. long. Possibly for the suspension of the cauldron.

L'lle de Groix Irish metal-work.jpg
Irish metal-work

Fragment of bronze, a thick oblong plaque, 2cms. wide at the defective lower end, upwards narrowing to 1.5cms. where it terminates in a solid string of circular section, slightly curved. At the transition between the plaque and the string, there are two lateral projections and, on the front side, a projecting animal head. The front shows traces of a linear ornament and of enamel. It is most probably a piece of Irish metal-work, but the destination of the object cannot be ascertained.

L'lle de Groix Escutcheon.jpg

A kind of an escutcheon of bronze, 8cms. high, 7cms. wide, in the shape of a broad lozenge, decorated with a central boss surrounded by an equally raised circle. In the corners three rivets, with convex decorated heads, fasten the appliqué to an inner sheet of bronze, possibly the remains of some kind of vessel.

L'lle de Groix Circular iron mounting.jpg
Circular iron mounting

Fragment of a circular iron mounting, 7.6cms. wide, possibly for the edge of a small bucket or a cup.

L'lle de Groix Padlock.jpg

Remains of a padlock and lock plate. Inside was found some molten lead.[p.193]

L'lle de Groix Small Cramp.jpg
10 Small Cramps

Each with 3 rivets much like the bosses. 5 to 7mm thick and of unknown use.[p.193]

L'lle de Groix Iron Cramp.jpg
2 Iron Cramps

The first is ornamented. [p.193]


No Picture Iron and copper alloy fragments

A considerable number of indeterminable iron fragments and bits of bronze from destroyed objects, mountings on chests and caskets etc..

Over 800 clincher rivets

More than 800 clincher rivets, the original number certainly having exceeded a thousand, and some 200 nails, beside many fragments. The majority of both kinds have certainly come from a Viking ship cremated on the pyre. But part of the rivets are surprisingly small and suggest that one or more boats followed the ship, as was the case in the Gokstad burial.

No Picture Cremated bones

Cremated bones. According to the expert examination there are fragments of skull and vertebrae which indicate a person of mature age, while a fragment of a long bone seems to belong to an individual not yet adult. Beside the human remains, bones of dog and of some small birds were recognised.