Prehistoric pictures are a special sort of source material. Pictures are not random products – they were created to convey messages. This statement applies especially to the oral culture of the Viking Age. However, Viking Age pictures rarely occur as independent monuments. More often, they appear as animal art on metal artefacts. The starting point for my reflections is the grandiose brooch from Yelets, Russia. Here, we find an anthropomorphic figure with a bird-like body, possibly linking the object to the princely House of Rurik. Being a female dress adornment, we might ask whether it represents the might of the dynasty or the power of an individual female known from written sources.
The project was financially supported by The Helge Ax:on Johnson Foundation, The Swedish Institute, Svenska Fornminnesföreningen and The Royal Swedish Academy of Letters, History and Antiquities (Montelius travel grant).