Around 950 AD, a female was buried with her worldly goods on the Isle of Man. From a time when Vikings ruled the land and seas, it is more common to find male burials with status symbols. However, the Pagan Lady was buried in a Christian cemetery with her fine necklace.
The beads came from far and wide – Britain and Europe – and some were 300 years old when the Pagan Lady wore the necklace.
The burial demonstrates not only the real existence of powerful and high status females in a period of history that is usually dominated by the males, but also the ancient appreciation of ornamentation, of personal decoration – of pretty things. A question remains over who she was, although we now know that she was a traveller who was not Island born, but came here and was finally buried on St. Patrick’s Isle.
Other burial goods have been interpreted as domestic trappings – she was the head of the home. But perhaps she was also something else – a wise woman, a healer, a shaman.
Pagan Lady illustration courtesy of Manx artist Juan Moore.