Novgorod Style Temple Rings

Two pairs of temple rings based on the Novgorod style, forged from silver and copper respectively. I used a slightly different technique for each set. 

Temple rings or temple ornaments are a type of jewelry found throughout areas of Russian, Slavic and Byzantine influence from approximately 500 CE throughout the medieval period. They are found in female graves at the temple/head/ear area, and are often considered a marker of Slavic identity, and have been suggested to signal a more specific tribal affiliation, such as Krivichi, Polonian, Novgorod Slovene,  Radimichi, Viatichi, or  Severian. These ‘tribal’ designators are also used to classify temple rings by shape. The metals used could be bronze, other copper alloys, iron, or less commonly gold or silver. 

Types of temple rings.  From Beaton. 

Temple rings are worn near the temple, but there are many ways to accomplish this, from as an earring to braided into the hair, or attached to or suspended from a headband or headdress. Multiples of the same or different type of temple ring are attested as well. 

I wore them strung on a headband. 

10th c.  From Tomsinskii. 

12th c.  From Rybakov.

Size reference. From Beaton

I selected approx 2inch diameter as being a median size in the finds. 

I used copper  for ease of working and accessibility, and fine silver for ease of working and to match my examples. Unalloyed copper, while available, is found very infrequently as a temple ring. Copper alloys and silver are the most common. 

Based on experimentation, I believe there are multiple ways to make Novgorod style temple rings. I selected forged processes based on the observed differences in thickness between flanges and wire sections, as well as the grooves and twists in the wire sections that can be explained by forging. Compare the details in the transition from wire to flange.

Both pairs of rings were forged from wire. At this timeframe both drawn and rolled wire were available. Drawn wire uses a draw plate after forging down to a larger square wire, and rolled wire is a square wire twisted and rolled between two rocks to smooth and round it. 

For the copper pair I started with premade wire, and forged lumps where the flanges would be. I then gradually worked on lengthening the wire and forming the flanges. 

Once the flanges were formed, I bent the piece into a ring, flattened it, and applied decoration with punches. Finally, I chiseled off one wire section to better match my examples. 

For the silver rings I started with a cast silver ingot, hammered that into square stock, used a rolling mill for the last portion of extension, and then twisted it, finishing the process by rolling it to smooth between two rocks. 

This time I formed the flanges first , and then lengthened the wire sections slightly. This gave me less material to work with, and required more hammer control to correctly shape the flanges, but was much faster. 

Again, the piece was bent into a ring, flattened, decorated ( this time with engraving), and trimmed. 

Thanks to Bill Dawson/William Beornson for studio time and technical advice. 

Full documentation:

Part 2

Part 3


“Medieval Novgorod.” Novgorod Metal Artifacts. Web. 01 Oct. 2016.<;

Beaton, Peter. Temple Rings in Rus. Web. 27 Aug. 2016.<;.

Brisbane, Mark, N. A. Makarov, E. N. Nosov, and Katherine Judelson. The Archaeology of Medieval Novgorod in Context: Studies in Centre/periphery Relations. 2012. Print.

Cahill, Mary. Working with wire—the functional and decorative uses of gold wire in Bronze Age Ireland, 2200–700 BC. ‘Relics of old decency – archaeological studies in later prehistory – a festschrift for Barry Raftery’ eds. G. Cooney, K. Becker, J. Coles, M. Ryan and S. Sievers. Wordwell 2010. Print. 

Entwistle, Christopher, and Noël Adams. Intelligible Beauty: Recent Research on Byzantine Jewellery. London: British Museum, 2010. Print.

Gormin, V. V., Liudmila Yarosh, and V. E. Barnev. Novgorod: Art Treasures and Architectural Monuments, 11th-18th Centuries: Architecture, Frescoes, Archaeological Artefacts, Minor Arts, Icons, Illuminated Mss. Leningrad: Aurora Art, 1984. Print.

Petrova, E. N., C. Griffith Mann, Peter Bray, and Kenneth MacInnes. Sacred Arts and City Life: The Glory of Medieval Novgorod. Baltimore: Palace Editions, 2005. Print.

Ristovksa, Natalja. Temple Pendants in Medieval Rus: How were they worn?” Web. Aug 26 2016. <;

Rybakov, Boris Aleksandrovich. Russian Applied Art of Tenth-thirteenth Centuries. Leningrad, Aurora, 1971. Print.

Thompson, M. W. Novgorod the Great; Excavations at the Medieval City Directed by A.V. Artsikhovsky and B.A. Kolchin. New York: Praeger, 1967. Print.
Tomsinskii, S. V. Drevnaia Rus. Saint Petersburg: Mvou Irmumaz, 2007. Print. 

Zhuravlev, Andrey, Ed. Sokrovisha Oikymeni: Pered Nashestviem. Moscow: Book House, 2005. Print. 


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