S-shaped temple rings

S-Shaped temple rings are found in multiple early medieval (generally 9th- 13thc ) East and West Slavic contexts, including Russian, Czech, German, and Polish. The name comes from the S shaped terminal on one end of the ring. There are several typologies in use, differentiating by the treatment of the other end of the ring, open/closed rings, and/or the number of strands of wire used.  (Ottenwelter et al, Hanig) This type may also be called Poliane/Polyane, particularly in Russian contexts. (Beaton)

Ottenwelter’s typology. Source: Ottenwelter et al.
Hanig’s typology. Source: Hanig

Temple rings /temple ornaments are jewelry worn at the temples in various ways by medieval Slavic and Russian women and girls. S-shaped temple rings have been reconstructed as being worn on various headbands, either fabric or leather, as seen below, as well as worn as earrings, or in the hair. (Ottenwelter, Ristovska)

Reconstruction of wearing of temple rings. Source: Museum Düppel, viaLandschaftsmuseum Obermain auf der Plassenburg ob Kulmbach
Temple rings on a braided leather band, Leubingen, Thuringia. Source: Slawische Schläfenringe
Temple rings from Weismain, ca 950. Source: West Slavs in Archaeology

Materials, diameter, and wire gauge all vary, with some trends seen: finer gauge/larger diameter temple rings trend later, perhaps based on access to drawplates (Ottenwelter et al) and bronze and other copper alloys predominate with silver in second, with a few gilded/ tinned finds.(Hannig, Ottenwelter et al, Ryabinin 1986 pg 59, Ryabinin 2001) Gold occurs but is rare.

Czech Republic

Plated, tinned and gilded temple rings from Vbrno, Czech Republic. Source: Ottenwelter et al
Temple rings from Wothansburg, Czech Republic. Source: Slawische Schläfenringe 


Temple ring from Mockersdorf, Germany. Source: Museum Cheb.


Silver temple rings from Thuringia. Source: Slawische Schläfenringe


Temple rings from Northern Bavaria. 1-12 are s-shaped. Source: Hannig


Gold temple ring from Dziekanowice, Poland. Source: Muzeum Pierwszych Piastów na Lednicy.


A silver temple ring from Opole, Poland. Source: Muzeum Śląska Opolskiego


Bronze temple rings, Poland. Source: Brzeziński
Silver and Bronze temple rings, Poland. Source: Brzeziński
Silver temple rings, Poland. Source: Brzeziński

Former Yugoslavia

10th-11thc silver temple rings, From former county of Temesvár, now divided between the former Yugoslavia and Romania. Source: British Museum



Temple rings from Kostroma, Russia. 4 is an example of the S-shaped type. Source: Ryabinin 1986
Silver temple ring from 10th c. Pskov, Russia. Source: Enisova
9th-10th c electrum temple ring. Listed as Scandinavian. Source: Metropolitan Museum of Art.


More finds in Hungary and Romania

My Process
I made a batch of S-shaped temple rings in a variety of diameters out of   80/20 bronze wire. First I cut the wires to size, and then flattened one end with the rolling mill. In period this would have been forged out with a hammer.

After annealing, I bent the end of each section into the characteristic s shape.

Finally, the rings were bent around an appropriately sized mandrel. The smallest and biggest sizes were the hardest.


“Collection Object Details.” British Museum. Web. 17 May 2017. <http://www.britishmuseum.org/research/collection_online/collection_object_details.aspx?objectId=67915&partId=1&gt;

Dziekanowice Stan.22.” Dziekanowice Stan.22. 08 Dec. 2016.<http://www.lednicamuzeum.pl/strona,dziekanowice-stan22.html&gt;

Earring | Viking | The Met.” The Metropolitan Museum of Art, I.e. The Met Museum. Web. 17 May 2017. <http://www.metmuseum.org/art/collection/search/468364?sortBy=Relevance&amp;what=Ear+ornaments&amp;ft=Scandinavia+ear&amp;offset=0&amp;rpp=20&amp;pos=2&gt;

MŚO-A-N-1042/98, OPOLE-NOWA WIEŚ KRÓLEWSKA | Zbiory Online Muzeum Śląska Opolskiego. Web. 17 May 2017. <http://www.mso-archeologia.pl/node/8268&gt;

Muzeum Cheb. Web. 17 May 2017. <http://www.muzeumcheb.cz/vystav/2014/archeon/pdf/05.pdf&gt;

“Slawische Schläfenringe.” Slawische Schläfenringe. Web. 08 Dec. 2016.<http://www.landschaftsmuseum.de/Seiten/Lexikon/SR-slaw.htm&gt;

West Slavs in Archaeology. Web. 05 May. 2017. <http://west-slavs.tumblr.com&gt;

Beatson, Peter. Temple Rings in Rus. Web. 27 Aug. 2016.<http://members.ozemail.com.au/~chrisandpeter/trmain/tr1main.html&gt;.

Brzeziński, Wojciech. Skarby wieków średnich: katalog wystawy = Treasures of the Middle Ages : catalogue of the exhibition. Warszawa: Państwowe Muzeum Archeologiczne, 2007.

Eniosova, N. V. Исследование химического состава металла и техники изготовления украшений и бытовых предметов из камерных погребений Старовознесенского некрополя

Hannig, Rita. “S-Schleifenringe in Frühmittelalterlichen Gräberfeldern Nordostbayerns.” Aspekte Der Archäologie Des Mittelalters Und Der Neuzeit: Festschrift Für Walter Sage. By Ingolf Ericsson, Hans Losert, and Walter Sage. Bonn: R. Habelt, 2003. 174-85. Print.

Ottenwelter, E., J. Hosek, and J. Ded. “S-shaped Temple Rings from Vrbno, Characterization of Manufacturing Processes.” Metalla. Proc. of Archaeometallurgy in Europe III, Deustches Bergbau-Museum, Bochum, Germany. Vol. 4. 199-200. Print. Ser. 2011. <https://www.academia.edu/30627797/S-shaped_temple_rings_from_Vrbno_characterization_of_manufacture_processes&gt;

Ristovska, Natalja. Temple Pendants in Medieval Rus: How were they worn? Britishmuseum.org” Web. Aug 26 2016. <https://.britishmuseum.org/pdf/18%20Ristovska-opt-sec.pdf&gt;

Ryabinin, E. A. (Evgeniĭ Aleksandrovich), and Anatoliĭ Nikolaevich Kirpichnikov. Kostromskoe Povolzhʹe v Ėpokhu Srednevekovʹi︠a︡. Leningrad: Leningrad : Izd-vo “Nauka, ” Leningradskoe Otd-nie, 1986. Print.

Ryabinin, E. A. Vodskaiï¸ a︡ Zemliï¸ a︡ Velikogo Novgoroda: Rezulʹtaty Arkheologicheskikh IssledovaniÄ­ 1971-1991 Gg. S.-Peterburg: “DmitriÄ­ Bulanin”, 2001. Print.


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