Saturday, 14 October 2017

The Icelandic Foss Hammer-an Original Second Copy?

In this article I am revisiting once more the issue of the famous Icelandic Foss Hammer as it would appear that my original article on the subject has gained some traction on the Internet and is provoking discussion. I refer my readers to the earlier articles The Icelandic Wolf's  Hammer  and  Further Reflections on the Icelandic Wolf's Hammer

It has been pointed out to me that one possible explanation for the Wolf's Hammer is the apparent resemblance to the symbol known as the St Peter's Cross. After further reflection I must reject this hypothesis. I would point out that if the intended symbolism of the Foss Hammer was Christian then the artist responsible has failed miserably for it is clearly a heathen amulet. The head of the Hammer is that of either a wolf or a dragon. Both the wolf and the dragon are most definitely heathen creatures and feature prominently in Norse mythology. I gravitate towards the idea that it is a wolf, not a dragon that is being represented. The chain that would have threaded through the aperture is symbolic of the wolf Fenrir gripping or being held by the magical chain Gleipnir forged by the dwarves from 6 magical items:-the sound of a cat's footfall, the beard of a woman, the roots of a mountain, the sinews of a bear, the breath of a fish and the spittle of a bird.

Whether the head of the Hammer be that of a wolf or a dragon it is totally out of place on a supposedly Christian pendant. St Peter's Crosses were not particularly prevalent in northern Europe and in any case they would not or should not have contained heathen symbolism. The cross feature which appears in the intersection of the arms is equilateral in nature and not representative of the cross of Christ. My readers will be aware that an equilateral cross is an ancient Germanic symbol which predates Christianity by thousands of years. The arms of the Hammer are not just rounded but clublike in nature and indeed the whole shape is reminiscent of the Eyrarland Thor statue which was also discovered in Akureyri, Iceland at Eyrarland Farm in either 1815 or 1816 and dates back to about 1000 CE. The Hammer which is being gripped by Thor has three clublike terminals as does the Foss Hammer. The resemblance is unmistakeable and cannot be denied by any impartial observer. The Foss Hammer dates shortly before this time and it is clear that this form is how the Icelanders depicted the Mjolnir and appears to be unique to that island. No one would claim that the statue of Thor is clutching a Christian cross so likewise there should be no assumption that the Foss Hammer is a Christian cross either. One cannot have it both ways.

It has been argued that the Foss Hammer was deliberately designed as a hybrid in order that a follower of the old Gods may escape persecution by the church but this argument is erroneous as we know that the Foss Hammer dates back to the 9th century when the old religion was still predominant so to suggest that anyone at this time would have been subject to persecution by the church is nonsensical and thus must be rejected. It is surprising though how this error has been mindlessly repeated all over the Internet, usually by commercial websites which sell reproductions of it. One still sees this argument though being uttered by so-called academics too. If the Hammer was designed to be worn on occasions as a cross then it requires an explanation as to why there is no aperture on the bottom of the Hammer to thread a chain through?

I have often questioned whether the Icelandic Hammer was a one off or if any other copies were made at the time. Recently I discovered that another amulet, resembling the Foss one was offered for sale on an auction website:
The wording of the auction suggests that this is an original historical model and this is reflected in the high price. Whether it is authentic I am not in a position to say but if it is then this is an extremely exciting discovery and I am puzzled as to why there is a dearth of publicity regarding this find! No information is given regarding the place of origin of this second Hammer so if anyone has any further information about this I would like to hear from you.