Never mind Smaug in The Hobbit or Viserion in Game of Thrones, the dragons of Viking age are far more scary and likely to give you nightmares. It is no surprise the Vikings carved dragon heads for the ends of their longships. The sight of a dragon head on an approaching Viking ship would surely have been enough to make you run for your life. And with good reason. For the Vikings themselves, the dragon head on the prow of the ship may also have been enough to scare away the sea monsters lurking in the depths ready to devour them.
The dragons mentioned in the Norse sagas are creatures of diabolical design. Like the corpse eating Nidhogg. Nidhogg lives under the roots of Yggdrasil – the tree of life – and eats its roots. Why? To bring the world into chaos. Nice.
Or how about Jormungandr? If you think the dragons you know of already are big, imagine one that is so large it stretches completely round the world and is able to grasp its own tail. Yes, that's Jormungandr. Be afraid. Be very afraid. If the sagas are to be believed, although Jormungandr will meet its end at Ragnarok, the fight will cost Thor his own life...something for you superhero fans to think about.
The Vikings certainly knew the power and symbolism of the dragon. There are depictions on buildings, carved into runestones and created in fine jewellery. The dragon, or serpent, was most likely thought to convey the ideas of strength and bravery. So wearing a dragon motif would symbolise these ideas. It's also clear the dragon symbol would be used to ward off other beasts and creatures, so it could offer protection too. This may be the reason why the dragon is found so widely on everyday objects, and why it persisted to be used even in the early Christian period in Scandinavia, as in the carvings on Norway's stave churches at Urnes and Borgund.
Our own dragon bracelet design is modeled on an archaeological find on the island Gotland, Sweden. Perhaps just the perfect thing to be wearing if you encounter something breathing fire on a dark night...
Take a look: