Jewellery often occur in women’s graves from the period c. AD 400–650/700 in Scandinavia. On the basis of theories of ethnicity as a dynamic, situational and multidimensional phenomenon, and the concept of dress/costume as an active social element, four different types of Scandinavian jewellery, cruciform and square-headed brooches, clasps and conical brooches are examined as potential ethnic and/or cultural markers. An analysis of the geographical, chronological and contextual distribution of the selected types of jewellery shows that they acquire a function as an instrument in social, cultural and/or ethnic strategies of distinction during this period. As part of a dress/costume, the jewellery functions as a social field of signals. On one level the jewellery is used in ethnic discourses between a Germanic/Norse and Sami population and contributes to a strengthening of ethnic boundaries between the different cultures. At another level the jewellery functions as a means in negotiations of various local and regional groups within the Germanic/Norse culture. Furthermore, the jewellery is used to express different super-regional / Pan Scandinavian identities at the same time that it is involved in ethnic discourses that stretch across the North Sea to England and the Continent. The analysis shows that there is a dynamic between the emergence and development of political entities / petty kingdoms and ethnic/cultural groups throughout the period. The political situation continuously influences the manifestation of ethnic/cultural groups while the ongoing ethnic articulation has an effect on the existing socio-political structures. It is shown that women play an active part in the (re)production and negotiation of ethnic and/or cultural groups in the Migration and early Merovingian period, and this challenge earlier theories that ethnicity is a phenomenon which almost exclusively is associated with men/warriors in this period.