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Viking Age Art

Heathen Viking Age art fascinates with its hammers, ravens, dragons, lions and snakes, many in complex interlace designs and some in clever combinations (such as a beast head and a raven). An overlapping sequence of styles is more or less (often less) recognizable;
from Oseberg, Borre and Jelling to Mammen, Ringerike and Urnes. Some representative examples are shown below.

Runic inscriptions are similarly evocative of the age. The four examples shown below are on a silver coin, a lead disk, a piece of sheet metal and a lead spindle whorl.

I grew up in Yorkshire, surrounded by Norse place names (including the main streets of my home town) and it was fun to find familiar words during the years we later lived in Norway. There was Jorvik at York; the battleground of Stamford Bridge (site of the battle in 1066, following the burning of Scarborough in September of that year); and the Gauber High Pasture "Viking Site" at Ribblehead (excavated by Alan King).

In subsequent years (1987, 1995) there were visits to Lindisfarne, site of the first well-known Viking attack against England in 793 and Iona, which was raided by Vikings in 802. We saw a tower built to defend against such attacks in Ireland at Monisterboice (2008). More recently (2013) we stopped to see the famous Viking cross at Gosforth, Cumbria, an evocative piece of Viking art and symbolism. In Iceland (1988), I visited Thingvellir and saw Ingólfsshofđi (said to be where Ingólfur Arnarson originally landed in 874).

The form of the Viking ships was long an inspiration and in 2001 we visited the Viking Ship museum in Oslo to see them. We also visited Roskilde in Denmark, famous for its five Viking ships. In the Stavanger area where we lived there were various Viking relics to be seen, such as the Klepp runestone, the Havrsfjord site of Harald Fairhair’s victory in 872 and the Talgje church runes. The streets in Stavanger gave me the meaning of the street names in Leeds (Briggate and Kirkgate). I was pleased to find I could read some of the runestones on my last visit to the Stavanger museum (2012).

On Orkney (2008) we saw the Brough of Birsay Viking longhouses and enjoyed the puffins. The runic graffiti in Orkahaugr (Maeshowe) was very entertaining, in a magical burial mound ("tomb raider") context. According to the Orkneyinga Saga (Chapter 93): "On the thirteenth day of Christmas [this was 1153] they travelled on foot over to Firth. During a snowstorm they took shelter in Maeshowe and two of them (his men) went insane which slowed them down badly so that by the time they reached Firth it was night time."

In Venice (2004) we saw the weathered runic inscription on the Piraeus stone lion (plundered by the Venetians in 1687) and, in 2006, I visited the area of the Baltic-Volga waterway used by the Rus' for migration, trade and adventure.

There is even a connection between our time in Oman and Viking culture, given the appearance of Arabian silver in Viking hoards and the use of Arabian dirhams and cowrie shells in their jewelry.

Most recently I visited L'Anse aux Meadows (August 29th 2014), an evocative place recording the Norse presence in North America about a thousand years ago.

( http://lifeartearth.blogspot.com/2013/10/viking-art.html )
Viking Age Art Styles
Viking Age Art Styles
The Hammer and the Cross
The Hammer and the Cross
Runes
Runes
Strap ends and connectors
Strap ends and connectors
Amulets
Amulets
Rings
Rings
Bracelets
Bracelets
Brooches
Brooches
Necklaces
Necklaces
Weapons
Weapons
Commerce
Commerce
Viking Places
Viking Places