The Art of the Vikings

Posted July 31st, 2013

Art History, Documentaries, Sweden, Videos

Art of the Vikings
In the autumn of 1915, on the shore of Lewis, a group of ornaments buried during the Viking period were found. Some of these ornaments were bronze brooches, ornaments that had detailed interlaced patterns, buckles and an iron knife. Looking at the size of the burial, a Scandinavian woman probably wore some of these ornaments since it is typical of this time period. These ornaments are also influenced by Celtic art. This is evident in the large oval shape of the brooches. The brooches have reappeared. Seven of the brooches were connected together by bands of metal sand the spaces between them formed sunk panels that were decorated with animal ornament. This decoration can be attributed to earlier representation of lions or other creatures from Roman art that gradually lost their identity when northern artists copied them and became to have strange shapes. At Pierowall in Orkney a Viking cemetery was dug up and a penannular brooch found. It has very interesting design since it combines the styles of Celtic and Scandinavian art. It is very unique of the Viking period, it has a diameter of 2 inches and left traces of gilding. The center of the ornament is now empty and might have been filled with a piece of amber. Surrounding the empty space is a band of chevrons and wider band of interlaced work formed of three cords making alternately a closed and an open loop.
Technical Analysis

During the 11th century many of the Scandinavians became Christians. However, their abstract art was still persisting. The decoration of the wooden portal of the stave church located in Urnes, Norway is abstractly made up of animal forms that tightly inter-wine with flexible plant stalks following a spiral rhythm. This is one of the few remains left from this time which were later incorporated in the walls of a 12th-century church. During this time while the abstract and animal motifs were spreading in art, the northern Europe Christian missionaries were building monasteries and sponsoring art with Christian content which was very different from art created before.

The Art of the Vikings – (From the series “BBC Secret Knowledge”)

Through interpretations of some of the archaeological treasures of the Swedish National Museum, Dr Janina Ramirez of Oxford University explores the fascinating wealth of Viking culture and its long-lasting influence on the British Isles.

-> The Vikings (780–1100) at Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History
-> The Viking Heritage