Viking Art

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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Viking Art


the art of the Vikings, produced between the late eighth and the 11th century. Examples include artifacts found in burial chambers (for example, the Oseberg burial, Norway) and in sepulchers on ships. Stelae and stones from this period, with runic inscriptions and with reliefs depicting complex stylized zoomorphic motifs and human figures, have been found in Scandinavia and on islands of the North Atlantic.

In the middle of the eighth century, the late animal style prevailed, with extremely stylized zoomorphic depictions that appear lost within the geometric interlacings of lines. In the late eighth and the ninth century, Viking art became more dynamic and expressive (for example, the heads of fantastic beasts, from Oseberg, ninth century; Museum of Viking Ships, Oslo). With the spread of Christianity in the late ninth and the tenth century, flat and ribbon-shaped interlaced lines were combined with depictions of human figures, animals, and Christian motifs. Ornamentation became greater in size. During the 11th century, the symbols of the lion, the snake, and plant life predominated in the decoration.

Viking structures included long dwellings with a gable roof supported by two or three rows of pillars. Stone or wooden walls were erected on a stone foundation. In Denmark, southern Sweden, and southern Norway, frame structures seem to have predominated. The remains of fortifications, circular in plan, and the foundations of wooden-framed boat-shaped houses have been discovered in Denmark (for example, at Aggersborg). The fortifications were surrounded by earthen ramparts and were divided into four equal sections by two roads.


Kendrick, T. D. Late Saxon and Viking Art. London, 1949.
Wilson, D. M., and O. Klindt-Jensen. Vikings Art. London, 1966.
The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
References in periodicals archive ?
At the Munkebo Kro Hotel, in the seaside village of the same name, I opted for a Viking-themed room which basically meant lots of animal pelts, Viking art and low lighting.
Viking Art: A Culture Show Special BBC Two, 8.30pm Whether tackling issues as diverse as the effects of Lego on architecture, or the best films of the year, there's always something interesting for arts fans here.
Graham-Campbell, a leading authority on Viking art and the author or editor of several previous books on the subject of Vikings in general, including The Cultural Atlas of the Viking World, offers this beautifully designed concise introduction to the art of the Viking Age placed in its historical and cultural context.
Viking Art provides a fine study of the art of the 'Viking Age' and covers the period from the first major Viking expeditions overseas in AD 800 to the establishment of Christianity in Scandinavia 300 years later.
For our meeting, we had handouts about the Icelandic sagas, the Vikings (both women and men), Viking art, Viking ships, Nordic mythology, as well as an author biography and photos and maps of Iceland and Greenland.
In a feat of chemistry imitating art, researchers have created a molecular version of a Borromean knot, an attractive pattern of three interlocking rings that commonly adorned Viking art and Renaissance architecture.
Hoards of buried booty at sites like Orme's head, Viking burials at Benllech and Viking art styles on the stone cross at Penmon are suggestive of both cultural interaction and Viking settlement.
Archaeologists and historians from Denmark and Norway, from Normandy and the Netherlands tell the lesser known stories of Viking Age ships and seafaring in the West, Frisia in Carolingian times, whether Vikings were in the lower Rhine area, the incursion of the Viking into the natural and cultural landscape of upper Normandy, the numismatic evidence for Vikings on the continent, a Thor's hammer found in Normandy, and Viking art in European churches.
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These Huddersfield University students helped out at a Viking Arts afternoon.