Sunday, February 27, 2011

The Vikings/ Viking Art

The Urnes style (ab. 1050-1150)

The last  phase of Viking art is the Urnes style from ab. 1050-1150. It consists of a direct development from its predecessor Ringerike - and it is a refinement of the Ringerike style. The Urnes style has gracefully curved lines of different width - swelling, tapering - but always in a curve. The tendril clusters from Ringerike are abandoned. The Urnes style developed shortly before the middle of the eleventh century.

A silver bowl from Gotland, buried in ab. 1050, displays the principal characteristics. The bowl is a fine masterpiece of the silversmith. It is more restrained than usual in Viking art and might appeal more to modern eyes. It was hammered into shape from a flat sheet of silver, and the grooves of its body were beaten out. The interior is ornamented with an interlaced animal. The other ornament is a band below the rim with eight animals linked togeter in a row by palmettes, representing the sole survivals of the Ringerike foliage pattern. The ornamented areas were lightly gilded.

From Urnes church

The Urnes style takes its name from the woodcarving at a little church of Urnes in western Norway, a stavechurch dating from the twelfth century. The artist has created a new design based on the old combat motif, the animals and snakes are all biting their neighbours. The Ringerike great beast has become an effete and disdainful creature, where every detail has been attenuated. The beast has a certain elegance, like at the openwork brooch from Lindholm Høje ( North Jutland). The Urnes carvings are a unique survival, but this style would have been the style for many of the first churches in Scandinavia. The wooden fragment from the church at Hørning in Denmark (Mid-Jutland) indicates that the style was widespread during the century.
In Sweden it is common in rune-stones and on Gotland it is seen in a lively variant.

brooch, Lindholm Høje, DK


from Hørning church, DK

from Trondheim (furniture)

Excavations at Trondheim in Norway show how the fully developed Urnes style was in use to ornament major pieces of household furnishing, but also that is popularity was adapted at an every day level on objects like pins and spoons.

At the late Viking town of Lund (Skåne) was excavated a jeweller's workshop. He was casting bronze versions of the Lindholm Høje brooch during the early part of the twelfth century.

Source: Moesgård Archaeological Museum Århus. 

The Viking Art styles were:
1) Broa-Oseberg (ab. 800-850)
2) Borre (ab. 850-950)
3) Jelling (ab. 900-1000)
4) Mammen (ab. 950-1000)
5) Ringerike ( ab. 980-1080)
6) Urnes (ab. 1050-1150)

This is only a general idea of their respective durations, it is impossible to give them absolute dates.

Museum's-copy of dragon brooch, Sterling silver.
original brooch found in Roskilde, DK

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