Viking Art Styles
Viking art is based on the abstract animal forms from the migration period about 400 AD. The animals were contorted, writhing snakes and beasts whose actual shape is often barely recognizable. My favorate term from a fellow SCA’er was “Weaselopes” for the style of artwork. Such designs were applied to objects in daily use, for example swords, buckles, belt mounts, belt tips and brooches.
The Borre style dated from about 840 to 980, and is named after the bridle mounts from Borre in Norway. There are three main elements. A ring-chain motif: a two-stranded braid bound by a ring. A type of gripping beast with a ribbon body whose claws clasp the edge. A backward-looking animal with spirals on its hips and a pigtail.
The Jellinge style dated from about 870-1000. It is named for a silver cup from Jelling, Denmark. Each animal has a ribbon-like body that is outlined. Its head with a long pigtail and the upper jaw is extended. The creature was based on gripping beast found at Borre.
The Mammen style dated from about 960-1020. Animals now have fuller bodies instead of just lines. We still see spirals on the hips The new features are tendrils.
The Ringerike style dated from about 980-1090. Now thrusting tendrils tend to dominate the animals that they surround. The Anglo-Saxon artwork seems to have been the influence for this development.
Named for wood carvings at Urnes church, Norway. A high, round relief but as thin as a knife edge, and then a copy of the same pattern in a flat pattern. The motifs are a slender animal with only one front and back leg, and an animal head. The forms are very graceful, with wide loops.