Art Reviews, Viking Art - Oseberg Style (9th c)
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The Briefest Art Review: Oseberg Woodwork

Detail Oseberg Ship. Source: The Viking Archive.
Detail of the Oseberg ship (© The Viking Age Archive).

My husband went to visit Oslo a few years ago. Lucky him! Of course, I nudged him to go a see the Oseberg ship. He came back with this beautiful image that is now the header image of The Viking Age Archive.

To find out to which part of the ship this carving belongs, I have been digging my way through the Internet. Correct me if I’m wrong – but I think this is a part of a band of carving along the bow keel of the ship.

And what a ship it is. It’s huge at 22m long and 5m wide. Up to 30 rowers could take a seat on its benches. The ship was found in a grave mound and chamber dating to 834. Some parts of the ship, though, date to c. 800 and scholars believe the vessel itself might be even older than that.

It’s also a spectacular ship in every other way. There’s a richness in detail of carvings and woodwork on the ship, richness in its grave goods, and, of course, the tantalising question who the two women in the grave might be. There is no question why this is the most famous of all Viking ships and graves.

As such, is it considered so important that the earliest Viking Art style is named for it, the Oseberg style. And the main characteristic of this style is… the gripping beast as you can see in the photo above!

More on the Oseberg ship: Bonde, N., & Christensen, A. (1993). ‘Dendrochronological dating of the Viking Age ship burials at Oseberg, Gokstad and Tune, Norway.’ Antiquity, 67 (256), 575-583. doi:10.1017/S0003598X00045774
More on the Oseberg style: Jonas Lau Markussen‘s website.

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