Viking ornament

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Style of ornament produced in Scandinavia and in Scandinavian colonies from C8 to C12, consisting of interlacing elements linked to zoömorphic forms in continuous complex designs. For architectural purposes there are three main styles: that featuring S-shaped intertwined animals, with bodies of even, ribbon-like form (Jelling(e) style —mid-C10); that employing semi-naturalistic animals and birds as well as dragon-like forms, with influences from Anglo-Saxon and Ottonian decoration (Ringerike style—C11); and that with extremely stylized animals, ribbon-shaped animals, and snakes, any animal-heads or -feet being reduced to elongated terminals, forming figure of eight and intertwining multiloop lacertine designs of great complexity (Urnes style—later C11). The Urnes style influenced Celtic, Hiberno-Romanesque, and Anglo-Saxon designs. A good example of Ringerike Norse or Viking ornament of the Ringerike type is the carving on the south doorway of the Church of Sts Mary and David, Kilpeck, Herefs. (c. 1140–5). Mingled with Celtic motifs, Viking ornament recurred in Art Nouveau design.

Glazier (1926);O. Jones (1868);Lewis & Darley (1986);Jane Turner (1996);Tschudi-Madsen (1967)

(a) Jellinge style. King Harald's runestone, Jelling, Denmark (c.960–85), showing a four-legged creature intertwined with a ribbon-like serpent. (b) C11 grave–slab from St Paul's churchyard, London, in the Ringerike style (named after the area near Oslo where the sandstone largely used for the carvings is found).

C12 carving, south door, Church of Sts Mary and David, Kilpeck, Herefs., showing Ringerike style of he snake-like dragon forms, also with affinities to Urnes style. (d) C11 carved ortal, Urnes Church, Norway.

Subjects: Architecture.

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