Viking Oseberg Styles And Where to Find Them?

Posted by Ms Elly on

Viking Oseberg Styles And Where to Find Them?

Art appears everywhere ever since the birth of humanity. The Vikings had some certain kinds of art during a certain period of time. By far, we have learnt 6 major Viking styles: Oseberg, Borre, Jelling, Mammen, Ringerike, and Urnes. This piece of writing focuses on the first Viking style in the Viking art timeline - Viking Oseberg Styles. 

The Oseberg style appeared in the Viking society in the first three-quarters of the 9th century. 

Viking Oseberg style

The Oseberg style was named after the Oseberg ship which is among the most well-preserved Viking ships on Earth. The Oseberg ship was discovered in a huge Viking burial mound. The archaeologists believed that the owner of the burial mound was not a normal figure. She (the owner) could be either a queen, a princess, or a seeress in the Viking society. The Oseberg ship was also buried with many luxurious things in the mound which suggested the high social rank of the woman inside. 

The motif of Oseberg style is now known as the gripping beast. The gripping beast motif is what helps us distinguish the early Viking style and those in the later period. 

Viking Oseberg Ship

Main features of the Oseberg style are the paws gripping around it, around the neighbouring beasts, and around its own body. In the Oseberg style, the heads of the animals were small but they had big and bulging eyes. According to Anne-Sofie Gräslund of Uppsala University

Its thin ribbonlike body is set off by large muscular shoulders and hips, and its legs end in paws, which grip tight to everything—to the edge of the ornamentation border, to neighbouring animals, or to its own body. The tigerlike beast appears filled with energy and seems to cling to the assemblage at all costs. (Fitzhugh & Ward, 63-64).

Viking Oseberg style


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  • Hi Bjørg Huldra Heyn, good point! She could have been a Völva (female seer) in her time to deserve such luxurious burial mound. We discussed this point before and you can check it out on BaviPower Viking Blog Post:
    What Inside the Oseberg Ship One of The Greatest Viking Ships (

    Ms Elly on

  • The woman hos was burried in Oseberg was a volve, she was an wery old woman over 70 years old, ordenary age was ca 35 years. A volve is a wise woman who can and know things not everyone can and know.

    Bjørg Huldra Heyn on

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