Stave church portal, Åtrå church, Tinn, Telemark 1163-1189
Stave church portal, Sauland church, Hjartdal, Telemark c. 1200
You know me – I love museums. Kulturhistorisk museum (in Oslo, Norway), is one of my absolute favorites, and I have visited it numerous times. Never have I ever met anyone as excited as I am at museums. I take TONS of pictures, get down on one knee and speak softly to the wood carvings as I photograph them. To me, this is the best form of meditative exercise there is. Every time I behold these carvings feels like the first. There is always a new detail to take notice of, no matter how many times I’ve seen them. I think this goes without saying, but I adore norse wood carvings and one day I hope to have a replica of one of these as my front door… sigh… THAT would be absolute bliss.
Would you like to see more photos from this museum?
“Lom stave church was originally build around 1160. In the 17th century an extension onto the west transepts, a sacristy and the large central tower with a high steeple surrounded by four smaller towers were added. In the Middle Ages, Lom stave church was the most important church between Nidaros (Trondheim) and Hamar. Like today Lom was a busy crossroad between east and west. The church is decorated with acanthus baroque wood carvings. During the excavations in 1973, a lot of interesting things were found; the largest collection of old coins ever found in Norway, and a love letter written in runic characters.” – a tourist sign at the site.
During our Norway sightseeing vacation, we stopped in Lom, Norway to behold this stave church. I have very mixed feelings about stave churches. Indeed, they are beautiful and what interests me about them is the architecture, -or rather- the norse wood carvings. But…they remind me of a time where christianity was violently forced upon the vikings. I think that says more than enough about how I feel, and I’ll leave it at that. *Just so it’s said: believe what you will, be kind and respectful to others. We are all allowed to have faith in whatever we have faith in. Peace out!*
Dear followers, it has been a while – but you have been in my thoughts. I have been doing so many exciting things lately, both here in my beloved country and in the US (which some of you might know a little something about already;) This viking Gal have been constantly on the move the past few months, and my feet have barely touched my own home since I moved in. Gudvangen Viking Market was the highlight of this summers Viking adventures. The last time I visited Gudvangen was four years ago (!) and what they have accomplished over there blew me away. I love the atmosphere, and people were including and warm. In a bit of a rush here – but I have so many pictures – stay tuned for much more from this place in the coming days.
Five carved animal heads were found in the Oseberg grave. Four of them are displayed at the Viking Ship Museum for the public to behold. The fifth is in very poor condition, and the remains are therefore kept in the Museum’s depository. Because none of the animal heads are alike, researchers believe that the animal heads have been made by different woodcarvers. The heads are carved out of maple wood, and two of them are adorned with silver rivets. The making of the animal heads must have been quite the challenge. The woodcarver(s) had to find a naturally curved piece of wood from the lower part of a suitable tree trunk.
We do not know for certain what the animal heads have been used for. As with many of the mysteries of the Viking Age, one can only wonder. Four of the animal heads were found in the burial chamber, and one on the forward deck. They were all found with a rattle and a piece of rope. One of the ropes passed through the mouth of one of the animal heads, like reins. There was a shaft about half a meter long at the base of the neck of each of the heads. It is possible that the heads were carried using the shafts. They might also have been mounted on walls, or perhaps even on a throne (or anything, really). But most interessting of all is the theory that they had some sort of magical or religious significance. They might have played a significant part in offerings, and maybe the burial ritual of the Oseberg Queen herself.
Sources: Museum of Cultural History, UiO
Photos: Sól Geirsdóttir
In The Oseberg Queen’s grave, there were more than 12 horses, 3 ceremonial sledges and a cart. The placement of the sledge shafts indicate that there could have been a horse on either side. The cart (1st pic of this post) was probably only used for special occasions. The back of the cart is decorated with carvings of cats – often associated with our fertility goddess Frøya. The front end shows a man being attacked by serpents, possibly portraying the tale of Gunnar in the snake pit. The sleighs are made of different types of wood and were richly carved. The placement of the sledge shafts indicate that they were pulled by two horses. We believe that the sleighs were made for pageantry and therefore, appearances were important. These carvings were enhanced by black and red paint, and tinplated nails were also part of the decoration. Unfortunately, the colours were difficult to preserve and cannot be seen today.
The best viking bling is ancient museum bling! 😉 I am always in awe when beholding the gorgeous Oseberg finds. Yass!
Sources: Uio, Museum of Cultural History & The Viking Ship Museum
Photosss: Sól Geirsdóttir
Two yarn winders for beechwood. The balls are balls of yarn;)
Tent Frames. These objects were too fragile to be mounted in the correct position
Authentic viking shoes. Behoooold!
Mystical rune inscription that possibly reads “unwise person”
Chests, Boxes and Various Wooden Containers:
“The Oseberg grave was rich in chests, boxes and casks. The beautiful metal-bound buckets of yew-wood with gilded bronze fittings, were probably produced in England or Ireland. The Oseberg grave contained neither jewelry nor precious metals. Some of these items may have been deposited in this damaged chest and removed by the grave robbers who broke into the chamber.”
Text: The Viking Ship Museum, UiO Photos: Sól Geirsdóttir
Behold part one of more posts to come about the Viking Ship Museum at Bygdøy, Norway! (Yes, I have been here several times – for previous posts click here and/or here (:
”The oseberg ship was found in a large burial mound on the Oseberg farm, in Vestfold, and excavated in 1904. The ship was built sometime between 815-820 AD, but was later used as a grave ship for a woman of high rank who died in 834 AD. The woman had been placed in a wooden burial chamber on the aft deck of the ship. The burial mound was constructed of layers of turf which preserved both the ship, and its rich contents of wooden objects, leather and textiles. The burial mound was plundered by grave robbers in ancient times – probably the reason why no jewellery or gold or silver objects were found in the grave. The 22 meter longs hip was built of oak. The number of oar holes indicates that the ship was rowed by a crew of 30 men. The ship had no seats, and the oarsmen probably sa ton their own wooden ship’s chests. The oars could be drawn in when the square sail was raised. The steering rudder was placed on the right aft side of the ship- the starboard side. The Oseberg ship is less solidly constructed than the Gokstad ship – only the upper two rows of side planking extend above the water line. It was probably a royal pleasure craft used for short journeys in calm waters.”
Text: The Viking Ship Museum Photos: Sól Geirsdóttir