December 29th 2014 -
A Scandinavian Viking type spearhead with silver covered socket in Ringerike style
This week I like to show you a Viking Age spear head of Scandinavian type. These distinct type of spear head is very attractive looking because of its silver covering and decoration of the socket. I will also tell something about the specific art style, the Ringerike style, wich with this silver is decorated in.
Why specific Scandinavian ?
More than 60 Late Viking-Age spearheads found in Finland have silver ornamented sockets, the majority of which are ‘decorated with runic animals’ (in the Swedish ‘Runestone’ style). At least seven different animal forms of Urnes-style type are distinguished, with parallels on Gotland.
Surveys a group of Viking-Age silver-ornamented spearheads (late ninth/ early tenth-century to eleventh century) found in Estonia, Latvia and Finland. Concludes that, although the majority were imported from Scandinavia, there may have been some attempts at local manufacture, following Scandinavian models, towards the end of the Viking Age.
Another example of a find is centred around a rich blacksmith’s grave at By in Hedmark, is of late Viking Age origin, mainly 11th century (Martens 969; 2002). Here the sockets of the M-type spearheads are decorated in Ringerike style, which
makes it very likely that they were made in the Nordic countries (Fuglesang 1980:42).
The socket decoration on the spear head is of Ringerike style of pattern type B.
The Ringerike Style and the Urnes Style are the two art-styles that flourished consecutively during the 11th century in Scandinavia - until the end of the Viking Age, with the introduction of the European Romanesque - may be considered to encapsulate much of the essence of the Viking Age itself. Main characteristics in Ringerike Style decoration is the foliate motif, the use of intertwining tendrils, combined with alternating lobs and tendrils. A common feature within the decoration is the form of a spiral in the hip of a so called 'Great Beast' (see also the Ringerike style sword strap devider in The Artefacts section).
This distinct use of a spiral curl can be seen on the lower part of the silver decoration on the socket, as well as on top of it.
The Ringerike Style was fashionable in Scandinavia during the period between about 990 and 1050, by wich time it was already in transition to become the Urnes Style.
Image of characteristic spiral hip decoration within the Ringerike Style ornamentation.
Background information and reference:
James Graham-Campbell, Viking Art, 2013, p. 116 - 133
I would also like to express my thanks to him, giving me some very fine references on this subject (the underlined references are clickable as links to the reference text).
Irmelin Martens, Indigenous and imported Viking Age weapons in Norway – a problem with European implications, Journal of Nordic Archaeological Science 14, pp. 125–137 (2004)
See p. 133 Fig. 7 Socket decorations on spearheads: Blindheim’s pattern types Aa, Ab, and B (Ringerike Style)
Mägi-Lôugas, Marika. “On the Relations between the Countries around the Baltic as indicated by the Background of Viking Age Spearhead Ornament.” Fornvännen 88 (1993): 211–221.
See p. 216 Fig. 2 Some ornaments in the Ringerike style on the sockets of Estonian spearheads
Indrek Jets: Scandinavian late Viking Age art styles as a part of the visual display of warriors in 11th century Estonia, Estonian Journal of Archaeology, 2012, 16, 2, p. 118 -139
See image p. 123 Fig. 1. Ringerike style patterns on spearhead sockets.
Image beneath: (I will address the reference later, as I just found this image on someone's Pinterest page)
Spears and javelins from the Viking Age - type 6: addressed here as 'a typical pattern'.
Also see: Vikings; Life and legend (2013) The British Museum (catalogue accompanying the exhibition held in several national musea in Europe during 2013 and 2014), p. 106, spearhead with silver-inlaid socket, 11th century from Vilusenharju, Tampere, Upper Satakunta, Finland.
Similar style silver decorated spear heads images can also be seen clicking at this link.