Urnes Style: A Unique Expression of Norse Art and Viking Age Ornamentation

The Urnes style is a distinctive and intricate form of art and ornamentation that originated in Scandinavia during the Viking Age. Named after the Stave Church of Urnes in Norway, where it was first identified, the Urnes style represents a fusion of Viking, Celtic, and Romanesque artistic influences.

The Urnes style is characterized by its intricate and intertwined patterns, depicting stylized animals, vines, and geometric motifs. It features elongated and sinuous forms, with animals often depicted in an abstract and elongated manner, their bodies intertwined with one another and with intricate interlacing patterns.

The animals commonly depicted in the Urnes style include serpents, birds, lions, and deer, among others. These creatures are often portrayed with symbolic significance, representing various aspects of Viking mythology, folklore, and religious beliefs.

The Urnes style is known for its elegance and sophistication, with a focus on curvilinear and flowing lines. The interlacing patterns create a sense of movement and rhythm, while the use of negative space adds a level of intricacy and delicacy to the designs.

The Urnes style can be found in various forms of artistic expression, including woodcarvings, metalwork, stone carvings, and manuscript illuminations. It is most commonly associated with the decoration of Viking Age stave churches, where it adorns the portals, roof ridges, and other architectural elements.

The significance of the Urnes style extends beyond its aesthetic beauty. It is seen as a reflection of the cultural and artistic exchange between Viking Age Scandinavia and other European regions. Its intricate designs and motifs showcase the skill and craftsmanship of Viking artists and demonstrate the interconnectedness of different artistic traditions.

Today, the Urnes style remains influential and continues to inspire contemporary artists and designers. Its unique blend of animal motifs, interlacing patterns, and flowing lines has become an iconic representation of Viking Age art and Norse heritage. The beauty and complexity of the Urnes style serve as a reminder of the rich artistic traditions of the past and their enduring impact on Scandinavian culture and identity.
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