The Beauty of Urnes Style: A Deep Dive into Viking Artistry

Urnes style - Unearthed Treasures: Discovering Ancient Viking Artifacts

Welcome to our exploration of the remarkable artistry of Urnes Style, a unique form of Viking art that has stood the test of time. From its origins in Norway to its enduring influence on modern design, we will take a comprehensive look at the beauty and cultural significance of this stunning art form.

Key Takeaways:

  • Urnes Style is a remarkable form of Viking artistry.
  • This unique art form originated in Norway and is characterized by intricate designs and intertwining animal motifs.
  • Urnes Style has had a lasting impact on Scandinavian art and continues to inspire contemporary artists and designers around the world.
  • Efforts are being made to preserve and restore this cultural heritage for future generations.
  • Enthusiasts can learn the art of Urnes Style through workshops and courses, and collect authentic artifacts from the Viking art market.

Origins of Urnes Style

If you’ve ever admired the intricate details and breathtaking designs of Viking art, you’re likely familiar with Urnes Style. This unique artistic expression is deeply rooted in Viking culture and has its origins in Norwegian woodcarving techniques.

The intricate knotwork and intertwining animals that define Urnes Style can be traced back to the Viking era, particularly the late 11th century. The style is named after the Urnes Stave Church in Norway, which is adorned with elaborate carvings that showcase the beauty and complexity of this art form.

While Urnes Style is undoubtedly a form of Viking art, its influence extends beyond Viking culture. Its intricate designs and attention to detail have made it a notable influence on Scandinavian art and modern design.

Origins of Urnes Style: Norwegian Woodcarving Techniques

Norwegian woodcarving techniques played a significant role in the development of Urnes Style. These techniques were first employed by Viking craftsmen to create the intricate wooden carvings that adorned their ships, temples, and homes.

As Christianity spread through Scandinavia, the Vikings began incorporating Christian imagery into their woodcarving, resulting in the development of a unique style that blended traditional Viking motifs with Christian symbolism. This style became known as Urnes Style and is characterized by its intricate knotwork and intertwining animal motifs.

The Urnes Stave Church, which dates back to the 12th century, is one of the most notable examples of Urnes Style in architecture. The church features elaborately carved portals that showcase the beauty and complexity of this art form.

Today, Urnes Style remains a beloved and iconic form of Viking artistry. Its enduring appeal speaks to the significance of preserving and honoring artistic heritage through the ages.

Characteristics of Urnes Style

One of the defining features of Urnes Style is the intricate designs that adorn its pieces. These designs often incorporate a variety of elements, including interlacing patterns, spirals, and stylized animal forms.

The prominent use of intertwining animals is another hallmark of Urnes Style. These creatures are often depicted with elongated bodies and interlocking limbs, creating a sense of movement and fluidity. Some of the most common animals depicted include serpents, wolves, dragons, and birds, each with their own symbolic significance.

These intricate designs and intertwined animal forms are not merely decorative but also carry great symbolic significance. They represent the interconnectedness of all living things and the cyclical nature of life, death, and rebirth. In Viking culture, these motifs conveyed ideas about power, wealth, and the natural world.

Masterpieces of Urnes Style

Urnes Style is renowned for its elaborate carvings and intricate designs, seen in the masterpieces of Viking art it has produced. Among the most notable examples are the Stave Church portals, which feature an array of twisting, interwoven animals and intricate patterns.

The portals of the Urnes Stave Church, located in Norway, are considered to be the finest examples of this style. The carvings on these portals depict scenes from Norse mythology, including the epic battle between the gods and giants. The attention to detail in these carvings is staggering, with individual strands of hair and feathers meticulously carved to create a lifelike effect.

Other Viking artifacts that showcase the beauty of Urnes Style include jewelry, weapons, and everyday household items. These objects frequently feature the same motifs and designs found in the Stave Church portals, displaying the wide range of applications that this style had in Viking culture.

Overall, the masterpieces of Urnes Style are a testament to the skill and creativity of Viking artisans. Their intricate carvings and exquisite beauty continue to captivate and inspire art enthusiasts around the world.

Stave Church Portals

Location Description
Urnes Stave Church, Norway Considered the finest examples of Urnes Style, featuring intricate scenes from Norse mythology and breathtaking attention to detail.
Borgund Stave Church, Norway Known for its ornate carvings of dragons and other mythical creatures, the Borgund portal is another prime example of Urnes Style.
Heddal Stave Church, Norway The Heddal portal features a depiction of Christ on the cross, surrounded by intricate scrollwork and stylized animals.

These stunning works of art offer a glimpse into the exceptional craftsmanship of Viking artisans, and the enduring legacy of Urnes Style in the world of art and design.

Influence of Urnes Style

The impact of Urnes Style extends beyond its historical and cultural significance. Today, it continues to inspire Scandinavian art and modern design.

From interior decor to fashion, Urnes Style has influenced a variety of creative fields. Its intricate designs and intertwining animals have served as inspiration for contemporary artists seeking to imbue their work with a sense of ancient mysticism and symbolism.

Scandinavian art, in particular, has been heavily influenced by Urnes Style. Artists in the region continue to draw upon this iconic aesthetic in their work, paying homage to the traditions and techniques of Viking artisans.

Modern design has also been shaped by Urnes Style. The aesthetic’s focus on natural forms and intricate craftsmanship has made it a popular choice for jewelry designers seeking to create timeless pieces with a sense of history and symbolism. Tattoo artists have also been drawn to the style, incorporating its intricate designs into body art.

Influence of Urnes Style in Interior Design

Urnes Style’s emphasis on natural forms and intricate patterns has made it a popular choice for interior designers seeking to incorporate a sense of history and mysticism into their work. From furniture to textiles, the influence of Urnes Style can be seen in a variety of design elements.

The intricate designs and intertwining animals frequently featured in Urnes Style have served as inspiration for textile designers, who incorporate these motifs into rugs, upholstery, and other decorative fabrics. Furniture designers have also drawn upon the aesthetic, with woodcarvings featuring prominently in many Urnes Style-inspired pieces.

Whether in the form of an intricately-carved wooden chair or a subtly-patterned throw pillow, the influence of Urnes Style adds a touch of timeless elegance to any interior space.

Preservation and Restoration of Urnes Style

If you’re passionate about Urnes Style and its cultural heritage, you’ll be pleased to know that efforts are underway to preserve and restore this ancient art form.

Conservation efforts involve a range of techniques, including cleaning, stabilizing, and repairing artifacts. Additionally, there are initiatives aimed at promoting awareness of Urnes Style and safeguarding it from threats such as theft and vandalism.

One of the greatest challenges facing conservationists is ensuring that ancient artifacts are not lost to time. To help address this issue, some institutions are creating digital archives of Urnes Style artifacts, turning them into 3D models that can be accessed and studied online.

By supporting the preservation and restoration of Urnes Style, you’re helping to ensure that this artistic heritage is passed down to future generations.

Whether through financial contributions, volunteer work, or spreading awareness, there are many ways to get involved in preservation efforts. By doing so, you can help preserve an extraordinary piece of cultural history for years to come.

Urnes Style in Contemporary Culture

While Urnes Style originated in Viking times, its influence can be seen in various forms of contemporary culture today. From jewelry design to tattoo art, artists and enthusiasts continue to be inspired by the intricate designs and intertwining animals that define this iconic style.

In the world of jewelry design, Urnes Style has become a popular choice for those seeking unique and meaningful pieces. Often incorporating elements of silver or gold, these pieces showcase the intricate designs and symbolism that are hallmarks of Urnes Style.

Tattoo artists have also embraced Urnes Style, creating intricate and highly detailed designs that reflect the rich cultural heritage of Viking artistry. Whether as standalone pieces or incorporated into larger works, Urnes Style tattoos have become a sought-after choice for those looking to honor their ancestry or simply appreciate the timeless beauty of this art form.

As a lover of contemporary culture, exploring the influence of Urnes Style is a journey of discovery. By immersing yourself in this rich and diverse art form, you’ll gain a deeper appreciation for the enduring beauty and cultural significance of Urnes Style in all its forms.

Exploring Urnes Style: Travel Destinations

If you’re captivated by the exquisite beauty of Urnes Style, why not embark on a journey to witness its splendor firsthand? From its origins in Viking art to its enduring influence on contemporary design, Urnes Style has left its mark on cultural heritage around the world. Here are some travel destinations where you can explore this iconic art form:

UNESCO World Heritage Sites

UNESCO has recognized the cultural significance of Urnes Style and designated several sites as World Heritage Sites for their exceptional examples of this art form. The Urnes Stave Church in Norway is one such site, with intricately carved portals and ornamentation that showcase the mastery of Viking woodcarving techniques.

Another UNESCO World Heritage Site that showcases the beauty of Urnes Style is the Runic Stones and Church in Jelling, Denmark. Here you can see the famous Jelling Stones, which depict intertwined animals and other symbols of Viking culture.


Norway is the birthplace of Urnes Style, and there are several locations in the country where you can witness this art form in person. In addition to the Urnes Stave Church, you can also visit the Borgund Stave Church, a well-preserved example of medieval Norwegian architecture featuring intricately carved ornamentation.

For a modern take on Urnes Style, head to the city of Ålesund, where you can find contemporary design inspired by this timeless aesthetic.


Sweden also boasts several locations where you can experience the beauty of Urnes Style. The Västergötland region is home to several rune stones featuring intricate Urnes Style designs, while the island of Gotland has many examples of Viking art and architecture, including the famous Tängelgårda stone.

In Stockholm, you can also visit the Swedish History Museum, which houses an extensive collection of Viking artifacts, including Urnes Style jewelry and woodcarvings.

Whether you’re a history buff, an art enthusiast, or simply seeking inspiration, exploring the physical manifestations of Urnes Style can be a truly enriching experience. So why not plan a trip to one of these travel destinations and witness the timeless beauty of this iconic art form for yourself?

Learning Urnes Style: Workshops and Courses

If you’re interested in learning the art of Urnes Style, there are several woodcarving workshops and Viking art classes available that can help you develop your skills. These courses provide a unique opportunity to explore the techniques utilized by Viking artisans and gain insight into the cultural context that inspired this remarkable art form.

One popular option for learning Urnes Style is to attend a woodcarving workshop. These workshops typically offer hands-on instruction in traditional woodcarving techniques, including the intricate designs and motifs that define Urnes Style. You’ll have the opportunity to work with skilled instructors and learn from their experience, as well as connect with other enthusiasts who share your passion for this ancient art form.

Another option for learning Urnes Style is to enroll in a Viking art class. These classes cover a wide range of topics related to Viking art, including the history and significance of Urnes Style. You’ll explore the cultural context that gave rise to this art form, as well as gain valuable insight into the techniques and symbolism that define it.

Whether you choose to attend a woodcarving workshop or enroll in a Viking art class, the experience of learning Urnes Style is sure to be a rewarding one. You’ll gain a deep appreciation for the intricacies of this remarkable art form, as well as connect with a community of artists and enthusiasts who share your passion for preserving and honoring the cultural heritage of Viking artistry.

Collecting Urnes Style Artifacts: A Guide for Enthusiasts

If you’re a fan of Viking artistry, you may be interested in collecting Urnes Style artifacts. However, the Viking art market can be filled with replicas and fakes, making authenticity a significant concern. Here’s a guide to help you navigate the market and ensure that your acquisitions are genuine.

Do Your Research

Before making a purchase, it’s crucial to do your research. Familiarize yourself with the characteristics of Urnes Style and the materials, techniques, and motifs commonly used. This knowledge will help you identify genuine pieces and distinguish them from replicas and forgeries. Consult with experts, read articles, and visit museums to expand your knowledge and understanding of Urnes Style.

Buy from Reputable Sources

Buying from reputable sources is essential to ensure that what you’re buying is genuine. Look for established dealers, auction houses, and galleries with a reputation for selling authentic Viking artifacts. Don’t buy from street vendors or online stores with little or no information about their sources. Remember, if a deal seems too good to be true, it probably is.

Verify Authenticity

Once you’ve found a reputable seller, verify the authenticity of the piece. Ask for provenance, a detailed history of the artifact and its ownership. Provenance is crucial because it provides evidence of the artifact’s age, origin, and ownership, which can help establish its authenticity. Look for signs of wear and tear, such as scratches, chips, and discoloration, which can be useful clues to the piece’s age. Consult with experts and use scientific analysis, such as carbon dating and X-rays, to verify the piece’s authenticity.

Protect Your Investment

Lastly, protect your investment by insuring, storing, and displaying it correctly. Keep the artifact away from moisture, heat, and direct sunlight. Use archival-quality materials, such as acid-free paper and UV-resistant glass, to store and display it. Insure the piece for its full value, and keep a detailed record of its provenance and value in case you decide to sell it later.

Collecting Urnes Style artifacts can be a rewarding and enriching experience. By doing your research, buying from reputable sources, verifying authenticity, and protecting your investment, you can ensure that you’re acquiring genuine pieces while honoring the rich cultural heritage of Viking artistry.

Appreciating the Timeless Beauty of Urnes Style

As you reflect on the exquisite craftsmanship and intricate designs of Urnes Style, it’s hard not to be struck by its enduring appeal. But the significance of this art form goes beyond its beautiful aesthetics; it’s a testament to the rich artistic heritage and cultural history of the Vikings.

Urnes Style is a product of a bygone era, a time when skilled artisans used their hands and tools to create masterpieces with intricate details and rich symbolism. It’s a reminder of the immense creativity and ingenuity of Viking culture and their ability to infuse artistic expression into everyday items such as ships, weapons, and household objects.

By appreciating Urnes Style, we honor the legacy and cultural significance of Viking artistry. We recognize the value of preserving this artistic heritage for future generations, ensuring that the beauty and history of this art form continue to inspire and captivate people around the world.

“Urnes Style is not just about aesthetics. It’s a testament to the rich artistic heritage and cultural history of the Vikings.”

Whether you’re an art enthusiast, a history buff, or someone who simply appreciates the beauty of fine craftsmanship, Urnes Style offers something truly special. It’s a window into a world that existed long before us, a glimpse into the lives and creative works of our ancestors.

So take a moment to contemplate the intricate designs and intertwining animals of Urnes Style. Consider the symbolism behind these motifs and their significance in Viking culture. And most importantly, appreciate the timeless beauty of this remarkable art form and the cultural heritage it represents.

Embracing the Legacy of Urnes Style

As you reflect on the beauty and cultural significance of Urnes Style, consider how you can embrace its legacy. Whether you’re an artist, art enthusiast, or simply appreciate the value of preserving artistic heritage, there are many ways to honor and continue the legacy of Urnes Style.

One way to honor Urnes Style is to support conservation and preservation efforts. Consider donating to organizations dedicated to preserving cultural heritage or attending events that showcase the beauty and significance of Viking artistry.

You can also incorporate Urnes Style into your own artistic pursuits. Experiment with the intricate designs and motifs that define this style, and explore how they can be adapted to different media and purposes. From jewelry design to tattoo art, Urnes Style can be a rich source of inspiration for contemporary artists.

Another way to embrace the legacy of Urnes Style is through education. Attend workshops and courses on woodcarving and Viking artistry to learn the techniques and traditions that underpin this unique style. Share your knowledge with others and inspire them to appreciate and celebrate the beauty of Urnes Style.

Finally, consider collecting Urnes Style artifacts, whether as a hobby or as a way to support the Viking art market. Be sure to research the authenticity and value of the pieces you acquire, and seek out reputable dealers and sources to ensure that your collection is a true representation of this timeless style.

As you embrace the legacy of Urnes Style, remember the cultural significance and artistic heritage that it represents. By preserving and celebrating this unique form of artistry, you are contributing to a legacy that spans centuries and enriches our world to this day.


What is Urnes Style?

Urnes Style is a remarkable form of Viking artistry characterized by intricate designs and the prominent use of intertwining animals.

What are the origins of Urnes Style?

Urnes Style originated in Norway, influenced by Norwegian woodcarving techniques and the cultural context of Viking art.

What are the distinguishing characteristics of Urnes Style?

The distinguishing characteristics of Urnes Style include intricate designs and the symbolic use of intertwining animals, representing the interconnectedness of nature and the spiritual world.

What are some notable masterpieces of Urnes Style?

Notable masterpieces of Urnes Style include elaborately-carved Stave Church portals and various Viking artifacts showcasing the exceptional craftsmanship of the era.

How has Urnes Style influenced contemporary culture?

Urnes Style has had a lasting influence on Scandinavian art and modern design, inspiring artists and designers worldwide with its timeless aesthetic.

How is Urnes Style being preserved and restored?

Dedicated efforts are being made to preserve and restore Urnes Style, employing conservation techniques and initiatives to safeguard this cultural heritage for future generations.

How can I experience Urnes Style in contemporary culture?

Urnes Style is prevalent in various aspects of contemporary culture, including jewelry design and tattoo art, offering opportunities for enthusiasts to appreciate and engage with this ancient art form.

Where can I witness Urnes Style firsthand?

Travel destinations, including UNESCO World Heritage Sites, offer opportunities to explore physical manifestations of Urnes Style and witness its beauty in person.

How can I learn the art of Urnes Style?

If you’re interested in learning Urnes Style, there are workshops and courses available where you can develop your woodcarving skills and delve into the techniques used by Viking artisans.

What should I consider when collecting Urnes Style artifacts?

When collecting Urnes Style artifacts, it’s important to be aware of the art market and ensure the authenticity and value of your acquisitions.

What is the cultural significance of Urnes Style?

Urnes Style plays a significant role in preserving and honoring artistic heritage, reflecting the cultural and historical importance of Viking artistry.

How can I embrace the legacy of Urnes Style?

Embrace the legacy of Urnes Style by continuing to celebrate Viking artistry and exploring the rich tapestry of history and handiwork that it represents.