The woodcarvings

It is the carvings that make the Oseberg Ship so special, and often referred to as “the most beautiful Viking Ship in the world”. The carvers on the ship and also other objects like the wagon, bed, headposts, sleds etc. have been referred to as representing the “Oseberg style”. The quality of the carvings is proof that this school was of a long and old tradition, rather than something that occurred spontaneously.

From the waterline up, the carving on the stems and brand is a frieze of quadruped animal figures, one over the other, similar, with varying details. The dragon´s head is surely a snake with a spiral neck. The original tail was not found, thus the reconstruction is construed from images from the Gotland picture stones along with other sources.

Mistakes were copied

Based on differences in technique, it is believed that the Oseberg carvings were made by three or four carvers. This was also the case when the replica Saga Oseberg was being built: Master carver Jay Haavik, along with local carvers Geir Dalene, Finn

Lurås and Boye Langklepp. The original carvings were copied down to the smallest detail – including the few mistakes made by the original carvers.

The woodcarvings are amongst the most remarkable aspects of the Oseberg find. Nowhere else has anything like it been found. When the replica Saga Oseberg was being built, it took four carvers one year to copy the carvings on the ship alone. (Photo: Einar Chr. Erlingsen)