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Viking art, also known commonly as Norse art, is a term widely accepted for the art of Scandinavia and Viking settlements further afield—particularly in the British Isles and Iceland—during the Viking Age of the 8th-11th centuries CE.Viking art has many design elements in common with Celtic, Germanic, the later Romanesque and Eastern European art, sharing many influences with each of these traditions.
The alternative name for the Viking people, Norse or Norsemen ('North men'), clearly reflects their northern homelands.
Viking raiders attacked wealthy targets on the north-western coasts of Europe from the late 8th until the mid-11th century CE.
Pre-Christian traders and sea raiders, the Vikings first enter recorded history with their attack on the Christian monastic community on Lindisfarne Island in 793.
The Vikings initially employed their longships to invade and attack European coasts, harbours and river settlements on a seasonal basis.
Subsequently, Viking activities diversified to include trading voyages to the east, west and south of their Scandinavian homelands, with repeated and regular voyages following river systems east into Russia and the Black and Caspian Sea regions, and west to the coastlines of the British Isles, Iceland and Greenland.
The artistic record therefore, as it has survived to the present day, remains significantly incomplete.
Ongoing archaeological excavation and opportunistic finds, of course, may improve this situation in the future, as indeed they have in the recent past.Wood was undoubtedly the primary material of choice for Viking artists, being relatively easy to carve, inexpensive and abundant in northern Europe.The importance of wood as an artistic medium is underscored by chance survivals of wood artistry at the very beginning and end of the Viking period, namely, the Oseberg ship-burial carvings of the early 9th century and the carved decoration of the Urnes Stave Church from the late 11th century.Evidence exists for Vikings reaching Newfoundland well before the later voyages of Christopher Columbus discovered the "New World".Trading and merchant activities were accompanied by settlement and colonisation in many of these territories.Although preliminary formulations were made in the late 19th century, the history of Viking art first achieved maturity in the early 20th century with the detailed publication of the ornate wood-carvings discovered in 1904 as part of the Oserberg ship-burial by the Norwegian archaeologist Haakon Shetelig.