Viking painting ideas

Viking painting ideas DEFAULT

The Viking (1) copy.jpg

Art quilts are made just for the love of quilt making. An art quilt can be any combination of quilt piecing, appliqué, fabric painting, collage, and more! They can be any size too – from the size of a postcard to enough to fill a wall! After making a few Firecracker Flower art quilts, I watched this Craftsy course about making pictorial art quilts for the second time and set out to make another one based one one of my favorite Russian paintings.

Guests from Overseas by Nicholas Roerich

My quilt (that I’m calling ‘The Viking’) was inspired by this painting by one of my Nicholas Roerich. I started out by making a sketch on a large piece of paper and I simplified it by only drawing the main parts… one ship, one Viking, a few birds, and fewer mountains and buildings.

The Viking (3) copy.jpg

Then I pieced it all together with Wendy Butler Burns’ glue basting technique. I had fun quilting it and adding little bits of embellishment.

The Viking (2) copy.jpg

And I must admit that my favorite part is this corner with the green mountains and three buildings. It’s hard to see, but I stitched three glass beads on them. 

Happy Sewing!

How to Sew a Closet Organizer with lots of pockets – Free Sewing Pattern

Sew an organizer covered with pockets that you can hang in your closet! This easy sewing project is great for organizing sewing and craft supplies, fashion accessories, bathroom necessities, gift wrappings, and more. There are pockets on both sides plus a big interior pocket so every bit of space is used. I’ll show you easy step by step instructions for sewing this organizer and putting it to use in your home. Get sew organized today.

How to Sew a Closet Organizer with lots of pockets - Part 2

How to Sew a Closet Organizer with lots of pockets – Part 2

Are you sewing a Closet Organizer with me? I hope so! This is Part 2 of our free sewing tutorial for an amazing organizer with a coat hanger inside so you can hang it anywhere.

If you are getting started, make sure you start at Part 1 of the free pattern.

Monthly Mini Quilt for January 2018 - Flora!

Monthly Mini Quilt for January 2018 – Flora!

I’m so excited to share with you the pattern for our first mini quilt of 2018… Flora! This beautiful little quilt was designed by the very talented Lauren of Molly & Mama…

Easy Peasy Lunchbag - Free Sewing Tutorial

Easy Peasy Lunchbag – Free Sewing Tutorial

At my daughter Chloe’s high school (can you believe my baby started high school???), the lunch lines are so long that she has been skipping lunch! She’s always starving by the time she gets home because she doesn’t want to carry a big lunch bag as well as her heavy backpack – poor girl!

How to Sew an Easy Patchwork Quilt using 2 1/2” Fabric Squares – Postage Stamp Quilt!

I am so in love with the beautiful look of simple patchwork quilts with lots of squares. This is the perfect way to use up fabric scraps like I did, or you can make a beautifully coordinated quilt with pre-cut 2 1/2’’ square fabric pieces that come in mini-charm packs.

I’m also in love with the process. If you feel like quilt making is your escape from the world and sitting down to sew for a few hours makes your troubles fade away… this is the quilt for you!

1 Yard Magic Apron {free sewing pattern}

1 Yard Magic Apron {free sewing pattern}

Sew an easy beautiful apron with this free sewing pattern that only uses one yard of fabric! Whether you are sewing for yourself or for a friend, an apron always comes in handy and makes a great gift. This blog post includes a link to a free template that I digitized for you.

Sharing is Caring!

Disclosure: some of my posts contain affiliate links. If you purchase something through one of those links I may receive a small commission, so thank you for supporting SewCanShe when you shop! All of the opinions are my own and I only suggest products that I actually use. 🙂

Hi folks,

The good news is - Vikings are easy to paint! In fact, most 'Dark Age' models are. Its down largely to the simple tunics of the age, which for the regular folk tended to be plain died wool. This makes it simple for us to get great results with a few basic colours and a little highlighting.

1.Assembly and Undercoating. Its probably best to go with a light colour for the undercoat as most of our colours today will be plain, flat, and light.

2. Research. There is plenty of good source material available on the internet for Dark Age clothing. Here is a good chart which shows the dyes of the period, what source they came from and the kind of shades of colour they produced.

3. Choosing Paints. Now we have the research done, its just a matter of selecting colours that are similar to the dyes. Dont worry about getting exact shades, use whatever you have to hand as long as they are close enough it will be OK. Here are the 8 I chose - 

4. Base Coats. Paint the main bodies first. Dont worry about painting over belts and pouches, or slipping onto the arms and legs. Just get the paint on the main tunics. We will tidy the rest up later. For now we just want block colours on the main tunics.

Once you the tunics done, then we can do the arms and legs. This requires a little concentration not to slip onto the main tunic, but dont worry if you accidentally do clip the tunic at this point, we have a trick to sort that later.

5. Painting the rest of the model. Once we have the tunics and arms/legs done, its time to get the skin, beard, belt, pouches, shoes and whatever else the model may have. Everything but armour - dont worry about that just yet.

Paint the flesh on the face, then the beard around that.

Take your time here. The belt is tricky, but dont worry if you clip the tunic (we still have a trick in hand still to play). The pouch and straps are easy as they are raised up from the model.

6. Ink wash. Optional, but easy! Use a brown ink on the wood and leather, and a flesh wash on the skin and beard. Ink is easy to use and gives a real quick and good looking result. Carefully brush the areas with ink, dont flood them. And again, dont worry if you slip up anywhere, we'll come to fixing mistakes in a bit.

With the beard and flesh - let the ink run into both areas. It gives a more natural look.

7. Highlighting. Remember the trick I mentioned to fix any mistakes? This is the part where we can do that.

Now we are going to mix the base colour, with a little dollop of white, to provide a paler shade. The trick to mixing is WATER.

Drop a little patch of water on the area where we are going to mix, then add the original base coat, and then stir in a little bit of white paint. Use only a little drop of white, and mix  until you can see a visibly lighter shade. Then paint this over the top of our tunic, leaving the original basecoat only in the darker/shaded areas.

You can repeat this highlighting as much as you like. The key to mixing really is WATER. Not too much, but each shade you want to apply should be both,

1. A little lighter with white paint, and 2. A little more water.

This really is the key to 'blending'. Paint the lighter coat over any raised areas, or where the fabric calls for it. Just be careful when adding water - too much and it becomes too watery and not very good to use. With practice you will get it though, so dont give up! Each lighter coat should be on a smaller area than the one before.

For example, if the base coat is the entire arm, the first highlight should be 80% of the arm, leaving 20% of the arm in shade. The next highlight may be just the elbow and the cuff. The highlight after that just the cuff. Each highlight a little lighter with white, and little more watery.

8. Armour (and shields). Paint any armour black. Helmets, swords, shield rim etc all black. Then use a 'dry brush' technique for the silver. If you dont know what dry-brushing is, then just paint the silver on very lightly, run the brush over the area instead of trying to paint over the black. You should get an equally good effect. Remember - dont paint 'over' the black, instead run the brush gently over the top of it.

For the shield colour and design, I took a little inspiration from a TV show. You can google 'viking shields' and you should find plenty of designs and inspiration for your own.

And there we go - told you it was easy!

Remember - block paint tunic, then arms and legs. Then pick out the details of belts and pouches. Skin then beard. Wash wood, leather and skin. Add white and water to your base coat to highlight tunics.

Thanks for reading and enjoy your painting!


  1. Nerf bars 2011 silverado
  2. 2 clock insert
  3. Funny jesus birthday meme

Painting Rollo’s Viking Seascape

When Erica first contacted me about Rollo, I was initially excited because he was a 12 year old pittie mix! And, anyone who has been following me for a while knows that I’m a big softie for 1) pitties and 2) older pets (and older pet owners!). So, naturally I was already giddy about another pittie painting. Then, she told me that not only was Rollo an elderly rescue (was adopted when he was 9!), but he was named by his rescue after the show Vikings!

I regularly refer to him as my grumpy old man. He loves me very much and is very protective of me, so as a result he will still bark at my parents when he sees them with his tail fully wagging. Same thing with my boyfriend. If he is ever with them when I'm not there, then he is perfectly content, but if I am there he sees it as his personal duty to protect me. He loves rolling around in the grass, which is funny because that's not where his name comes from at all. Sometimes we will be on walks and he just drops out of nowhere to roll around. He was named by the shelter and he was there for almost a year so he already responded to his name by then, but this is a description of the character he was named after and it honestly fits perfectly. "Rollo is a very strong, ferocious warrior and a bloodthirsty conqueror who never backs down from a fight that even in a wounded state, Rollo's power and skill as a warrior is fearsome. However, at times he can be seen as being a bit of a lonely character who just wants to be loved and admired."

Through the course of several weeks, Erica and I worked on concepts for Rollo’s painting. I did some research on the show Vikings and the character Rollo, who (in one shot) had the most stunning fur cloak that I just knew the Pittie Rollo had to have. I also did research to make sure his Viking ship was historically accurate. I sent Erica 3 concept sketches and she ended up choosing “Concept 3".

Concept 1: Rollo is in the foreground with full viking gear, including a leather collar, fur cloak, viking shield, ear piercings, and viking/human hair (omg sorry I just went crazy). In the background is a village being raided, lots of fire and big pillars of black smoke against a vibrant sunset.

Concept 2: Rollo's sillier "on his back" pose, making him appear to be dancing/howling against a dark night with his viking ship docked. Perhaps on his way to a local tavern to cause some mischief? (I put a question mark on the sail. Is there a special symbol you might want on the sails?)

Concept 3: Rollo in the foreground with his viking clothes, a little more toned down than concept 1. The ship in the background with a lightning / thunderstorm.

The concept evolved from there when I started sketching it out. I wanted it to be more dynamic with crackling lightning and a turmulterious ocean. I also decided to draw out a Viking Pup Crew! One of the other details I added were the runes on the sails. Erica mentioned they’d love for it to say MHHS, which is the Mohawk Hudson Humane Society, where Rollo was adopted from!


Underpaintings can be a bit tedious, but they’re a crucial step in both planning a painting and constructing the “skeleton” (or foundation) of the painting. There were a lot of details in Rollo’s painting, including his earing, fur, and the lightning that I wanted to make sure was captured in the painting process. This is also great for giving the client a good idea of how the painting will look and is the last stage where I can do last minute changes. For instance, Erica decided to remove the long hair/beard for Rollo.


Due to the lighting, ambiance, and details, Rollo’s painting took me a whopping 3 days just to paint (that doesn’t include planning, sketching, or underpainting times). Despite how much patience and neck ache a long painting like this takes, I’m so incredibly proud of how it turned out.


Rollo’s viking seascape was painted on 300 lb. hot press Arches paper with professional grade watercolors to ensure it is enjoyed for plenty of years to come. I’m always open to interesting and new settings for pet portraits, including fantasy and sci-fi (like a pair of Star Wars cats I did last year!) As someone who is a big fantasy nerd, omg this made my heart happy! If you’re interested in commissioning your fur baby in a fantasy or sci-fi concept, you can do so in my shop for 11”x14” or 16”x20”.

Thank you Erica for sharing Rollo’s amazing story and allowing me the opportunity to paint this handsome pupper!

WatercolorVikingsPitbullPittieFantasyWitcherWorld of WarcraftGame of ThronesPet PortraitHandmade Pet PortraitHand Painted

Viking Serpent Sketch - Tutorial / Time Lapse

Have you been watching the TV show Vikings on television lately and it’s making you feel in touch enough with your inner warrior to try and teach your kids about viking history and culture? Perhaps your kids just started learning about vikings in school or became really intrigued by the time period after they saw the movie How to train Your Dragon? Either way, we’re a little bit obsessed with viking themed crafts right now and we’re also pleasantly surprised by how many cool viking themed crafting tutorials are out there to help us indulge that interest!

Check out these 15 DIY projects that will make you and your kids really feel like viking warriors by the time you’re finished.

1. Cereal box viking helmet

Cereal box viking helmet

What better way to really enjoy your crafting process than to upcycle something while you’re at it? Kix Cereal happens to agree! They’ll show you how to turn regular cardboard pieces from an ordinary cereal box into a mock viking helmet that’s perfect for sailing a pretend longboat.

2. Juice carton viking ship

Juice carton viking ship

Are you fresh out of empty cereal boxes but you’re still love to get your kids crafting with readily available kitchen supplies? Then grab your nearest empty juice carton instead! We adore this easily made longboat by Happy Brown House because the juice carton does all the hard work by giving you the shape and you can simply help your kids embellish their boat however they please!

3. Water bottle viking boat

Water bottle viking boat

Do you like the idea of helping your kids make their own viking longboat but you’d prefer to help them make one that will actually float, rather than getting soggy and sinking like the one above would? Then try following in Mama’s Kram‘s foosteps and making he base of your boat out of empty plastic water bottles instead!

4. Authentic viking bread recipe

Authentic viking bread recipe

Not every viking related DIY project has to be and artsy craftsy one meant for little kids. Believe it or not, there are still many age old viking recipes kicking around that will let you play viking in the kitchen too, whether your kids are old enough to help you or not. Check out this authentic recipe for viking bread on Raising Lifelong Learners.

5. Viking brooches

Vikin brooches

Have you always loved the iron, copper, and bronze jewelry that you’ve seen in pictures of vikings but you’ve never seen anything similar in modern, mainstream stores? Try making your own instead! You don’t have to break the bank to make novelty viking jewelry; simple use some tinfoil, copper wiring, and rhinestones to make the rune-like markings, just like Angelic Scalliwags did here.

6. Viking runestone

Viking rhunestone

Speaking of viking runes, have you ever looked up the language and markings and investigated what your favourite quote or the names of your loved ones might look like? Well, Home School Days suggests using modeling clay to scratch the symbols onto the surface and create a runestone just like you might have found in viking villages thousands of years ago.

7. DIY viking Kubb set

Diy viking kubb set

Historical accounts of daily viking society have taught us about a game called Kubb. If you ask us, this will be one of the most interesting viking crafts of all to your kids because it’s an interactive one that they can actually play with after, and they’ll learn from doing so. Check out how Sustainable Living Projects made this authentic Kubb set out of three short wooden blocks and five sharpened sticks.

8. DIY aged viking map

Diy aged viking map

Maybe your kids are so intent on playing viking that they’re been begging you to help make them props for a while now, but you’re ready to go all out and really give them the full “viking experience”? Then they’re going to need a map for going on voyages! Check out how Angelic Scalliwags made this “authentic” viking map from modern graphing paper!

9. Easy viking lunch

Easy viking lunch

Have you and your kids been making viking crafts all day and now it’s time for lunch, but they’re just not ready for a break from all the themed excitement yet? Then make sure lunch follows suit! We love the way Happy Brown House shaped the top of the sandwich, gave it banana horns, and used raisins and pretzels for some detail in order to make an awesome little viking helmet meal.

10.Leather iron age shoes

Leather iron age shoes

Perhaps you’re actually the one with the viking intrigue, rather than your kids, and you’re looking to make yourself a DIY craft that you might actually use and feel rather proud of? Then we definitely suggest these gathered leather shoes that are actually an accurate representation of what women would have worn in the Iron Ages when vikings ruled. Get the pattern for creating your own pair of leather shoes from Earth and Living.

11. Cardboard viking shield

Cardboard viking shield

Did your kids love their cereal box helmets so much that they’re back and begging you for more easy viking gear that won’t take long to make? Then grab the next closest cereal box and get to work on this adorable little cardboard viking shield! Kix Cereal shows you how it’s made.

12. Painted paper vikings

Painted paper vikings

Sometimes you just can’t beat a little bit of classic paint and paper crafting time! Just because you’ve handed your kids standard painting supplies, however, doesn’t mean they can’t still incorporate their love of viking stories into their arts and crafting time. Check out these hilarious little painted vikings on Painted Paper Art.

13. Viking hat cake

Viking hat cake

Maybe your kids love vikings so much that they actually asked you to throw them a viking themed birthday party? Well, if you ask us, we think that sounds like a great idea! We’re also glad to report that Bombshell Bling has you covered when it comes to the party cake because they’ve already made a cake design that looks like a classic horned viking’s helmet!

14. Backyard viking play tent

Backyard viking play tent

Have you and your kids just finished reading about viking shelters and homesteads, talking at length about how they built their homes on the road as they went off to grand expeditions throughout the lands? Well, then we think they’ll pretty excited to read about how Adventure in a Box made this gorgeous viking tent in their backyard and then outlined the process so that you can make one too!

15. Clothespin dragon

Clothespin dragon

Okay, okay. There’s no real historical or scientific fact confirming that vikings actually had dragons that they battled or tamed and flew around on. The dragons were, however, a symbol of power and success in viking society, so we figured we’d be safe putting at least one viking themed craft on this list! This adorable little dragon is actually made from a clothespin and some construction paper, which we think is fantastic.(found on Kix Cereal )

Do you know someone who loves Viking era things as much as we do? Share this post with them for a little bit of crafting inspiration!


Ideas viking painting

Viking Painting

Painting is an art form that has spanned innumerable cultures, with artists using the medium to tell stories, explore and communicate ideas and express themselves. To bring antique and vintage paintings into your home is to celebrate and share in the long tradition of this discipline.

When we look at paintings, particularly those that originated in the past, we learn about history, other cultures and countries of the world. Like every other work of art, paintings — whether they are contemporary creations or works that were made during the 19th century — can often help us clearly see and understand the world around us in a meaningful and interesting way. Cave walls were the canvases for what were arguably the world’s first landscape paintings, which depict natural scenery through art. Portrait paintings and drawings, which, along with sculpture, were how someone’s appearance was recorded prior to the advent of photography, are at least as old as Ancient Egypt. In the Netherlands, landscapes were a major theme for painters as early as the 1500s. Later, artists in Greece, Rome and elsewhere created vast wall paintings to decorate stately homes, churches and tombs. Today, creating a wall of art is a wonderful way to enhance your space, showcase beautiful pieces and tie an interior design together.

No matter your preference, whether you favor Post-Impressionist paintings, animal paintings, Surrealism, Pop art or another movement or specific period, arranging art on a blank wall allows you to evoke emotions in a room while also showing off your tastes and interests. A symmetrical wall arrangement may comprise a grid of four to six pieces or, for an odd number of works, a horizontal row. Asymmetrical arrangements, which may be small clusters of art or large, salon-style gallery walls, have a more collected and eclectic feel. Download the 1stDibs app, which includes a handy “View on Wall” feature that allows you to see how a particular artwork will look on a particular wall, and read about how to arrange wall art. And if you’re searching for the perfect palette for your interior design project, what better place to turn than to the art world’s masters of color?

On 1stDibs, you’ll find an expansive collection of paintings and other fine art for your home or office. Browse abstract paintings, portrait paintings, paintings by popular artists and more today.

VIKING SYMBOLS meaning and pronunciation

I'm just gonna tell you right now, this is one photo-heavy blog post. Which is totally not my fault. I blame my amazingly talented 4th grade artists who just so happened to kick some serious Viking butt with this project. They absolutely loved the Viking unit that student teacher Rebecca introduced (before heading off to high school-land) and I really think their amazing work shows it. Call me a brag-a-saurus (been called worse, trust me) but I'm in love with these works of art.

If you've seen some of the our Viking projects this year (like the 1st grade Viking self-portraits or the 3rd grade Viking ships), then you know a coupla things about how the lessons were designed: 1. They're collage-heavy. Seriously, I think I have a teaching problem(s); 2. They incorporate several different techniques and media; 3. And just about all of the projects take approximately a million years to complete.

I know. I told you, I've got teaching problem(sssss).

And yet I keep coming back to projects like these. Le sigh.

What I really enjoyed about teaching this unit was all of the media the children were able to explore (watercolor, colored pencil, permanent pens) as well as the techniques (painting, sketching, shading, collage). So I thought I'd walk you through our big fat Viking Unit. So put on your horned helmet (horny helmet...?) and hang onto your long ship (dare you to say THAT ten times fast), cuz we're about to get our Viking on (er, what? Never mind. Just keep reading, please).

As you know, my classes are 30 minutes long. So on the first day, using a folded 12" X 18" sheet of paper, the students had to decide how they would like their sky to appear. We brainstormed ideas of what could be seen in a day or night time sky. Using oil pastels, students drew stars, clouds, a sun or a moon. They were given both yellow and white oil pastels. From there, they could begin painting but they had to use analogous colors only. Students were encouraged to paint with horizontal brush strokes (and by "encouraged" I mean and the stink eye if scrub-painting commenced). Several students were unable to finish in that short amount of time and were given the opportunity to continue work the following class.

On the third day, students were given a tri-folded piece of 12" X 18" piece of paper. Rebecca introduced them to three different watercolor techniques. For splatter painting, the students were given the choice to paint wet-on-wet or wet-on-dry. For the wet-on-wet technique, students had a small sponge which they could swipe their paper with water before splattering. This gave the splatters a soft look. For wet-on-dry, they simply began splattering which gave more defined dots. For the mid-section, students were to paint wet-on-wet and add a sprinkle of salt when finished. For the last section, students were to again paint wet-on-wet and when finished, cover with a piece of cling wrap. This was left on the paper over night and when removed, had the cool effect you see on the bottom.

The next class, the collaging began. The students cut each of the three sections down the fold. Then they were instructed to tear each section horizontally creating a wavy line. From there, they painted a line of glue (we keep our glue in cups [think butter dish with a lid] and apply with an old paint brush because I HATE glue bottles. But I'll save that tirade for a separate post) on the straight edge of the paper and added it to our sky to create a horizon. Another strip was added directly below that one.

This process was continued until the bottom of the collage was covered in a lovely sea.

Oh! A tip: Once the kids have used the oil pastels and painted over their drawings, sometimes beads of paint will form and leave unsightly dots. If this bothers the kids, have them go back over the (now dry) paintings with oil pastels again. That will cover up the dried paint dots.

We chatted about blending oil pastels to create a three dimensional look for the sun or moon. This genius got it.

For the long ship, the students were given the option to trace a boat template. This ONLY gave them the general shape of the boat, not the head or tail shape (calm down, template-haters. Breathe). From there, the kids were given these directions:

  1. Draw a sea serpent/dragon head and tail in pencil. The kids were shown about a trillion examples (some printed from images found online, some from books).
  2. Add texture somewhere to your sea serpent.
  3. Add shields and add designs to them that represent your Viking clan. The kids traced bottle caps for their circles.
  4. Add curved lines to your ship to show the texture of wood and the 3-D quality of your ship.
  5. Trace in thin Sharpie.

All that mess took a couple of days. They got really into their drawings. Reading the book mentioned in this post as they worked really sparked some creativity. After their drawings were complete, they then had to:

  1. Add color to the sea serpent and the shields using either Sharpies or colored pencils. Shading was demonstrated.
  2. Use watercolor paint on the boat.
  3. Cut out VERY carefully. Which involved me saying a lot of this:

Do NOT cut off the head. Cut in...sloooooow...moootiooooon.

No, I cannot cut it out for you. 

I'm sorry your hand is cramping. Maybe all those spikes weren't the best idea. Keep cutting.

Do you think Vikings whined this much? Me neither.  

Some of them added Vikings to their ships. Oh, the hilarity.

And just when they thought I wasn't mean and cruel enough, I threw creating a 3-D sail into the mix. Go back to that 3rd grade Viking ship post for details on how to make the sail. All this typing is making my hands cramp. Sorry. I'm one of those whiny Vikings, in case you didn't know.

Shading is tricky for these guys...but they CAN do it. We talked and talked and talked about it and...guess what? They got it! Some of them had to make a couple of sails before they were successful, but in the end, we had shaded sails. Victory! Some kids decided to add a clan design to their sail. They were to lay out their pieces before gluing down, as you see above. This helped them settle on a good composition.

Are you checking out this detailed cutting work? And this was by one of my hand-crampers. I knew she could do it.

And this one was by my friend who said he couldn't shade. When he finished that sail, I had him to hold it up so the class could give him a round of applause. And then I put him in charge of encouraging other slacker-sail makers. A job he did very well.

So, one million years later, we've got Viking ships! And I really don't know who is the most proud, the kids or me...although I'm guessing it will probably be Rebecca. 

Okay, the end. You can take off your horny hat now. Thanks for reading.


You will also be interested:

How to decorate like a Viking

Green is the colour of hope, white symbolises surrender or innocence, and black binds the living to the dead.

Colour has always carried meaning for people, including the Vikings, for whom it symbolised power and wealth.

But what colours did the Vikings use?

Archaeologists and chemists have now studied colour use in the Viking Age based on the chemical analyses of pigments from a number of objects and a review of existing information on the topic.

The new report includes a range of shades and hues that could have been used by the Vikings. (Photo: National Museum of Denmark / Roberto Fortuna)

These colours are now available to all in the form of a colour palette: A Viking paint chart.

Explore the colours in the interactive image below to learn how they were made, where they came from, and what they symbolised.

Twelve colours thought to be common in the Viking Age, according to a new report into Viking pigments. Click or hover your mouse on each colour to learn more. (Photo: National Museum of Denmark / Roberto Fortuna)

Reconstruction of the largest Viking building

The Viking Age was probably far more colourful than you might think, says conservator Line Bregnhøi from the National Museum of Denmark, and co-author on the new report.

“When we’ve previously excavated finds from the Viking Age among others, we weren’t so interested in colours. Partly because we didn’t have the techniques to study pigments, but also because we assumed that the colours appeared more or less as they were found,” says Bregnhøi.

Bregnhøi and her colleague Lars Holten have used the advanced techniques now available to create the colour palette used in the reconstruction of the largest Viking building discovered in Denmark.

The Royal Hall, as the building is called, was reconstructed at the Centre for Historical-Archaeological Research and Communication in Denmark (as also known as Sagnlandet Lejre). It uses the same type of paint used by upper class Vikings.

Read More: What colour did the Vikings paint their houses?

Offers a glimpse into how Vikings used colour

However, the archaeologists behind the report warn of some caveats: There are still few finds from the Viking Age, and there remains little to no pigment on those that do exist. Pigments could have been removed during excavations or by decay after hundreds of years of burial.

It is not certain that the researchers have got the colours exactly right, but the analyses are the closest we can come to recreating Viking colours with existing technology.

Archaeologist Henriette Syrach Lyngstrøm from the Saxo Institute at the University of Copenhagen, describes the report as one of the most essential studies we have on the Viking’s use of colour. Lyngstrøm was not involved in the new report.

“It’s an important study because it presents the chemical analyses that form the basis for the very subjective ideas that archaeologists have on Viking Age colour,” she says.

“On the rare occasion that we excavate a piece of painted wood, the colour looks nothing like the original. Here, chemists and conservators analyse the pigments and help us to further our interpretations,” says Lyngstrøm.

Read More: Fashionable Vikings loved colours, fur, and silk

What we do know about Viking colours

Even though the evidence of how Vikings used colour is sparse, archaeologists are fairly sure they have nailed down some key points:

  • They know that Viking’s used bold colours to be seen.
  • They also know that Vikings used colour pigments from numerous sources, such as ochre and charcoal, which they blended together along with a binding agent so that the colour adhered to the material.
  • Common binding agents were milk products, egg, or linseed oil.

The Royal Hall at Sagnlandet Lejre in Denmark was painted with linseed oil paint, since it is the most durable binding agent used by the Vikings. Moreover, the hall was not entirely covered in paint, as the Vikings are unlikely to have used expensive paint over the entire building.

Read More: How are we affected by colours?

Colour symbolism

It is not insignificant which colours the Vikings used on their houses. For example, some colours were rarer than others and were costly having been imported over long distances, says archaeologist Lars Holten, director of Sagnlandet Lejre and co-author on the new report.

“We know that the symbolism of colour is enormously important in all cultures. Red, white, and black are some of the most common and have similar symbolism among numerous cultures,” says Holten.

One of the more expensive colours is the red ‘cinnabar’ (number 5 on the interactive chart above), and it was likely used by chieftains or princes as a status symbol to demonstrate power over their surroundings, says Holten.

Red symbolises strength or danger, probably because blood can be associated with both the bringing of life and injury.

Anthropological studies show that white is often associated with life, connected with milk or semen, as opposed to black, which is associated with death, says Holten.

Read more in the Danish version of this article at


Translated by: Catherine Jex

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