The Vikings are famous for their violent raids on Anglo-Saxon monasteries, incredible shipbuilding skills and general brutality. They are less famous, perhaps, for their artistic talents. Yet the precious fragments of art that survive from the Viking Age portray a far more mysterious side to Viking culture. From the so-called ‘gripping beast’ motif of the Oseberg wood carvings to the abstract animal ornamentation that adorns Viking jewellery, Viking art is defined by beautiful and intricate artistic styles that are distinctly Scandinavian, yet also show the Vikings’ interaction with other cultures, culminating in their conversion from paganism to Christianity. To coincide with the first major exhibition on Vikings at the British Museum for over 30 years, Andrew Graham-Dixon invites viewers to explore and admire the splendours of Viking art

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