Colorful Viking Age

The shipwrecks found in Norway clearly show that the Vikings had the sense of decorative textiles, beautiful objects and jewelry. The detailed decoration of the ships, with what must have been the best of woodcarving at the time, demonstrates that the Viking era was far more colorful than a museum visit gives an impression of.

Expensive and sought after

What many do not know is that the Vikings were very fond of strong and vibrant colors. Special colors like red and blue that were flashy and could be difficult and expensive to produce were sought after, and the elite could use such colors to mark their status.

Oseberg shpi in color

The Oseberg ship has probably been decorated with colors - but we do not know which ones. Especially in recent years the theme of the vikings' use of colors has been the focus on the lives and work of the Vikings. Cultural heritage in Vestfold County Municipality engaged Robert Fox (expert on color use and colorants in the Middle Ages) to show how the ship could have been decorated.

A warm day in June, we happen to meet Eivind Luthen at Vikingodden in Tønsberg, here on the site between Oseberg Kulturhus and the canal where you can immerse yourself in Viking history, and since 2010 you could see the construction of the copies of the Osebergskip and Klåstadskipet.

Eivind Luthen, initiator of the New Osebergskip Foundation, promises a wooden plate in guild colors and with typical Norse character figures. Evind asks; - Do you know what this is? No, we have no idea we answer where we are joking with a refusal.

- No no! This is a tingel! The tingel is the extension of the stern into the boat. It defines the boat at each end, where the boat is pointing towards the peaks, Luthen illuminates.

The New Oseberg Ship Foundation engages the treskjærer Geir Dalene to make a replica of the so-called tingel found in the Oseberg ship.

As shown by this example, cut by Geir Dalene, and painted by Robert Fox, the Osberg ship has been quite spectacular. In addition to leaf gold and sheet silver, Robert has used colors that you know were in use at the time. The tingel will so far be exhibited in the kiosk at Vikingodden.

See examples of the tingel, below on this page.


Stiftelsen Nytt Osebergskip, Det Norske Akademis Ordbok, Eivind Luthen, Wikipedia, Vestfold Fylkeskommune

Eivind Luthen with the tingel.

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