Following on from my previous post on Viking Doodles, another meeting provided yet another opportunity to try out different stick figures inspired by my imagination and various Viking-period artefacts and Norse mythological characters.
First, I attempted to give a hilltop view over a fictional Viking-period cemetery in Scandinavia. This gave me a chance to muse about the ephemeral traces of things we often don’t find or think about including fence lines, vegetation, tracks and gates, as well as a range of markers and monuments.
I’ve decided to include far older mounds and have some of these divided off from more recent graves, perhaps because they are ‘respected’ but also feared. I wanted to include multiple roads approaching, and different groups of mourners assembling at the burial ground in procession, with animals as a mode of transportation but also as participants/victims in the funerary rituals. I also include a stock enclosure: some of these animals will join the dead on the funeral pyres, others might be slaughtered for consumption at the funeral feast.
A hall is nearby and the focus of the feasting (I realise I cropped this off on the left).
Different crowds hint at the social differentiation among those attending; some slaves, some family members, some from neighbouring farms, others from farther afield.
At the approaches to the burial ground, I put up flag-poles: do they commemorate the social groups whose remains are honoured? Or are they like prayer flags?
Within the cemetery, there is the funeral pyre with a canopy: we hardly ever represent pyres with coverings, but this would make them look more like dwellings and in practical terms it would cover the pyre from rain water: there are plenty of ethnographic precedents for such arrangements.
In terms of monuments, I put in a real mixture: mounds and stone settings of different shapes, some with wooden posts and others with standing stones. Maybe some are carved and this are rune-stones?
Second, I created another procession of Viking-period characters. A bit like the Oseberg Tapestry, I tried to give a flavour of a procession. Cattle and a horse-drawn cart are pictured above. Riders in ceremonial headgear come next. Then there are ‘valkyries’/aristocratic females proffering horns, but the front one is bored and has decided to drink from it herself. Then there is a more informal and festive mood with characters dancing with weapons and preparing a meal. Children brandish weapons as do adults. A kid rides sheep followed by a pig, unquestionably a representation of archaic cultic significance! A boat is being built. Below, are the infirm and old, geese and ducks, with eagles flying above: perhaps this scene relates to dying and death?
At the bottom are the most demonstrably mythological characters. There’s Odin on Sleipnir, Thor (without Mjolnir) and Sif being driven by Tanngrisnir and Tanngnjostr, and Volundr in his smithy and a god fighting a giant.
Again, horns of all kinds are deliberately included and juxtaposed.