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As summarised by Graham-Campbell: "These remarkable survivals allow us to form at least an impression of what we are missing from original corpus of Viking art, although wooden fragments and small-scale carvings in other materials (such as antler, amber and walrus ivory) provide further hints.

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Men wore rings on their fingers, arms and necks, and held their cloaks closed with penannular brooches, often with extravagantly long pins.

Their weapons were often richly decorated on areas such as sword hilts.

The Vikings mostly used silver or bronze jewellery, the latter sometimes gilded, but a small number of large and lavish pieces or sets in solid gold have been found, probably belonging to royalty or major figures.

Decorated metalwork of an everyday nature is frequently recovered from Viking period graves, on account of the widespread practice of making burials accompanied by grave goods.

Subsequently, and likely influenced by the spread of Christianity, the use of carved stone for permanent memorials became more prevalent.

Beyond the discontinuous artifactual records of wood and stone, the reconstructed history of Viking art to date relies most on the study of decoration of ornamental metalwork from a great variety of sources.

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 12th century.

Several types of archaeological context have succeeded in preserving metal objects for present study, while the durability of precious metals in particular has preserved much artistic expression and endeavour.

Jewellery was worn by both men and women, though of different types.

Recently, given the increasing popularity and legality of metal-detecting, an increasing frequency of single, chance finds of metal objects and ornaments (most probably representing accidental losses) is creating a fast expanding corpus of new material for study.


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