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The Oseberg Tapestry

--- reconstruction of tapestry
fragments from the grave where
the Oseberg Viking Queen
was buried with her ship in 834 A.D.

Click a picture below
to enlarge

100 years ago, excavations of the Oseberg Viking ship grave was carried out. The finds, including a surprisingly well kept Viking ship, made headlines all over the world. The Oseberg Queen was buried in her gracefully decorated ship in 834 A.D.

Among the artefacts found in the Oseberg viking ship grave were fragments of woven textiles. Even though the fragments, on display at the Viking Ship Museum in Oslo, are in poor condition after nearly 1200 years in the ground, they represent some of the few surviving from early viking age.

A reproduced tapestry, approximately 45 x 95 cm, is designed in cooperation with the Viking Ship Museum’s archaeologists and shows selected elements from the originals. It shows a procession of people and horses, riding and walking men and women. The tapestry is complemented by a description (in English and Norwegian) by the Viking Ship Museum and a picture of a piece of the original fragments.

The reconstruction of the Oseberg Tapestry

The Oseberg tapestry is the result of a cooperation with the Viking Ship Museum which ensures a perception of the origial's impressive art and craftmanship. The Oseberg tapestry represents the entrance to the rich Viking art and introduces us to the art world of the early Viking times, quite different from the late Viking period represented by the Bayeux tapestry from about 1100 AD.

The Oseberg textiles are produced in cotton and are available as:

  • Tapestry, 93 x 43 cm

  • Placemat, washable, 46 x 35 cm

  • Cushion cover, washable, 46 x 35 cm

The placemats and cushion covers come in two different designs which each are part of the tapestry: The left half with the red horse, and the right half with the blue horse. They are produced in France and are approved for sale in the Viking Ship Museum.

More about the Oseberg Vikingship
and the textiles

The Oseberg Queen’s ship is extraordinarily gracefully decorated, there can have been few ships so lavishly carved. When the Queen was buried the year 834 AD (early Viking Age), she brought with her in the grave extraordinary artifacts:a cart, four sledges, several horses, tent, food and assorted farming and kitchen tools. She was well prepared for the long journey into her life after death. The Oseberg Qeen's grave is the most richly furnished known from the Viking Age even when the grave has been robbed. Probably, the robbers have only been interested in valuables, not in wood, leather and textiles.

Among the artefacts found were also fragments of woven textiles with various motifs picturing among others, a procession, a battle scene, men and women, and various symbols. The surviving fragments are in poor condition, after all, it is surprising that anything at all survived nearly 1200 years in the ground.

Very few pictorial scenes from the Viking Age have survived, the Oseberg tapestry is an extraordinary exception and indicate the cultural treasure the Oseberg find is. The original fragments, which are on display at the Viking Ship Museum in Oslo, are of astonishing craftsmanship. In fact, the quality is on a level which we – in our technological era – cannot readily copy. The threads are spun so fine and the weaver so capable that craftsmen today are not likely to match the quality. Both craftsmanship and art is outstanding and makes this tapestry unique. Archaeologists have recreated and combined the fragments and thus give us a perception of how the original may have looked like.

The reproduced tapestry shows a procession of people and horses, riding and walking men and women. The horses are over dimensioned compared to the people walking and thus gives an impression of perspective where the people are placed in the background.


Cushion cover/ place mat

Fragment of the original

Museum of Cultural History University of Oslo