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Viking Age Sculpture

Hello again intrepid reader,

This morning as I have been sorting through older files on my hard drive in a fit of post-submission tidying I came across the folder of material I collected for an archaeological graphics class during my Master’s year. I had an interesting time working on this piece. To set the scene I had full choice on what I wanted to portray- so I chose hogback sculptural monuments. I’ve been interested in them a long time but since I grew up in California I had never had any opportunity to see one in person. With some research and a little negotiation with English Heritage and the site owners I found a poorly documented piece in North Yorkshire I could use. It was hidden in later medieval chapel constructed by the Conyer Family [many of whom were still under their brass funerary plaques in the floor] along with a wide variety of sculptural pieces that the 17th and 18th century inhabitants of the site had deemed to be out of fashion. This chapel was well off the beaten path which helped to contribute to the lack of reference in publication. All of the hogbacks within are found within Cramp’s Corpus of Anglo-Saxon Sculpture.
Hogbacks are largely dated to the late 10th to the 11th century occurring in northern England and portions of Scotland including Papa Westray, Orkney. In England this was on time controlled by the northern Norse kings of Jorvik [modern York]. By the 12th century hogbacks have evolved into Romanesque grave covers in Scotland with a few indications of their previous pagan aspects. Very very few actually remain in their original settings, particularly those which had other associated elements. The pictorial hogback found at Conyer Chapel certainly has been moved and at one time had been built into the foundation walls of later additions to the small chapel. In order to accomplish this the carvings on the top of the stone emulating a longhouse roof were removed, as were portions of the gripping beasts located on the ends. The hogback I was working on is #33 on the sketch map. Its actually 1.7m long and although I had permission to move it if I needed I’m not actually certain that the four people present could have shifted that block of sandstone safely.
This stone illustrates a portion of a scene associated with the god Tyr.





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