The Ringerike Style

The Ringerike style (c. 1000-1075 CE) is one of the quintessential styles of the Viking Age. Its abundant and elegant knotwork patterns are demonstrably appealing to a modern audience.

But how do you recreate the style in accordance with its original historical principles? For a contemporary audience, the concepts of the intricate interlacing patterns can seem incomprehensible and daunting to replicate.

This course unlocks the secrets of the enigmatic craft of knotwork creation and makes it approachable for you to create your own designs.

The Building Blocks

The course is organised into two main parts. The first part will introduce you to all the necessary building blocks you need to create your Ringerike-style design.

The style employs a very particular selection of simple visual and graphic elements and concepts like, for example, acanthus leaves and pretzel knots to compose the intricate knotwork compositions.

This handful of basic compositional elements is combined, repeated and reconfigured over and over throughout a composition. If you know these elements and principles, you can create virtually any Ringerike-style composition imaginable.

The Design Process

The second part will walk you through the process of creating your Ringerike-style design step-by-step. You’ll combine all the building blocks into a fully-fledged ‘great beast’ composition.

The iconic great beast motif comprises a lion or wolf-like creature engaging in combat with a serpent or vine wrapped around its body. The motif is known primarily from the Greater Jelling stone, and it is a stable design throughout the late Viking Age, featured on numerous runestones throughout Scandinavia and the surrounding Norse-influenced regions.

You’ll learn how to construct an intricate knotwork-based composition. From analysing the references to laying out the composition's main lines and shaping the ornament's details.

Tools and Setup

The principles and concepts described in the course apply to virtually all visual media and crafts. You can, for example, replicate the process digitally or traditionally with pen and paper.

A basic understanding of illustration is preferable but not necessary. You’ll definitely be off to an easier start if you know how to work a pen, as I won’t go into the basics of illustration.

Before you begin, I’d recommend you check out The Anatomy of Viking Art. It is a great companion guide and a quick introduction to the core concepts and periods of Viking Age art, including the Ringerike style. 

I hope you’ll enjoy your time getting into the Ringerike style in the company of this course and that the textbook will serve you as an excellent compendium for revisiting and referencing long after you’ve created your first design.

Let’s get started!

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