Art of the Anglo-Saxon and Vikings -
Part 3: Insular Art
-Dr Andrew Thompson
In Part 1 of this series we discussed the rudimentary decorative styles which were used by craftspeople throughout the Migration Period and "Viking Age" to decorate everyday objects, while, in Part 2, we discussed the origins and evolution of animal style art (glossed as Salin Style I and II) which dominates the sophisticated archaeological material of the Early Anglo-Saxon period in Britain, and of contemporaneous Germanic tribes across North and western Europe.
While this evolution of so-called "Germanic" art had been taking place, so-called "Celtic" art had continued to flourish and evolve, in a degree of isolation, in Ireland and the fringes of Britain. Cross-fertilisation of art between the "Germanic" world and the Hiberno/Celtic/Brythonic one appears to have been limited, following the Western Roman Collapse and on into the 7th century. However, as the elite of the emerging Anglo-Saxon kingdoms in Britain converted to Christianity in the 7th century, strongly under the influence of Irish missionaries, a new cultural bridge was formed between these two very different artistic cultures. The result, in the 8th century, would be some of the most spectacular art in European history...