In the Iron Age, which dates in Scandinavia from about 600 B.C. to a.d. 400, the decorative art of the Bronze Age disappears and is replaced by only the most modest attempts at ornament.
The magnificent silver cauldron found in a bog at Gundestrup, near Alborg in Jutland (National Museum, Copenhagen), with half-length figures of deities on the outside and scenes of sacrifice on the inside, is thought to be a cult vessel of Celtic origin dating from about the beginning ofthe Christian era.
The second main period of Germanic art in Scandinavia, the early historical period of the first Christian centuries, saw a great flowering of artistic achievement, with a development from the simple filigree ornament of the first part of the period through a phase of decoration using inlaid coloured stones to the organic vigour of the animal style of ornament. From the 6th c. figural representations become more frequent. Four stages of development can be distinguished:
The filigree style (from the beginning of the Christian era to about a.d. 350): ornaments, particularly fibulas, decorated with gold or silver wire by the techniques of flushing or granulation.
The coloured style, using chip-carved ornament (a.d. 350-550). The Goths adopted decorative techniques of Iranian origin inlays of precious stones (frequently garnets) and cloisonne enamel work. Chip-carving is a form of decoration in which small chips of triangular profile, meeting at an angle, are cut in the surface of the object. In Scandinavia the chips are usually cut in the body of the metal with a burin. Originally, no doubt, taken over from wood-carving, the technique is still used in folk art.
Abstract animal ornament and interlace patterns (a.d. 550-800). The earliest form, Animal Style I, is characterised by animal figures so fantastically articulated that they sometimes disintegrate altogether. The heads, often consisting only of semicircular eye apertures, are juxtaposed to form mosaic-like patterns. A later form of the style, Animal Style II, incorporating interlace ornament of
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