Saturday, 17 May 2014

Hedeby - a carved dragon's head

Hedeby hand carved Viking dragon head by bod

Hedeby - hand carved oak wall plaque / free standing sculpture, based on a dragon's head pin dated AD950-1000 that was found at Hedeby, modern Germany (also known as Haithabu.) Hedeby was the largest Nordic city during the Viking Age and used to be the oldest city in Denmark until the site became part of Germany.
~ 285 x 165 x 25mm

Hedeby carved oak Viking dragon head

I have been wanting to carve a Viking dragon's head for a while, and whilst visiting the 'Vikings Life and Legend' exhibition at the British Museum, I saw the Hedeby pin displayed and was instantly inspired!

Hedeby was the largest Nordic city during the Viking Age and used to be the oldest city in Denmark until the site became part of Germany. It is towards the end of the Jutland peninsula, and here, only a narrow land-crossing seperates the Schlei, an inlet of the Baltic, in the east from the then tidal river to the west, giving access to the North Sea. Hedeby, also known in German as Haithabu, developed as an important trading centre.

The site was discovered in 1900, and archaelogical work has continued there, intermittently, until the present day. The most important finds resulting from the excavations are now on display in the adjoining Haithabu Museum.

Hedeby carved oak Viking dragon head

In the book that accompanies the British Museum exhibition, the picture of the pin has this text next to it: "the dragon heads that are most associated in the imagination with the prows of Viking longships could also decorate the simplest domestic items, like this pin."

I decided early on in carving 'Hedeby' that I wanted it to have an 'authentic' feel as a Viking Dragon Head and therefore opted for a 'tooled' and darkened finish.

I hope you like it, I was quite pleased with the result!

Thanks for reading!


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~ Inspired by a love of history & nature ~

Friday, 9 May 2014

The Celtic Tree of Life - 'Crann Bethadh.'

Tree of Life Wall Plaques

As you may know, I just love trees, and this was my first, but certainly won’t be my last, piece of work based on a tree!

This particular design, although created by myself, is based on a quite universal theme of the Tree of Life, World Tree or Sacred Tree.

This is a common motif in many world mythologies and alludes both to the interconnected nature of all life as well as a metaphor for a connection between all forms of creation – the link between heaven and hell or underworld - “As above, so below.”

The Celts venerated trees (Tree of Life – ‘crann bethadh’ pronounced: krawn ba-huh) and their Druids had ritual centres within oak groves.

When clearing a piece of land to settle in, many Celtic Iron Age tribes used to leave a tree in the centre. This tree then became the centre of the community, with gatherings and celebrations held beneath it.

I grew up in a traditional village that had a village green with an enormous tree in the centre. Just like our ancestors, we held many events around and under this tree. The tree dominated the village and always felt like a protective and symbolic presence.

In Norse (Viking) mythology there is Yggdrasil, which, again, in their cosmology is a type of World Tree, Tree of Life and Sacred Tree, connecting many worlds.

The Ash Yggdrasil by Friedrich Wilhelm Heine (1845-1921) Wikimedia Commons
The Ash Yggdrasil by Friedrich Wilhelm Heine (1845-1921) Wikimedia Commons

The accepted meaning of Yggdrasil is ‘Odin’s Horse’ – the Poetic Edda (a collection of minstrel poems) describe how Odin sacrificed himself by hanging from this tree, in doing this he discovered the Runes.

“I know that I hung on that windswept tree,
Swung there for nine long nights,
Wounded by my own blade
Bloodied for Odin,
Myself an offering to myself:
Bound to the tree
That no man knows
Whither the roots of it run.
…down to the deepest depths I peered
Until I spied the Runes.
With a roaring cry I seized them up,
Then dizzy and fainting I fell.

Well-being I won
And wisdom too.”       

             The Poetic Edda.

This always reminds me of the quest for spiritual knowledge undertaken by Siddhartha Gautama when he meditated under the Bodhi Tree, achieved enlightenment and became the Buddha.

Trees have always been associated with the spiritual quest, and there are many books on tree lore, symbolism, healing powers and meaning.

I shall certainly be creating more pieces based on, or featuring trees, they are one of my greatest inspirations.

I hope you like ‘Tree.’

Thanks for reading!


Justbod Team

Article updated: June 2014 - 

Tree is now also available in our very popular 'Dark and Light' range. bod has hand burnt the design onto birch, which is then inset into a handcrafted oak frame 16 cm².  
Tree of Life wall plaque
Tree of Life wall plaque in our Dark & Light Range

Further update 29 June 2016:

Our latest 'Tree:' cold cast bronze or aluminium, inset into a 16 cm² handcrafted solid oak plaque:

Tree Of Life Wall Plaque by Justbod
Visit our 'Symbols & Motifs' Page

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 ~ inspired by a love of nature and history ~

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Thursday, 8 May 2014


Mjölnir hand carved by bod

Hand carved ‘Thor’s Hammer’ keyring/pendant in boxwood by bod.

Another recent commission it measures 6 x 4.5 x 0.8 cm

Mjölnir is the Hammer of Thor, the Norse god of thunder, and is depicted in Norse mythology as a most fearsome weapon. The name is usually interpreted as ‘crusher’ or ‘that which smashes,’ from a similarity with English, Slavic and Latin words meaning ‘to mill.’ It has also been interpreted as ‘lightening’ from similar Russian and Welsh words.

Mjölnir hand carved by bod
Norse mythology relates how the hammer was made by the dwarven brothers Sindri and Brokkr and the short handle was a mistake during manufacture.

Several original examples have been found around Europe, and this version, is loosely based on one found in 1874, in Mandemark, Møn, Denmark.
Source Wikipedia

Some of the more recently dated excavated examples show the gradual conversion of the Norse people to Christianity as they contain both Christian and Norse symbology.

I absolutely loved making this piece although I seemed to use every tool in the workshop at some point (I am exaggerating but I certainly made a mess!)

It is the very first time that I have worked with boxwood and it took me a few ‘prototypes’ and some broken blades, to get the measure of it.

Mjölnir hand carved by bod
I am very pleased with the results and really enjoyed the process. I have some other work to get on with now, but am really hoping to return to the boxwood to create a new range, probably beginning with some pendants!

In the meantime, if you like it and can’t wait…….please get in touch with us and we’ll see what we can do….

(update 09/05/15 - still haven't produced a range of pendants due to a profusion of orders and creative ideas.....still hoping to....)

Thanks for reading!


Justbod Team

You can see Mjolnir on our new 'Previously by bod' page on the website.

See Collections for all of bod’s currently available works. 

Or visit the Justbod Website for Celtic, Viking & Mythical wood carvings, sculptures and artwork by the Yorkshire artist bod. 
Justbod Celtic Viking and Mythical sculptures and carvings

Original article on bod's blog on the Justbod website.