Horned Figures in Bronze Age Rock Art in Norway

Silhouette of a rock carving of a horned figure from Solberg in Østfold, and interpretations of the silhouette as a warrior with a horned helmet, a mix of a woman and cow (like Hathor/Bat from Ancient Egypt), and as a humanoid hare.

There are several horned humanoid figures in the Bronze Age rock carvings found in Østfold, Norway and Bohuslän, Sweden. These figures are often interpreted as humans with horned helmets. Another distinguishing feature of the humanoid figures from this area and time period are elongated legs with accentuated calf muscles, and sometimes they also have elongated, snout-like, faces. Though the figures are two legged, the anatomical features are not quite human. These anomalies are quite consistent, so it’s probably not a mistake done when trying to represent the human figure. It could be a stylistic choice, or perhaps some of the figures are combinations of both human and animal features. The latter is known to be very probably the case with rock art from other cultures, such as the San people of Southern Africa.

The Norwegian rock carvings are usually silhouette figures without interior details, which can make them challenging to interpret. I am working on a larger project about the rock art of Norway, and will be doing more drawings with different interpretations of figures from rock art.