Vingen Figure Interpretation 2

The petroglyph figure at Vingen. (Source: Virtuelle Vingen / Universitetet i Bergen)

The Vingen rock carvings (Vingenfeltet) are located in Bremanger in Vestland County. It is one of the largest rock carving sites in Norway and the carvings are dated to approximately 4000-3000 BCE during the Nordic Stone Age. In this blog post, I will explore different interpretations of a figure that is typically interpreted as representing a human skeleton.

The Figure as a Human Skeleton

The figure interpreted as a human skeleton.

My first rendering of the figure is simply as a human skeleton, and it does not look much like a human skeleton at all. The neck and torso are too long, while the limbs are too short. The ribcage and pelvis area are drawn in the same way, but they actually look quite different. The figure also has what looks like a tail, which is not a part of the human skeleton. It could also represent a penis, which also is not a part of the skeleton.

Then there is the horizontally elongated head shape separated into two sections that looks nothing like a human skull. This shape reminds me a lot about the petroglyph figures found all over Norway that are often interpreted as footprints. The idea is that the line in the middle represents a string that was tied around the middle of the foot in the shoes common at the time.

Example of symbols typically interpreted as footprints to the left in the shadow area. Image from the petroglyphs at Hafslund.

The footprint figures are, by some, thought to represents footprints of the ancestors and thus having some connection to the dead. A skeleton is also obviously connected to have something to do with the dead, and perhaps the figure was giving a head that looks like these footprints to strengthen this connection with the figure to the dead. In some older mythologies everything is upside down in the underworld, and that could be the reason why the footprint symbol is at the head of the figure instead of a footprint at the end of each leg.

I do believe that the figure most likely represents a human skeleton. But it also a very strange version of a human skeleton. Some things could be explained by the carver trying to carve the figure from the memory of a human skeleton and not from reference. But still, the head shape and tail is so far removed from human anatomy that there is probably some reason behind it.

The Figure as a Monkey

The figure interpreted as a monkey.

Norway is very far away from the habitats of monkeys, and it is also very unlikely that monkeys were exported to Norway during the Stone Age. So this is a very unlikely interpretation.

The figure does look like the skeleton of some sort of primate, and the tail-shape made me think of a monkey. The rendering of the figure as a monkey sort of fits the shape. But the torso and neck still looks far to long. This elongation of the torso, and some times the neck, is quite common in petroglyph figures.

The Figure as an alien

The figure interpreted as a two-headed alien.

My third interpretation of the figure is as an alien with two upper bodies, and heads. This is, of course, and even more unlikely interpretation. At least of the figure should represent an Extraterrestrial.

I mentioned in the interpretation as a human skeleton that the ribcage section and pelvis section is drawn in the same way. So here I interpreted it as two ribcages. Then, instead of a tail, it is another neck with a small head coming out at the bottom. Once I saw the petroglyph as a figure with two upper bodies connected in the middle it was hard to unsee. But I have never seen other examples combined-at-the-torso petroglyphs, and it is unlikely that that was the intention of the carver here.