The Seal of Dignity of Archbishop Olav of Nidaros (1350–1370). Reflections on its Iconography and Cultural Context
Medieval seals provide interesting historical and art historical source material as they reflect a number of elements in medieval society, of which iconography is one. The imagery in the seal of dignity of Olav I, Archbishop of Nidaros (1350–1370), is an artwork of high quality. This article provides a detailed examination of the cultural context of the seal by bringing together earlier knowledge and some new insights. It discusses stylistic relations to comparable seals from different areas outside the Nidaros archdiocese. These are the seals of the Cardinal of San Clemente, the Bishop of Durham and Queen Blanche of Norway and Sweden. The great seal of Olav was innovative at the time in Norway. It was hagiographic with a suppliant bishop’s figure. It contained rich micro-architectural elements, and heraldry now formed part of the imagery of the seal. The stylistic connections presented in the article are a reminder of the significance of the long-distance travels of the medieval clergy and the resulting network of cultural interactions (including correspondence), especially during this period of increasing papal influence.