The Oseberg Viking Ship – and her Copy

In 1903 a farmer close to the Norwegian city of Tønsberg – a large city in the Viking age – stumbled over part of a Viking ship from around 834. The ship was used in a burial and was almost in one piece when it was found. Two women were buried there and speculations have run wild as to whom these two women were. There is no doubt that they – or at least one of them –  were rich since they`ve eaten plenty of meat all their lives. Poorer people ate more fish.

Woman from the Middle East?

There is a bit of debate about one of the women and whether she was old and rich as well or if she was younger and possibly a slave. I think the latest research has concluded that both women were older and rich. An interesting side-story is how one test showed that this woman was probably from the Middle East but since they haven`t been able to find this result in newer tests, they don`t find that theory entirely credible.

The ship was excavated very carefully and one can now watch it in the Viking ship museum in Oslo. You can read more about it on Wikipedia: Oseberg Ship on Wikipedia

Building the copy

A group of people have worked long and hard with building a copy of this ship.

They`ve tried it before a couple of years ago but made a huge mistake and that ship sank. So it was with baited breath that they launched a new one this summer. You can watch a small video of the launch here. The large white boat next to the Viking ship is the royal boat and the older gentleman is the Norwegian king.

It was hard work because they wanted to do everything the Viking way. A lot of the people working on the Viking ship copy even made Viking clothes for themselves and their family.

I saw the copy – yay!

Last week I was lucky enough to be going on a business trip to the city of Tønsberg and I even stayed at the hotel next to the Oseberg ship copy. I skipped a few speeches because a Viking ship copy is more important, right? These are my pictures of the ship.

When I was there a group of kindergarten kids came down to the ship, apparently to go aboard and probably to go for a short ride. I secretly wished I was five years old and could join them 🙂

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12 responses to “The Oseberg Viking Ship – and her Copy

  • fffbone

    I’m very jealous of you. Great timing for a business trip.
    It’s very big. What get’s me is how low the sides are. Waves don’t go over the sides? How about in rough seas. I wonder if any has fallen over board.
    WOW, The craftsmanship that goes into it is truly remarkable. Nice pictures. Could you get closer to it?

    • thyra10

      Actually they built the sides a bit higher than the real Oseberg ship because a couple of years ago they made another one and it sank 😦 . They then discovered that the Oseberg ship – the original one, that is – probably hadn`t been assembled correctly back when they moved it from the place it was found and to the museum and that it probably was higher. So the copy they made now was the way they thought it was supposed to be.
      But I`m sure plenty of Vikings fell over board back in the days. And ships were lost. I read somewhere that they assumed one out of ten ships were lost on the fairly common trip to Iceland. And more than half were lost going to Greenland and/or Vinland (New Foundland). Being a Viking was no dance on roses, apparently.
      I did go closer but I guess I was so in ave that it never occurred to me to take pictures 🙂

  • EFM

    Thyra at the helm!!! Move aside small children LOL. Seriously, kids these days get the coolest school trips! And the adults get the best work trips;)

    • thyra10

      Hehe, oh yeah. I was so envious of those little kids and almost considered a second career as a kindergarten teacher 🙂
      But I can`t complain – this is the second business trip this year that has included a visit to a Viking ship copy.

  • Alison Griffiths

    I’m jealous too! I read about this, I’m researching a fic about the Vikings in Constantinople and I find this so fascinating. I may be picking your brains 🙂 the craftsmanship is truly amazing, I would have love to be involved in something like this. The real history, right there.

    (pst, when are we having some Sookie and her shield 🙂 you know we love her)

    • thyra10

      Oh, that story is one of the most interesting ones. Miklagard, the Vikings called Constantinople. Sigurd Jorsalfar went there and I`ve always considered him a Viking but now that I double check, he apparently wasn`t – he was born just after the Viking age (as we call it) ended. Ah well, this is not black and white – it wasn`t as if a curtain fell on the Viking age and they never referred to themselves as Vikings anyway. Here is some English information about him: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sigurd_the_Crusader
      But Vikings had been in Miklagard for a long time and were guards at the palace. You can also find Viking Runes on some statues there, if I don`t remember it wrong.
      Pick my brains anytime. I hope you`ll find something there 🙂
      I`ve been extremely busy at work but now things are a bit easier and I hope to be posting soon. I`ve already written a couple of chapters but wanted to finish the story before I posted anything.

  • fffbone

    Me too, Needing some Shieldmaiden.

  • Wendi

    After reading this, I thought this Facebook group might be of interest to you: http://www.facebook.com/groups/277020215675452

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