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Wednesday, April 23, 2008

ROSKILDE - Viking Ship Museum

This is the first in what is hopefully a series of field reports from Denmark. (Sorry if some of the charaters used seem odd - this is being typed from a Danish version keyboard.)

The first thing about the Viking Ship Museum - its ALL about Ships. Just ships. The complex is basically in four parts. Only the main 'Viking Ship Hall' appears to require admission. I had a comp anyway, so I'm not even sure if there was any cost. In the main building are four sections: the boat hall - an activity room - gift shop - temporary exhibits.

The boat hall has the ships. These are mounted on the steel frames that you have certainly seen photos of. I found the fames a bit of a pain. These do outline the hulls as they would have been when complete. They also cover over some of the detials on the joints, as the metal supports the timbers at both top and bottom. this is less a problem with Skuldeleve 1 (the ocean knorr). This is the hull that Paul Comptons 'Viking Saga' is based on.
The ships comprise the only artifacts on display in the museum.

In many ways the activity room was the most interesting. There are mock ups that you can climb into, the decks of Skuldeleve 1 and also number 2, the warship. The kids gravitate to the warship hull, which is larger inside and has shields and costumes to try on. The knorr deck is smaller (of course) but the cargo area is outfitted with a duplicate of the Mastermyr chest, the metalwork from Oseberg, a low tent cover over barrels and buckets. Some of these are open showing a cargo of glass work, pottery, grains. A very nice presentation over all.
Of most interest to our gang, there was a woman in this area working away on a WW loom. She is involved in a project to research production of a wool sail. I talked to her for about an hour, made a page of notes and shot a number of close in shots of her set up. Got some insight from her about weaving sails and some idea of the ongoing experiment. (Should I write this up here, or wait for a set piece lecture later...)

The outside areas make up the majority of the complex. There is a smallish building that houses the archaeological preservation lab, but it was closed (not staffed, or I would have tried to talk my way in).
There is a large dock area containing something like 20 or so various reconstructed boats. These range from a small one log duggout to the Ottar (based on number 1). Number 1 and number 3 (the coastal trader) are completely outfitted for sailing.
There are a number of various other Scandinavian VA boats reproduced as well. A very complete overview of lapstrake ships up to the early 1900's.

The last part of the complex is the working boat yard. This is a building roughly the size of the Wareham workshop, divided into two larger spaces plus offices and storage. A lot of work also goes on outside. Here was a large peg board arrangement with all the replica tools. They basically have copies of every known VA woodworking tool, thankfully for me each was labled with source, date and artifact number. (As these are replicas, I will be able to check back to the original artifacts for details.)
My pre-contact effort paid off best here. I was allowed to handle and record the tools. For the axes, I just made direct tracings of the profiles, as well as scaled photos. (Mind you, my normal inch-cm scale is also in the missing bag, so I had to use a cheap tape measure.) Again, I will leave the details to a later time or posting. The main thing of note was that their comparison of working these tools against the tool marks shows all the ships found at Roskilde were constructed using standard axes and then finished with planes. They also found that the small spoon bits for rivet holes need to be worked with a bow drill.



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