Viking Ship Museum, Oslo, Norway.
By Cacinda Maloney
Updated: July 2015
Viking Ship Museum, Oslo
Viking Ship Museum, Oslo
At over 1000, years old, the Viking Ship Museum, Oslo houses viking longships and artifacts from the peak of viking marine engineering. The Viking Age, from 800-1100 AD, was the age of the sleek, speedy longships. Without this crucial advance in ship technology, the Vikings would never have become a dominant force in medieval warfare, politics, and trade. These lightening speed ships had the strength to survive ocean crossings while in only 20 inches of water at times. This allowed navigation in very shallow water.
Viking Ship Museum, Oslo: What’s there?
The Viking Ship Museum houses 3 longships: the Oseberg ship, the Gokstad ship, and the Tune ship. Each of the three viking ships are in separate rooms in the Viking Ship Museum, Oslo with a “balcony” where you can go upstairs to a viewing platform. Here you will get a higher and better view of the viking ships. It is much better to see them from a higher perspective. While there you can marvel at the details of the viking boats and how well preserved they are. These massive viking boats are just a few of the things you will see at the Viking Ship Museum, Oslo. You will also find many of the artifacts that were found within or near these buried ships.
This statue outside of the Viking Ship Museum, Oslo is in memorandum to Anne Stine and Helge Ingstad, Norwegian archeologists with the University of Oslo, who discovered the remains of a viking settlement at L’Anse aux Meadows in Newfoundland in 1960.
Viking Ship Museum, Oslo: Viking Ship Oseberg History
The Mother of Norway’s first King, Queen Asa, (mother of Halfdan the Black and grandmother of Harald Fairhair), was buried with her viking ship. There was also the skeletal remains of her daughter on the longship. It is also speculated that it could have been a slave girl, who was sacrificed to accompany her into the afterlife. The women were buried with, among other things, three beautiful sleighs, a carriage decorated with mythical figures, five carved animal heads and dresses. The Queen was wearing a very fine red wool dress with a twill pattern. This was known as a luxury commodity back in the 9th century. She also had a fine white linen veil, multiple combs and pearls.. The younger woman wore a plainer blue wool dress with a wool veil. One of the outfits included silk imported from China. The opulence of the burial site and the goods buried along side them suggests that this was a burial of very high status. Along with the women, there were also horses, cows and six dogs in the grave.
My imagination runs wild as I try to envision these brave women aboard the majestic viking boats with the waves crashing against it from the rough seas in the fjords of Norway. It is hard to believe that they could manage such an enormous creature. Wide bottomed and massive, the viking longship must have taken a slew of men to keep this gigantic ship afloat during the horrific storms of these cold seas.
Viking Ship Museum, Oslo: Viking Ship Oseberg:
It has been determined that the Oseberg viking longship was a pleasure yacht. It is 70 feet long and 16 feet wide. It had a single square sail and fifteen pairs of oars. The researchers estimate this viking ship could achieve a speed of up to 10 knots and was built in the first decades of the ninth century, A.D. (It was determined that the ship dates from before the year 800 and that she was buried since 834). It is the world’s most complete viking ship ever found.
Viking Ship Museum, Oslo: Viking Ship Oseberg Discovery
A farmer discovered the viking ship in 1903 while he was digging in a mound on his farm. It was unearthed in 1904 by a Norwegian and a Swedish archaeologist after a 5 month excavation. The viking ship was very well preserved in a clay pit. It was completely reconstructed and is now the centerpiece of The Viking Ship Museum, Oslo, It was temporarily stored for years at the University of Oslo and it took conservators twenty-one years to meticulously restore the viking ship using almost all of the original wood.
You will surely be impressed with the massive size of the viking longship Oseberg and the amount of original wood they used to help reconstruct it. To get an idea of the size of the ship, be sure to take a look at the size of the people in the two photographs below.
Viking Ship Museum, Oslo: More Viking History
Along with the ship, they also have artifacts that were discovered on the ships, which include everything from richly carved. four-wheeled wooden carts to bed-posts, and wooden chests. More mundane items, such as agricultural and household tools were also found.
The bow of the viking longship has the most amazingly carved head of a serpent, with the stern of the ship its tail. It quite literally could have been the sea monsters people reported to have seen!
The Viking Ship Museum, Oslo also has two other viking boats: the Gokstad and the Tune ships.
Viking Ship Museum, Oslo: The Viking Longship Gokstad
The viking longship Gokstad was a large ocean-going trading vessel. It is 76 feet long and 17 feet wide. It had 16 pairs of oars and a single square sail. This viking longboat looked more seaworthy than the Oseberg. Archaeologists estimate up to seventy people could sail in it. Like the viking longship Oseberg, it was a burial and contained the remains of an elderly man. It’s almost as well preserved as the Oseberg ship and was made around 890 A.D.
Viking Ship Museum, Oslo: Viking Ship Gokstad Discovery
Viking Ship Gokstad was found on the Gokstad Farm in 1879, by the Gokstad boys. The farm is in Sandefjord, Norway, where there was a large burial mound. The two teenage sons were bored on day and they had heard rumor that there was a viking boat buried in the mounds, so they began to dig. Sure enough, they were able to uncover some of it. A year later, an official archeological dig took place. The viking longboat was actually buried below the ground level in clay. The bow and stern were above the clay and had been destroyed, but otherwise the viking longboat was exceptionally well-preserved.
You can marvel at the details of the viking ships and how well preserved they are. Alongside that, you’ll find artifacts on display. Each of the three rooms they occupy has a “balcony” where you go up the stairs to get a higher view. It is great for looking at them from a higher perspective.
Viking Ship Museum, Oslo: The Viking Longship Tune
The third ship at the Viking Ship Museum, Oslo is the 22-meter fragment of the Tune ship. The incomplete state of this ship reminds me how remarkable the nearly complete finds of the Oseberg and Gokstad really were. The Tune ship is the lesser-known and in the poorest condition of the three vessels that are on display at the Viking Ship Museum, Oslo. It was once thought that the Tune was built primarily as a so-called “grave ship” for an important Viking. But since the viking ship has both ruts and signs of wear and tear under the keel, it is now thought that it was actually used as a seafaring vessel. It is now believed that the Tune ship was a fast-sailing courier ship along the coast, since it was equipped with unusually strong rigging for such a small viking boat that was built for 12 oarsmen.
Viking Ship Museum, Oslo: The Viking Longship Tune Discovery
It was discovered on the Haugen Farm, north of Fredrikstad, in a town known as Tune, Norway. It was excavated from a burial mound in 1867. The ship is fragmented, but may have been up to 72 ft long x 14.3 ft wide, with 12 pairs of oars. The length of the keel is 46 ft. There was a burial chamber right behind the mast and in it were found the remains of a viking man. Even though the grave was plundered before its excavation, research has revealed remains of burial gifts: a horse’ s skeleton, parts of a ski, and a sword handle.
Viking Ship Museum, Oslo: How to Build a Viking Longship
Both the Oseberg and the Gokstad were built using the clinker method, rather than the more conventional technique of first building an inner skeleton for the hull. The clinker method is where the oak planks overlap along the edges and give the viking longships their shape. This was the secret of the viking longships their unique construction. A single piece of oak was used to ensure the structural integrity of the keel. It was cut using a broad ax instead of a saw. An expert viking wood maker would split the oak tree trunks into long thin planks and then fasten them with iron nails to a single sturdy keel. The length of the keel then determined the dimensions of the rest of the ship. This invention of the keel is one of the key reasons the Vikings maintained naval superiority for 250 years. A keel allowed the ship to be rowed and sailed. This demonstrates how today we can learn plenty about navigation and shipbuilding from them.
Know before you go:
Viking Ship Museum, Oslo: Arrival
Upon arrival into the viking museum, you will be awe struck at the massive size of this and the two other ships they have on display. They are displayed in all their grandeur and you will truly enjoy a trip to this viking museum. To learn more, go to the website for The Viking Ship Museum, Oslo.
Viking Ship Museum, Oslo: How to get there
The Viking Ship Museum, Oslo is located on a peninsula on the western side of Oslo, Norway called Bydgoy. It is served by Oslo Bus 30.
While in Norway, the Viking Ship Museum, Oslo is a must!
Free access to the Historical Museum
The Viking Ship Museum, Oslo and the Historical Museum form the Museum of Cultural History. Here you will find Norway’s largest gold treasure from Viking times, as well as the rest of the Viking collection.
Tickets for the Viking Ship Museum, Oslo are valid for access to the Historical Museum if used within 48 hours.
To learn more, go to the website for the Historical Museum.
Viking Ship Museum, Olso: Nearby Attractions
The Viking Ship Museum, Oslo and the Norsk Folk Museum are very close together, so go to these on the same day while on the Bogdoy peninsula. You can make a day of it by taking the time to visit the Norwegian Museum of Cultural History known as Norsk Folkemuseum. This place is just as fascinating as visiting the viking longships and allows you to learn even more about viking history.
The Norsk Folk Museum (the Norwegian Museum of Cultural History): This is also A MUST for any visit to Oslo. I have to confess that I missed it the first time I was in Oslo. It was absolutely my favorite thing on my itinerary on my second trip to Oslo. This is where I finally got to visit my first Stave Church, something I had been wanting to see for years. Not only does The Norsk Folk Msueum house the Stave Church, but it also allows viking history to come alive as the world’s first open air museum with over 150 buildings that have been relocated from towns in Norway.
Other Nearby attractions
The Viking Ship Museum, Oslo: Opening hours
- 1 May – 30 September 09:00 – 18:00
- 1 October – 30 April 10:00 – 16:00
Viking Ship Museum, Oslo: Ticket Prices
Viking Ship Museum, Oslo: Oslo Pass
Should you or shouldn’t you purchase the Oslo Pass? The Oslo Pass gives you free entry to more than 30 museums. Even better than that it also gives you free admittance on all public transport and if you have a car, free parking in municipal car parks. It offers a lot more than that, but you can find more information about it here.
The deal is, you decide whether you want a card that is valid for 24, 48 or 72 hours. Once you validate it, the pass is valid for the number of hours you chose. The cool thing is that they have an app on your phone that you can use to track it. I will let you decided on whether or not you think it is worth it, as the whole package is outlined on the official page of the Oslo Tourism Board.
Viking Ship Museum, Oslo: More Tips
Go early, as the viking museum gets pretty packed as the day goes on. There are frequent tourist buses that go here, so plan accordingly. Also, there is free wifi, so no need for this mifi hotspot while you are at the Viking Ship Museum.
Viking Ship Museum, Oslo: Reviews
Find the latest reviews of the Viking Ship Museum, Oslo on Tripadvisor.
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You must realize after reading this article about the viking boats that the Viking River Cruise I took in Europe is nothing quite like these viking longships!