The Viking Ship Museum

Trip Start Aug 25, 2007
Trip End Dec 20, 2007

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Saturday, September 29, 2007

Today I had an all day study tour for my Nordic Mythology class.  We met at 9:30 am and didn't get back until 6pm.  Our first stop was in Roskilde.  Roskilde was basically the Viking capital of Denmark.  It's located on a fjord with access to the ocean. 

The Viking Ship Museum has the remains of 5 Viking ships on view.  Unlike most ship burials, these ships were actually found in the fjord.  This was because there were three main routes for ships to get to Roskilde.  For defensive measures, they only liked to keep one open...the hardest one that only locals knew how to navigate.  To block one of the other ways, they purposefully sunk these five ships to create a blockage.

Later on, when the ships were rediscovered, they were slowly excavated, taken apart piece by piece and reassembled in the museum.    A metal ship outline is built to support the remaining wood fragments.  Among the five ships were ones used as merchant vessels and of course, ones used for war.

The museum is pretty small but has a lot of other things to do.  They've actually recreated all 5 ships as they would have looked back in the day and you can take a trip onto the fjord in one of them.  They also have an area where you can dress like a viking, try on chain mail, and play around in a recreated ship.  It's definitely a fun and interesting museum and I am told, way better than the other Scandinavian viking ship museums, as these ships were not overly restored.

After that, we visited a burial mound.  Having already been in a burial mound, it wasn't all that thrilling the second time around.    The really tall guy is my professor lecturing about the mound in complete darkness.  The light is only from the flash.

We also made one more quick stop that, at first, looked like just a field with a bunch of cows.  To all the nerdy kids in Nordic mythology (75% of them), we found out that this was where the hall Heorot used to stand.  It's mentioned in Beowulf but most people thought it was a mythological place until they finally found remains of a hall in the area.  There was also this little formation of stones. 

Many stones are missing and I couldn't really take an accurate picture.  Basically, they form the rough outline of a viking ship.  There were 5 ship shaped burial mounds in this area.  As our professor explain, though, many of the stones are missing since before a couple of years ago, they weren't protected by law.  Denmark doesn't have gravel.  Gravel is apparently a really important thing and also really really expensive when you have to import it.  The farmer who used to own these lands started drilling holes in these rocks, putting wood in them, and using water to make the wood expand and break the rock into gravel.  But yeah, can't do that anymore.
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