Who doesn’t love learning about Vikings? We see them a lot in popular culture: computergames, comics, movies (like How to tame your dragon) and even in music there’s a subgenre of metal called Viking metal. And even though most of these representations are not based on historical facts (did you know for example that Vikings did not have horns or wings on their helmets?), they do make people interested in these Scandinavian seafarers. And what better place is there to learn about Vikings than in Oslo? The Viking Ship Museum has three Viking Ships, a few sledges and many other items used by the Vikings.
The Viking Ship Museum is located outside of the city centre. The fastest way to get there is by ferry. You’ll need ferry 19 from the piers near the Radhuset. You could also take bus 30, but it takes longer.
The most famous ship of the Viking Ship Museum is the Oseberg ship, which is still completely whole. The ship dates from the 9th century, so it’s quite special that this wooden ship is still intact. It was found on a burial site with two female skeletons and a lot of grave goods in it. Even the remains of 14 horses, an ox and three dogs were found on the ship. Researchers think one of the skeletons might have been of Queen Åsa, a legendary Viking queen. She was the daughter of the king of Agder and was a beautiful woman. The king of Borre wanted to marry her, but her father refused, after which the king of Borre killed her father and her brother and abducted her. One year later, she got her revenge. She killed her husband and took her newborn son to her homeland Agder, where she took power and reigned for a few years.
The other ships aren’t as intact as the Oseberg ship, but you still get an idea of what they would have looked like. They have an interesting shape and I love the details that you can see on the wood. This also applies to the wooden sledges that are on display. The patterns carved into the wood are beautiful.
And the Vikings were not only good at carving wood. They also made beautiful jewelry. The patterns resemble those on the wood. Both male and female Vikings wore jewelry. Women wore brooches near their shoulders to fasten their overdresses and men wore rings. Their jewelry was often made of silver or gilded bronze, but there are some pieces made of solid gold, which were probably meant for royals.
There are also a few carved animal heads on display in the Viking Ship museum. Here you can also admire the great woodworking skills of the vikings. Animal heads were often on the prow of these longships, which is why these ships were called dragonships by enemies of the Vikings, such as the English. Can you imagine seeing a dragonhead appearing in the mist before you when you are navigating the sea and knowing that you’re screwed because the Vikings are coming?