I’ve never been much of a fan of the Vikings. Too violent, homeland is too cold, not enough big ruins to explore. Well, after the talk by Louise Henriksen on Jan. 20, I’m ready to move to Denmark and put on the furs! What a thrilling lecture that was. (Stop me if I go overboard with my hyperbole—I just can’t help myself!)
There were SO many wonderful bits of information that I gleaned from the lecture, such as the fact that the Viking Ship Museum in Roskilde, Denmark owns five artifacts: five Viking ships excavated from the fjord! And while I tend to think that what archaeologists excavate were artifacts that just happened to end up where they are found, these five ships were purposefully sunk in order to protect the Viking capital at Roskilde from attack. And the ships were in 100,000 pieces. And the tall mast of the long boat was dated to a tree harvested near Dublin, Ireland in April or May 1042. And one of the main sources for the reconstruction of the boats was the Bayeux Tapestry, quite a bit of which is devoted to the construction of the boats that William the Conqueror used to, well, conquer.
I loved that the ships were brightly colored. I loved that the big sail was 120 meters square. I loved that the crew for the reconstructed Viking long boat, the Sea Stallion, was chosen based on their sailing expertise and experience AND on their social skills. (I might get by on the social skills part, although I do crave my privacy, but my sailing skills, in spite of a pretty strong stomach, would have resulted in my being thrown in with the ballast.) Less than 1 square meter per person on shipboard…No, I wouldn’t have passed the social skills test.
I’m still in awe over the dedication it took to reconstruct such a magnificent ship, test it, and sail it. Here is a picture of the ship as it was being excavated from the fjord:
This is how the long boat looks in the Viking Ship Museum:
Here is the Sea Stallion under construction:
And views of the Sea Stallion as it sailed from Denmark to Norway, around Scotland to Ireland, and through the English Channel and the North Sea back to Denmark.
And finally, a link to a BBC documentary on the voyage: