Oslo has so many museums that it’s hard to chose which ones to visit when you’re staying there only for a few days. As we had decided to go see the stave church at the Norsk Folkemuseum open air museum, the next obvious stop was the near by, Viking Ship museum. Because Norway without Viking ships is like Egypt without pyramids!!
Of course I would have loved to see the Munch Museum, the Nobel Price center and the Vigeland Museum and I know M. A would have been very interested in the FRAM museum, but time is always a major consideration and decisions are so hard to take!!
So there we were, so close to the Viking Ship museum and although a bit tired from our visit of the Norsk Folkemuseum, that we had to see those Viking ships! And it was not disappointing!!
The Viking Ship Museum
First a word on the Museum itself. The building that showcase the ships is a former church. The ships are displayed in the nave and the transept and the other items like the sleds in the quire. I love it!! Such a brillant idea! The church is like a jewelry box for those ships, a perfect fit!!
It will not stay like that for ever, as an international architectural design competition started in September 2015, for the construction of a new Viking Age Museum.
It’s going to be bigger, better and display more things.
For now, the church hosts the 3 World’s best preserved Viking ships: The Oseberg ship, the Gokstad ship and the Tune ship as well as other treasures…
The Oseberg ship
The Oseberg ship is the first one you will see, when walking into the museum. The Whoa! effect is immediate!!
The Oseberg ship was built mainly from oak and pine, in western Norway, around the year 820. Richly decorated, the Oseberg ship could be both sailed and rowed by the power of 30 oarsmen. It was used as a burial ship in the year 834, for 2 women who were most likely quite prosperous and influential, to receive such honor.
It took only 3 months to excavate the Oseberg ship, during the summer of 1904. However, it took 21 years to prepare and restore it to it’s former glory.
The Gokstad ship
When reaching the end of the nave, you have a tough choice to make… left or right?! 😉 Well of course you will go left to see the Gokstad ship!
The Gokstad ship was built in the height of the Viking period, around 900. The Gokstad ship could have been used for voyages of exploration, trade and Viking raids as it could be both sailed and rowed by 34 oarsmen. 32 gold & black shields were hanged on the sides and must have given it, an even more impressive look.
The Gokstad ship was used as a burial ship for a warrior who had most likely died from battle wounds. Amongst other things buried with him, 12 horses and 8 dogs were found in his grave.
Excavated in 1880, the Gokstad ship was found extraordinarily well preserved as it laid in clay in a mount burial.
The Tune ship
The Tune ship is in the right transept and is perhaps less impressive as it is displayed as found. It is the first viking ship to have been excavated in the year 1867. Back then, archeology was only just developing, and the ship received a bit of a hard treatment. Pulled from its grave quickly and roughly, left outdoor for a time… it didn’t get the care the other ships got.
The Tune ship was also built from oak around 900 AD and used as a burial ship, for a man. The burial mount, in which the Tune ship laid, was one’s of Norway largest burial mount (80 metres in diameter and 4 meters high).
Because of it’s construction features: a smaller size than the Gokstad and Oseberg ships, a stronger mast enabling a very large sail … the Tune ship was most likely a fast sea-going vessel with particularly good sailing properties, although it could also be rowed of course!
The other treasures
The quire showcases the treasures found in the burial mount together with the ships. The dead were well equipped for the afterlife with jewelry, armors, weapons, wagons and sledges!!
The carving work on those items are just incredibly detailed and very beautiful.
TheViking Ship Museum is truly impressive. The downside of it is that you can only leave, wanting to know more…. in which case, you have to go to the Museum of Cultural History!
The technical bits:
The official Viking Ship Museum website: www.khm.uio.no
The museum is super close to the Norsk Folkemuseum. So again to get there, you can drive your car or take the bus but the nicest way to get there is to take a ferry to the Bygdoy peninsula and walk straight up on Uk Aveny.
View of the FRAM museum from the ferry.. next time!!
Have you visited the Viking Ship Museum?
Which museum did you like best in Oslo?
Don’t be shy, tell me in the comment below 😉