Obituary by Tinna Damgård-Sørensen
Last Friday, 14th October 2011, Ole Crumlin-Pedersen passed away after a long period of illness, aged 76. Ole Crumlin-Pedersen, born 24th February 1935 in Hellerup, Denmark dedicated his life to maritime cultural heritage, maritime archaeology and old ships. He was a pioneer, who through his professional engagement and an almost unbelievable capacity for work developed an entirely new area of archaeological fieldwork. He changed our view of the world of the past, and gave us new glasses with which to view history. The Viking Ship Museum at Roskilde stands as the most striking trace of what he leaves behind.
Ole’s remarkable career began with the five Viking ships from the Roskilde Fjord, and the construction of a museum around them. This was a pioneering job, which demanded ingenuity, new thinking and co-operation across disciplinary borders. The result was worthy of admiration, and the methodology became the model for work with archaeological ship-finds throughout Europe.
The family of Ole Crumlin-Pedersen have requested that donations be made to Sunita School in Nepal, in place of flowers.
Sunita School offers a two-year practical and theoretical education to illiterate girls over 12 years old, providing them with a foundation from which to build a new life for themselves and their families.
Donations can be made to Sparekassen Thy,
Reg. no.: 9111
Account no.: 0001692275
Ole Crumlin-Pedersen began his glorious career as a maritime archaeologist in 1956, when he came to the National Museum as a young naval construction student to make us aware that some ship-fragments from a wreck in the Roskilde Fjord, known locally as ‘Queen Margrete’s Ship’ were in fact from the Viking Age.
He was evidently right about this, and that was the beginning of a tremendous collaboration, the first phase of which culminated with the excavation of the five Skuldelev ships and the construction of the Viking Ship Hall in Roskilde. This secured his employment at the National Museum, where with a foundation in his own experiences from the reconstruction of Viking ships, he developed into an eminent researcher, who earned an international reputation due to his knowledge of the fascinating development of the wooden ships of Northern Europe, from prehistory through to the present day.
He was also a willing and helpful collaborator, someone that one could always go to in confidence and we are many who will miss him and remember him with deep respect and gratitude.
Ole – ol’ crumblin’ Predersen as he often called himself with a smile – is dead. For me as for many others, he was a constant presence, and a kind of benchmark for our own work. That he is no longer with us seems unreal, and as the end of an era.
With the death of Crumlin, a star has been extinguished in the sky of international research.
Ole drew me into the world of maritime archaeology with his unsurpassed academic understanding and precision.
He will be missed by colleagues the world over.
Flemming Rieck, Museum Director, Køge Museum,
Former leader of Maritime Archaeology Research at the National Museum
Ole has been of enormous significance, both on the scientific and personal plane. On the scientific plane, he has influenced the majority of maritime archaeologists in Europe through his unique combination of knowledge of the source material and methodological original thought. Under Ole's leadership, the Maritime Archaeology Research Centre in Roskilde developed into the world leader within that field.
On the personal plane, Ole was a mentor and source of inspiration. We are many - also beyond the borders of Denmark - who thought we had a special relationship with Ole. We all received support and encouragement from him, along with some difficult questions. But he always listened to what was said, and you can be sure, that he said what he meant. If he was positive, it meant it really was good. If he was doubtful or critical, he voiced that too, but in a way that made you want to embrace his opinion and rethink the problem one more time. Ole had an extreme and exceptional for making others feel intelligent.
Poor is the one, who has lost a friend,
No one can count such a cost.
But ten, yes a thousand time poorer are they,
Who never have had such a friend to be lost.
I have lost my soul mate. That hurts very much. But I am deeply grateful for every single day we had and the many unforgettable moments we shared.
I came to know Ole’s true self. Ole was a richly facetted person, loving, considerate and with a humanistic attitude to other people. Modest and unassuming, he never boasted about all that he had done.
My children, my grandchildren, my family and my close friends knew Ole as an open and giving person.
It is Ole the man that we cared so much for. Naturally, for others it was his professional side that had the greatest meaning. I know that he was a firebrand, one who was committed to tackling enormous tasks as a researcher, writer and so on. During his long and difficult period of illness, he worked on finishing his final, great task. He succeeded and rounded off his life’s work in the best of ways.
I was able to follow Ole all the way to the end, together with his children.
Ole was serene, went calmly to meet his death, and fell asleep to the sound of beautiful classical music, which was a daily part of his life.
Ole made a strong impression on many and gave much that was worthy, strengthened by his honesty and ethical ideals.
Let us honour his memory.
» Book release from the Viking Ship Museum’s publishers...
An article in connection with the publication ‘Archaeology and the Sea in Scandinavia and Britain’, in which Ole Crumlin-Pedersen gives a fascinating overview of more than forty years work in the service of maritime archaeology.
» Publications by Ole Crumlin-Pedersen...
We have collected a list of publications from over the years
The funeral service for Ole Crumlin-Pedersen took place on Saturday 29th October, 11:00 at Himmelev Church in Roskilde.