This year the Viking Ship Museum celebrates the 50th anniversary of the excavation of the Skuldelev ships and as a part of that celebration, the Sea Stallion is sailing on a anniversary voyage around Denmark. The 30 metre long Viking ship and its 55 crewmembers are a dream that became reality as a result of 50 years of working with the ships of the Vikings.
During the sumnmer of 1962, archaeologists excavated five ships in the middle of Roskilde Fjord. An iron cofferdam was driven into the seabed and an artificial island was created. The ship parts were excavated in thousands of fragments, and after a long conservation and a meticulous reconstruction process, the 1,000-year-old ship timber could be assembled once again.
The find encompasses five ship-types. Together the provide a mulit-facetted impression of Viking Age society and the range encompassed by the Viking Age shipbuilding. The ships represent the absolute pinnacle of Viking shipbuilding technology, where design and shape are closely aligned with the function of the ship. The five Skuldelev ships reveal stories of warfare and voyages, trade and travels to remote areas and of life by and on the sea, at the time in which Denmark was created. The ships were the prerequisite for the changes that characterise the Viking Age; early Danish towns, the union of the Danish kingdom and the conquest of new territory.
The Viking ships created the foundation for the Viking Ship Museum and the basis for 50 years of research that will continue into the future. They created the dream of exploring and disseminating the maritime culture of the Viking Age. The unique find is of vital importance for the preservation of our maritime archaeological heritage and the reason that Danish maritime archaeology is respected worldwide.
The Sea Stallion voyage is one of the main elements involved in the 50th anniversary celebrations. On board the world's largest reconstruction of a Viking ship are 55 crewmembers and stories of Vikings and their ships. Half of the crew has sailed the ship before but for the other half, it is their first voyage with the Sea Stallion. The longship has not been sailing since the trail voyage to Ireland and back in 2007 - 2008. Back then only a few Danish harbours were visited and the anniversary year is therefore a golden opportunity to send the ship around Denmark.
"We are bringing a part of the museum with us onboard in order to bring that experince to people around Denmark" says Rikke johansen, communication-coordinator at the Viking Ship Museum. " In every harbour the Sea Stallion visits, the crew will invite people onboard, giving them a chance to experince life aboard first hand. The ship will also carry an exhibition and lectures and activities for children will be organised".
The Sea Stallion will leave Roskilde on Sunday the 8th of July at 11.00 and set sail for Haithabu, site of a Viking Age trading city close to the current Schleswig in Northern Germany. Here the ship will participate in a great event bringing together ships and 'Vikings' from all over Nothern Europe. The ship will then sail north towards Korsør which lies close to the old Viking Age fortification Trelleborg, Kerteminde with the Ladby ship grave and Samsø which also has roots in the Viking Age. The ship will return to the familiar waters of Roskilde Fjord and call into Frederikssund the day before the great arrival in Roskilde on the 28th of July at 14.00.
" The weather is of course a crucial factor when sailing a 30 meter long Viking ship without an engine, but with 60 oars and a 112 m2 sail we have good help", says Vibeke Bischoff, skipper on the Sea Stallion. Other conditions also play a role when planning the anniversary voyage, as the skipper explains, " Some harbours do not have the space or facilities to welcome the world's largest Viking Ship with 55 men and women onboard along with tents and equipment for cooking etc. We have laid a route with a few harbours already planned, but depending on wind and weather conditions we may visit more harbours along the route".
From the moment the Sea Stallion slips free of its moorings in Roskilde on Sunday the 8th of July untill the day the ship returns, you can follow the voyage online on the Viking Ship Museum website. Communication equipment is mounted onboard and you can follow the ships course, speed and position. The information is sent from the ship via satellite to the website every 15 minutes.
Museum curator, Louise K. Henriksen, is a crewmember onboard and will write a travel blog about lifeonboard while skipper Vibeke Bischoff will update the virtual log book.
So follow the voyage - we might come to a harbour near you!
> Read more about the Sea Stallion here...
By: Rikke Tørnsø Johansen
02/07 - 2012