Viking Ship Museum receives support for ‘The clinker-built, open boat’ project

Nordea-fonden has given 1 million kroner to a two-year project intended to increase interest in traditional working boats and get more people out on the water.

The Viking Ship Museum has received 1,000,000 kroner from Nordea-fondens ‘Coastal Fund’ of 50 million kroner, which is awarded to projects that generate activities and strengthen communities along the country’s coastline.

Nordea-fonden has given the Viking Ship Museum 1 million kroner to support ‘The clinker-built, open boat’ project. The project is intended to strengthen the milieu around traditional, working boats in Denmark and contribute to generating more activity along the Danish coastline. 

With 1 million kroner from Nordea-fonden’s ‘Coastal Fund’, the Viking Ship Museum can now implement a project that has been on the drawing board for a year. 

The project is based at the Viking Ship Museum and National Park Skjoldungernes Land, University College SYD, Høgskolen i Sørøst-Norge, Vends Motorik og Naturskole, Aarhus University, Copenhagen University and Roskilde Produktionsskole (Base 4000) are all involved. 

In the North, there is a long tradition for sailing and rowing in open, clinker-built boats. For over 1,000 years, this boat-type has served people around the coast in connection with fishing, trade, transport of goods and people, and – through changing times – more specialised purposes such as war and piloting.  

During the last 50 years, these boats have experienced the greatest shift in their use, from working boats that provided subsistence for families to modern leisure boats, which create a unique framework around active, outdoor pursuits in the fjord and along the coasts. 

Physical encounters with cultural history

The project’s aim is to get more people out on the water by making sailing in open boats more accessible for non-experts. The project is therefore aimed at schools, high schools, boarding schools, associations, universities, museums and businesses, who should be inspired and trained in using traditional boats as the starting point for many different forms of outdoor pursuits, providing opportunities for exploring the many cultural and nature experiences available along the coast.

“With this project, we get the opportunity to strengthen the clinker-building tradition in Denmark by creating networks and developing competence around the use of the traditional boats. Sailing an open boat can be a great source of happiness. It provides the setting for new challenges, learning and excitement – and for the establishment of a sense of community”, tells boatbuilder Søren Nielsen, project owner and Head of the Department for Maritime Craftwork and Reconstruction at the Viking Ship Museum.

“The boat also makes it possible for us to physically encounter cultural history. Questions arise when you are out in these boats – what were the boats used for? How were they built? Who sailed with them? Using these old boats therefore also has a lot to do with immersion in craftwork, identity and a deeper understanding of both history and culture.” 

Only by doing, can we maintain…

With its starting point in concrete practices on the sea and along the coast, the project will develop a series of activities that will support the use of, and knowledge concerning, the clinker-built, open boat. Activities such as:

  • Courses for instructors, teachers and social educators as well as educational programmes for outdoor pursuits instructors, guides and sailing instructors. 
  • Practical seminars geared towards sharing the knowledge and skills connected with the traditional, open working boats. 
  • Building up networks where experience can be exchanged and which can provide a breeding-ground for new projects
  • To establish and develop boat collections and communities of interest. 

Søren Nielsen emphasises how essential the project is for the preservation of the culture around the open, clinker-built boats. “Now, we have the resources to disseminate knowledge about traditional, open boats and I hope that boarding schools, high schools, museums and other institutions in Denmark will rise to the challenge and send their teachers and instructors on courses and seminars, so we can establish a ripple effect that sees more and more people beginning to use the boats. Because it is only through their use that the tradition can be kept alive.”

50 million kroner to coastal activities

The Viking Ship Museum has received 1,000,000 kroner from Nordea Fonden’s ‘Coastal Fund’ of 50,000,000 kroner, which is awarded to projects that generate activities and strengthen communities along the country’s coastline. 

“The coast is ready and we’re pleased that the Viking Ship Museum wants to be involved in creating new, strong communities around Roskilde Fjord and along the rest of the coastline”, tells Henrik Lehman Andersen, director of Nordea Fonden. 

The ‘Coastal Fund’ had a closing date the 10th July 2018 and ca. 100 activity-generating projects around the coast have been awarded funds from Nordea Fonden’s coastal fund. 

Info on ‘the Clinker-built, Open Boat Project’

The project is based at the Viking Ship Museum and National Park Skjoldungernes Land, University College SYD, Høgskolen i Sørøst-Norge, Vends Motorik og Naturskole, Aarhus University, Copenhagen University and Roskilde Produktionsskole (Base 4000) are all involved.

The project’s aim is to safeguard and support the use and dissemination of the clinker-built, open boat.

It is a two-year project.

Jakob Haahr, who has a doctorate in outdoor pursuits will be the leader of the project. He comes from a position as lecturer and subject leader for outdoor pursuits at the Department for Physical Education at Aarhus University.

In addition, he also has great experience with sailing, dissemination, education and the communication of outdoor pursuits, culture and nature. 

About Nordea-fonden

Nordea-fonden supports non-profit, public and charitable purposes. Each year, the fund awards ca. 500 million to projects that promote ‘the good life’ within the fields of health, exercise, nature and culture.

In 2018, the ‘Coast Fund’ will award 50 million kroner to projects that generate activities and strengthen communities along the country’s coastline. The project awards between 100,000 – 1,000.000 kroner and associations, privately owned institutions, local municipalities etc could apply up to the 10th July 2018. 


By: Rikke Tørnsø Johansen