Gislinge Boat Open Source Project 2016 – experimental archaeology in focus

During 2015, the Viking Ship Museums boatbuilders built a reconstruction of the Gislinge Boat, a 7.7m long working boat dating from ca. 1130 AD. Gisle, as the boat was named, was built as the focus of the Museum's Gislinge Boat Open Source Boatbuilding Project – a new, multi-disciplinary approach to boatbuilding that sought to involve the public as much as possible in the boatbuilding process, both here at the Museum and online via social media.

After Gisle's launch in October 2015, the project team carried out a series of sailing and rowing trials in order to establish the boats seaworthiness. A number of questions arose during this process: could the height of the freeboard be increased? Is there an advantage to be gained in having more than three rowing stations? Would altering the sails shape impact on the boats trim?  

These questions and more prompted the boatbuilders to re-examine the original find material to see what scope there was for reinterpretation of the boats form. The Gislinge Boat didn't survive in its entirety – the long centuries under water and earth took their toll, and the upper strakes of the boat were not recovered during excavation. This means that we have the chance to offer a new interpretation of the upper parts of the hull, an interpretation based on their experiences sailing with Gisle the previous year.  

The Gislinge Boat Open Source Project 2016 will see this re-interpretation of the Gislinge Boat become a reality. Here on the website, you can read more about the experimental archaeological method used to reconstruct the boat, as well as follow the construction process as it happens. 

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