Experimental archaeological research

Maritime experimental archaeology involves reconstructing archaeological ship finds in order to explore how they sailed and how they were used by people in the past. The process involves many experts, including archaeologists, boatbuilders, craftsmen and ship-reconstructors. 

First, the original parts are measured and the a 3-D model is made in cardboard. This forms the bases for the boatbuilders work in full-scale, which finishes with a final reconstruction drawing.

When completed, the full-scale reconstruction is tested to establish its sailing capabilities. each stage is documented and analysed, adding to our understanding of seafaring in the past. 

Through the years the Viking Ship Museums's boatbuilders have built reconstructions of every one of the five original ships on exhibit in the Viking Ship Hall as well as severeal other boats in order to get an idea about the use and character of the boats. Some boats we even build twice because we then can focus on different aspects in the process, eg: 

  • How was iron produced in the 12th century? 
  • Can you cleave crooked timber and is there any advantage to be gained by doing so?
  • Can the modern boatbuilders optimise their use of the 12th century boatbuilding tools?

We also experiment with sail weaving and sail materials as well as different kind of ropes.