Recently published

The Oseberg Ship. Reconstruction of form and function’ by Vibeke Bischoff. Ships and Boats of the North, Volume 9 & Norske Oldfunn, Volume XXXIV. Roskilde 2023. 294 pages. ISBN 978-87-85180-77-3.

The book is published with support from: Dronning Margrethes og Prins Henriks Fond, Eilif Holtes Allmennyttige Fond, Landsdommer V. Gieses Legat og Slots- og Kulturstyrelsen.        

The Oseberg Ship from AD 820 is the world's best-preserved Viking-Age ship-find, lavishly decorated with carvings at its bow and stern. It is also the oldest Nordic ship-find with clear traces of sail and rigging. However, the ship's apparently flimsy construction has been debated ever since it was excavated in 1904 in a burial mound just northeast of Tønsberg, Norway. Was the Oseberg Ship built solely as a non-sailing symbol, to project power and wealth? Was it only built for sailing in near-shore and calm waters? Or was it a technically superior ship, built for ocean sailing in all types of weather? In 1987, a full-scale reconstruction of the ship, based on the original ship as it stands today in the Viking Ship Museum in Oslo, was found to lack crucial sailing characteristics, and it sailed itself underwater soon after it was built.

This volume presents a thorough re-analysis of the Oseberg Ship to determine its construction and performance. Extensive measurements and scans of the original ship, and digital- and scaled models form the basis of this study, which presents a completely new reconstruction. The resulting model and a new full-scale reconstructed ship reveal that the Oseberg Ship was a well-crafted, strong construction, executed at a very high technical level. The Oseberg Ship was not only a magnificent symbol of power and wealth, but also a unique sailing ship – a decisive representative of Nordic shipbuilding and seafaring in the Viking Age.