Estrid Byrding

Estrid Byrding is a reconstruction of Skuldelev 3, a trading ship from the Viking Age, ca. 1040.

Skuldelev 3

Estrid Byrding was built from oak at the museum's shipyard in 2022 as a reconstruction of the small trading ship from the Skuldelev find (Skuldelev 3). The original ship has been used for merchant and cargo shipping in inner Danish waters and the southern Baltic Sea. It is both a very strong and at the same time a very light ship with an extraordinarily beautiful finish.

The original ship was the most well-preserved ship in the Skuldelev find, and so far the most well-preserved ship from the entire Viking Age. As much as 75% of the hull was preserved, so it was possible to reconstruct it with fairly high accuracy. Therefore, Skuldelev 3 was also the first ship to be reconstructed by the Viking Ship Museum.

» Read about Roar Ege, which was the first Skuldelev 3 reconstruction

The reconstruction

Estrid Byrding's hull, like the other reconstructions of the Skuldelev ships, was built using Viking Age technology, i.e. without the use of saws. By examining the preserved traces of tool use on the original wood, it can be seen that the axe was the main tool for cutting planks and all other parts of the ship.

The raw material for the ship was strong oak logs about a metre in diameter, which were split with wedges, cut and fitted into the hull in a fresh and wet (not stored) state. The planks were so soft and supple that they could easily be twisted into shape without boiling or steaming. The seal between the planks is a tarred, three-strand woollen thread similar to the one found between the planks on the original ship.

The surface of the wood is treated with a mixture of wood tar and linseed oil, which gives the beautiful dark brown colour. However, some depictions suggest that Viking ships, especially warships, may have had their sides and sails painted in bright colours. However, no traces of colour were found on the original ship Skuldelev 3.

By the time the reconstruction was finished, approximately 15,000 man-hours had been spent, but then again, everything is handmade. The 35-year-old woollen sail from the museum's previous reconstruction of the ship, Roar Ege, which has now been put on land, was found and repaired because we felt that the sail could be used for several years with the new Estrid Byrding. This in itself is an important consideration; that the old used woollen sail has survived the ship. Perhaps it was the same in the Viking Age... 
The ship's main means of propulsion is a raw sail made of woollen cloth. In addition, four oars can be used for harbour manoeuvres or when there is no wind.

Revisiting Skuldelev 3 

Since the reconstruction of the Skuldelev ships began more than 30 years ago, it has been a firm principle of the museum that the Skuldelev ships can be best understood when we have a full-scale, sailing reconstruction of each ship. To that end, in 2017 we began construction of our second reconstruction of Skuldelev 3 and a new project - Reunion with Skuldelev 3.

But this reconstruction is not just a copy of Roar Ege. The experimental archaeological methods we use at the museum have been refined over the 35 years since the construction of Roar Ege took place, and we have gained experience through building, sailing and using Roar Ege. We can now look at the original ship from a more nuanced perspective: many years of combined experience in interpreting and reconstructing archaeological ship finds, with all the knowledge and inherent understandings that this entails.

The reconstruction process began from scratch, starting with a re-examination of the 1:1 documentation made when the ship was excavated. A new 1:10 model was made, which formed the basis for the shape of the new ship. And experience from the construction of several full-scale reconstructions since 1984 formed the basis for new interpretations of the original find when the new ship was built in full scale.

Information about Estrid Byrding

Dockyard: The Viking Ship Museum
Boatbuilder: Information is on the way
Owner: The Viking Ship Museum
Year of construction: 2022

Length: 14.00 meter (46 feet)
Width: 3.33 meter (11 feet)
Depth/draft: 0.75 meter (2 feet)
Weight: 2.10 tons
Total sail area: 45 m2
Displacement: 6.5 tons
Cargo-carrying capacity: 3-4,5 tons
Number of oars: 6
Crew: 5-8 men
Measured maximum speed, sail: 810 knots
Measured maximum speed, oars: 2,5 knots
Average speed over longer distance: approx 4 knots