The secrets of the Viking ship - Tour of a 1,000-year-old warship

We are building a new Viking ship. The ship's long keel has already been completed by the boatbuilders, and is now laid and ready at the boatyard. The keel is the backbone of the ship - from here, the ship will grow over the next 4-5 years. The project is based on the knowledge we have from the studies of the original Viking ship, the 11th century warship Skuldelev 5, which is on display at the Viking Ship Museum.

The building of the reconstruction requires extensive experience in the art of Viking Age boatbuilding and knowledge of the special materials and techniques of the period.

Special tour of the warship, from discovery to reconstruction

Join this tour, which goes behind the scenes of how we reconstruct Viking ships. The tour starts in the Viking Ship Hall. Here, the original ship is exhibited together with four other 11th century Viking ships, which together form one of the most important ship-finds in world history.

Skuldelev 5 - a warship from the past

Skuldelev 5, is what we call the original ship today. It is a slender warship of 17.3 meters in length, which was built in Scandinavia around the year 1030.

We have no written sources to tell us who had the ship built or why it was necessary to have a warship in their fleet. But there are some - almost invisible - traces on the ancient ship's timber, which the Museum's experts have examined. The traces reveal a number of secrets about the ship's construction and use, but there are still big questions that we are trying to wring out of the ship.

Why do we build reconstructions of Viking ships?

Although we carefully study the original ships, there are questions we would never be able to answer if we did not test the theories. Today we have knowledge about the Vikings' ships and voyages, which we could never have if we had not tested the ships in reality. That is why we are now building a reconstruction of the warship.

But it is not the first time that the museum has built a reconstruction of the Skuldelev 5 ship. Almost 30 years ago we launched the Viking ship 'Helge Ask'. Now the same ship must be reconstructed and built again. Why?

Helge Ask was built 30 years ago

The tour goes from the Viking Ship Hall and out to the Museum Harbor, where our Viking ships lie side by side. What have we learned from sailing with Helge Ask all these years, and what can we find out about the Vikings by building the ship one more time?

Visit to the shipyard

The sound of axe chopping and the smell of fresh wood tar drives the story on. The large oak trunks and piles of lumber lie waiting around the boatyard site. It is material for the ship's planks and interior parts. The boatbuilders transform the fresh oak with replicas of Viking Age tools. No saw - the Vikings didn't use them - but axes, drill bits and chisels.

The tour ends at the boatyard. The journey from the original ship find to reconstruction gives insight into the big questions: Why are we building Skuldelev 5 once again. What's different now? And why didn't we do that 30 years ago - have we become wiser or have we gotten closer to the truth since then?