The recreated ships
At the Viking Ship Museum's shipyard, reconstructions of the 5 Viking ships that were excavated at Skuldelev in Roskilde Fjord in 1962 are being built. Since Roar Ege, as the first reconstruction of the small merchant ship Skuldelev 3, was built in 1983, all 5 Skuldelev ships have been reconstructed. Some of them even two times.
The sailing reconstructions are located in the Museums harbor during the summer season, side by side with the traditional wooden boats. The harbor environment and the surrounding exhibitions and activities emphasize the direct connection between the Skuldelev ships in the Viking Ship Hall and their successors - and build a bridge between history and tradition.
In 1999, the work on Ottar began, a reconstruction of the large ocean-going cargo ship from western Norway. During the building process the boatbuilder found some unusual and unidentifiable axe marks on a biti.
The ship is a war machine, built to carry many warriors at high speed. It is a bold design, both heavy and strong enough to carry its 112 m² sail, but also sufficiently light and long to be rowed by a crew of 60.
The ship is the best preserved of the five Skuldelev ships with 75 % of the hull intact. The ship has been reconstructed two times - Roar Ege in 1982 and Estrid Byrding in 2017.
Helge Ask was reconstructed as Skuldelev 5 originally appeared. The bottom of the hull and the entire port side - approximately 65 % - is preserved and it was therefore possible to recreate the starboard side.
In 1998, the museum's boatbuilders reconstructed Skuldelev 6, the fishing boat from western Norway. Skuldelev 6 has reconstructed 2 times, first i 1998 and in 2010.
The five Skuldelev ships were built and used by people who left innumerable traces in the vessels: The forms of the ships reveal their function, the waters they were built to sail, and the boatbuilders' wishes for sailing capabilities. The wood fibre structure tell us how certain parts of the tree were used to build specific ship parts. And tool marks tell us how the boatbuilder used axes, planes and drills.
The boatbuilders at the Viking Ship Museum works with copies of Viking Age tools and corresponding materials and techniques. The shape of the hull is reconstructed based on the preserved parts of the original ship. The missing parts are reconstructed using other ship-finds, Viking Age ship motifs and more modern traditional Nordic clinker-built boats, which hark back to the Viking Age ship design. The process is called experimental archaeology.
The reconstructions are not definitive truths. The represent suggestions on how the ships may have looked 1,000 years ago. For each new reconstruction we built and sail, we learn more about the importance om ships in Viking Age society.
Visit the Boat Yard where the smell of tar and newly cleeved timber hangs in the air and see the boatbuilders continue 1,000 year old crafts traditions.
» Read more about the boat yard here...
» Go sailing on Roskilde Fjord in a Nordic clinker-built wooden boat in the summer season...
At the boatyard, clinker-built utility boats and reconstructions of Viking ships are built. The audience can follow the craftsmen working up close.
From 1 May to 30 September
Get on board one of the descendants of the Viking ships, a Nordic wooden boat, and sail out on Roskilde Fjord!