Gæsteforskere og ph.d.-stipendiater 

Vikingeskibsmuseet byder på ideelle studieforhold for gæsteforskere og ph.d.-stipendiater, der forsker i maritim kulturhistorie eller formidling. Vikingeskibsmuseet råder over Danmarks største maritimarkæologiske arkiv og bibliotek. Korte eller længere studieophold kan aftales med: 

Athena Trakadas, PhD 

Email: at(at)vikingeskibsmuseet.dk 

Nedenfor er opstillet ph.d.-projekter der netop nu foregår i samarbejde med Vikingeskibsmuseet samt de aktuelle længerevarende gæsteforskerophold: 

Throughout 2023 Dr. Britt Baillie will be a Visiting Scholar at the Viking Ship Museum. She will be carrying out research to comparatively analyze and contextualize the Viking Age mass graves at Salme, Repton, Weymouth, and Oxford. She will also be working on an article on the uses and abuses of Viking Age heritage in contemporary Europe. 

Britt Baillie is a Panel Tutor at the Institute of Continuing Education (ICE) (University of Cambridge), an Honorary Research Associate, McDonald Institute of Archaeology (University of Cambridge), a researcher and founding member of the Centre for Urban Conflict Research (University of Cambridge), and an editor of the Palgrave Studies in Heritage and Conflict series. She studied Medieval Archaeology at the University College London. Subsequently, she completed her MPhil and PhD in Archaeology and Heritage Management at the Department of Archaeology, University of Cambridge. After holding several research and teaching posts at Cambridge, she moved to South Africa where she carried out research on contested heritage in contested urban space.

In his PhD-Project, Massimiliano Ditta from the University of Stavanger, Museum of Archaeology, aims to deliver a new standpoint for understanding the Late Iron Age period in Western Norway by exploring the relation between shipbuilding material culture and expansion, interaction, and centralisation of power.

The topography of Western Norway has always made seafaring an indispensable requirement for its population. Thus, it is not surprising that since prehistory, boats and ships were critical tools for communication, trade, and war and represented one of the most important motifs in religious symbolism. This especially holds true for the Late Iron Age (AD 550-1050) in Western Norway, where boats and ships were pivotal for forming and maintaining power centres and the Viking age’s westward expansion. Although ships and boats played a significant role in Western Norway, our knowledge about ship technology is meagre. For the Late Iron Age, studies on shipbuilding in Norway are limited to a handful of ship finds from graves or bogs offering contexts such as Oseberg, Gokstad, Tune and Kvalsund. Besides these complete finds, there are several isolated or fragmentary nautical timber finds from the Late Iron Age stemming from bogs and graves, but they have received little or no attention at all.

Through detailed documentation and analysis of ship finds and fragmentary nautical timbers from bogs, graves, and other contexts in Western Norway, the relations between technology, society, and geopolitical contexts can be made visible. The objective is to investigate the hypothesis that the transformation processes and consolidation of central places during the Late Iron Age were actants in the developments and emergence of variations in the shipbuilding practice in the region.

So, in short this project aims to:

A) Investigate the full potential of an interdisciplinary approach by combining a first overview of the available material with methodological innovations in documentation and dendrochronology to achieve a novel basis for exploring shipbuilding as an integrated actor in social communities and political regionality.

B) To examine the relationship between communities of practice, identity and technology through the lenses of actor-network theory and the social embeddedness of technology.

Følgende ph.d.-projekter er afsluttet: 

Vibeke Bischoff has concluded her research project and defended her PhD-dissertation "Reconstruction of the Oseberg ship: Form, construction and function", at The Institute of Architecture and Culture, Royal Danish Academy.

Read more about the project here           

Vibeke Bischoff investigated the early Viking-Age ship-find, the Oseberg ship. The ship, built in AD 820 (Western Norway) and buried in a grave mound in AD 834 (Vestfold, Norway), was excavated in 1904 and re-assembled for exhibit at the Viking Ship Museum in Oslo. The Oseberg Ship is the earliest known Viking-Age ship-find with traces from sail and rigging, and is therefore an important source for the study of seafaring in the early Viking-Age.

The now concluded PhD-project re-evaluated and reconstructed the hull form of the Oseberg ship through 3D scans of the exhibited ship and new interpretation of its preserved parts. The project provided a more detailed insight into the shape of the Oseberg ship, and a more knowledge of the sailing capabilities of the ship.

The project was kindly supported by The Danish Agency for Culture and Palaces (Slots- og Kulturstyrelsen).     

Matthew Delvaux has concluded his research project and defended his PhD-dissertation "Transregional Slave Networks of the Northern Arc, 700–900 CE", at Boston College, Department of History. 

He was a guest researcher at the Viking Ship Museum while conducting is research. His dissertation bridges the evidence of Latin and vernacular texts from Western Europe, Scandinavian and Baltic archaeology, and early Arabic texts to surface people (i.e. slaves) who were marginalized in the past and who remain marginalized in scholarship today.

Marco Russo, PhD

Department of Architecture and Industrial Design “Luigi Vanvitelli”

Seconda Università Degli Studi di Napoli

The research project seeks to identify guidelines and specific solutions for restoration and conservation of underwater cultural assets. This research project - for which it is consider appropriate in-depth analysis at the museum – is a part of the PhD research of the candidate Marco Russo, under the supervision of Prof. Arch. Efisio Pitzalis with a thesis: “New buildings for protections and museumification of underwater cultural heritage – Active conservation for archaeology as experience”. The student is classifying various typology of underwater rests for examine in depth nature and state of conservation for thematic and methodological approach in view of design architectural solutions for these archaeological sites. Particular attention to motionless ruins as the roman buildings and “movable” rests as roman or medieval ships, to identify technics for the correct in situ fruition or realization of on-shore museum ad hoc for historic ships. Condition to be pursued also with the use of low-tech floating structures, an alternative to expensive museums offshore, elements inserted within local economy (think of the case of the Phlegraean Fields) to use for underwater archeology courses. The research period at the museum will be useful for a study in order to trace design guidelines for an “architectural shell” (building with particular indoor condition) as the Viking Ship Museum in Rosklde. Research through identify contemporary solutions in line with conservation techniques suggested by 2001 UNESCO Convention for underwater cultural heritage.

A particular in-depth analysis will be dedicated to the architectural aspects and details of Viking Ship Museum in Rosklde, building designed for conservation of the five Viking’s ships by Erik Christian Sørensen. Architectural solutions designed by the danish architect and contingent improvement of the structure will be studied in view to desing possible technical/architectonic upgraded solutions designed by candidate.

Thomas Dhoop, PhD
Centre for Maritime Archaeology
University of Southampton


Thesis title: Shaped by Ships and Storms: A Maritime Archaeology of Medieval Winchelsea

Start date: 26 September 2013


Submission date: 22 August 2016


Viva voce examination: 21 October 2016


PhD award date: 30January 2017


Link to thesis: <link http: eprints.soton.ac.uk>eprints.soton.ac.uk/404144/


The Viking Ship Museum in Roskilde has been a valuable partner in several ways during my PhD research at the Centre for Maritime Archaeology at the University of Southampton. From the very beginning, while endeavouring to secure the necessary funding to conduct the research, Anton Englert – then the leader of the research team at the museum and now the leader of the Füssen Heritage Museum in Bavaria, Germany – contributed to the research statement and supported the various funding applications.


Over the past three years, I spent two six week periods at the museum, initially supervised by Anton Englert, later by Morten Ravn, during which I had full access to the resources in the library and expertise of the staff. The opportunity to present several aspects of my research during various presentations to the museum staff – an eclectic body of boatbuilders, craftsmen and woman, archaeologists, heritage researchers and museum professionals – allowed me to draw from a rich and diverse body of specialised knowledge. Their input has had a tangible impact on the way ship archaeology and the archaeology of medieval towns was approached in the thesis. Also the opportunity to familiarise myself with Danish medieval towns, in particular Roskilde itself and later Køge, is proving instrumental in current plans to expand the scope of my research.


Finally, Anton Englert, who kindly proof read the entire thesis before its final submission, remotely continued his support until the completion of the degree.





My thesis presents a maritime archaeology of the medieval port town of Winchelsea, in East Sussex, United Kingdom. It specifically researches the aspects of seafaring and storminess which are shown to be vital for understanding how the town was structured and how life was lived. The study brings together a variety of sources – many collected during a fieldwork project at the ancient waterfront – which allowed for the production of a narrative about a community whose attitudes towards the sea shifted over time. In the process, a number of theoretical and methodological tools were developed that allow for (medieval) port towns to be studied in new ways, unhindered by any remaining perceived boundaries between the maritime and terrestrial spheres.


The theoretical underpinning that functions as the study’s foundation is a relational approach – the maritime townscape – aided by two theoretical devices – rhythmanalysis and spatial trialectics – that encourage researchers to consider how the dynamisms of everyday life in a port were materialized in the past and how they can be studied and reconstructed by archaeologists. Approaching Winchelsea from the water, materials and places are discussed as they are encountered along the way. The ship archaeological material from the region is synthesized and contextualised within developments in shipbuilding in northwest Europe. This material serves as the basis for a discussion of the types and sizes of ships that would have called at medieval Winchelsea and the organisation and working of the Camber Estuary which functioned as the new town’s roadstead. These findings are subsequently related to New Winchelsea’s waterfront. Taking the results of a geotechnical survey conducted as part of this project as a starting point, the available information about the area is brought together and the first archaeological interpretation of how the waterfront was structured and could have functioned is put forward. Venturing into the town itself, the tools of spatial analysis are used to raise questions about Winchelsea’s seemingly simple grid-like structure and it is argued that the town was laid out with seafaring in mind. Yet, this structure imposed on a population in a top-down manner was to a large extent negotiated by the people’s own attitudes and affordances. One of the most telling indications of these are the remarkable instances of ship graffiti in the town – in St Thomas’ church and Blackfriars Barn undercroft – which were recorded using reflectance transformation imaging (RTI) and analysed. While highlighting the complexities involved in interpreting and finding meaning in ship graffiti, it is nonetheless argued that they demonstrate a multifaceted relationship with the sea. Finally, a local proxy for high-energy events is developed by dating a rhythmite sequence from a core extracted from the silted River Brede using paleomagnetic secular variation (PSV) and subjecting it to geochemical analysis (micro-XRF) using the ITRAX core scanner. This proxy allowed Winchelsea’s history of storminess to be both refined and contextualised within wider developments of medieval climate change.


Working on the series of storm events that led to the destruction of ‘old’ and the founding of ‘new’ Winchelsea, it is proposed that the production of localised well-dated environmental proxies could contribute to solving methodological difficulties with reconciling information about weather events from written records and information about climate from environmental proxies. The localised proxy for high-energy events generated at Winchelsea revealed that weather conditions seemingly worsened in the second half of the thirteenth century, at the eve of the transition from the Medieval Climatic Anomaly (AD 950-1250) to the Little Ice Age (AD 1400-1700), forcing the residents of Old Winchelsea to protect themselves by building sea defences and ultimately requiring them to relocate to a nearby hilltop. Stimulated by the theoretical device of spatial trialectics, the choice of the new site, located c. 1.5 km inland, is interpreted, not only as a way of physically protecting oneself, but also as suggestive of a growing unease towards the sea. The results of the geotechnical survey indicate that the waterfront at the new site needed a certain amount of work to keep it viable as an access point to the water and provides physical evidence for what is suggested in the written sources: it was “perilous at all flowings of the tide”. Yet, the ambition reflected in the town’s layout and the fact that systems were put in place that allowed Winchelsea to continue functioning as a port, hint at a multifaceted relationship with the sea. Encouraged by the theoretical toolkit of rhythmanalysis, it is shown that people’s daily lives in Winchelsea were, to a large extent, lived to the rhythms of the sea: from millennial and centennial storminess down to the yearly sailing season and the daily tidal cycles. Yet, people’s activities emerged with the rhythms of the sea and not as a result of them. The complexity of this relationship is perhaps captured best by the ship graffiti. On the one hand, people found it necessary to engrave ship drawings in stone pillars in St Thomas, perhaps to acquire some form of spiritual protection from the sea, while – at the same or at a different time – also scratching ship drawings in wet plaster in an ostensibly secular undercroft, perhaps commemorating the mustering of a large naval fleet before setting out, and therefore seemingly celebrating the beneficial aspects of living beside the sea.

Daniel Zwick, PhD

Graduate School Human Development in Landscapes

University of Kiel

The Limes Saxoniae remained a stable cultural frontier zone until the year 1147, when Danish and German princes managed to subdue the Slavic lands east of the Elbe lastingly in a joint maritime-terrestrial campaign. It was the first papally authorised crusading campaign contra Sclavos ceterosque paganos habitantes versus Aquilonem. This expeditio was a precedent and entered the history books as the Wendish Crusade, with many more campaigns to follow against the pagan Slavs, Prussians and Balts. The Baltic Sea formed part of this contested frontier zone between Catholic Europe and the last pagan nations and divided as much as connected the now emerging overseas enclaves of the former. Not only sea routes across the Baltic Sea, but river transport rose in importance in the densely forested lands of the east and presented almost the only viable means of access into the hinterlands – to the riches of Russia. This study focuses on the Baltic Sea and its river basins’ role in facilitating maritime logistics in the time of the northern crusades in general, and changes in shipbuilding in particular, especially the advent of the cog, which verification in the archaeological record is still disputed. Strikingly, with the fall of the Iron Curtain there is an interesting contemporary parallel, in that the Baltic Sea region has ceased to be a (political) frontier zone once again, which makes this subject topical. The shared cultural identity and heritage of the Baltic Rim, however, was not driven apart to a lasting effect by the Cold War. The foundation stone for its historical unity was laid with the “Europeanization process” in the wake of the crusades, which entailed Christianization (and the not so novel idea of a united Europe, yet under the auspices of Rome rather than Brussels), urbanization, the rise of a new civic class of patricians and early capitalism, culminating in the formation of the Hanseatic League. Significantly, the Teutonic Order was the only territorial power to become a member of the league, which gives already a glimpse on the importance of sea trade for the emerging crusader states, whose scope reached far beyond its initial military role.

Jonas Abkjær Andersen, ph.d.

Institut for Miljø, Samfund og Rumlig Forandring 

Roskilde Universitet

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Sammenfatning: Formålet med afhandlingen er at bidrage til at belyse relationerne mellem materialitet og narrativitet i en museal og kulturarvsmæssig kontekst i forhold til formidling. Det empiriske materiale stammer fra etnografiske feltstudier udført ved Vikingeskibsmuseet i Roskilde. Afhandlingen fremhæver tre udfordringer i museums- og kulturarvsforskningen. For det første er der inden for materialitetsfeltet uafklarede spørgsmål om stoflighed. For det andet er der uforløste diskussioner om narrativbegrebet. For det tredje er der oversete muligheder i at anvende en fænomenologisk tilgang til at undersøge materialitet og narrativitet. Igennem afhandlingen tages stilling til disse udfordringer. Stoflige kendetegn fremhæves og betydningen af det stoflige i formidlingen forklares teoretisk og analytisk. Narrativbegrebet kvalificeres med en diskussion og analyse af narrative niveauer i forbindelse med materialitet og stoflighed. Det forklares, og vises, at en fænomenologisk tilgang, med fokus på erkendelsens processer, er velegnet til at undersøge formidlingens måder at virke på. Afhandlingen konkluderer, at fortolkninger mellem materialitet og narrativitet i formidling er kendetegnet af vekslen og tvetydighed. Afhandlingen introducerer samtidigt et nyt begreb, mysterium, til at forklare formidling. Menneskers forhold til fortiden betragtes på denne måde som en higen efter indvielse i et mysterium, en indvielse der ikke finder sted.

Jörn Bohlmann, ph.d.

Program for Bygg og Miljø

Sør-Trøndelag University College & Norwegian University of Science and Technology, Trondheim 

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<link http: independent.academia.edu external-link-new-window external link in new>Sammenfatning: Während bei der Rekonstruktion archäologischer Schiffsfunde das Befundmaterial als Quelle zu dienen vermag, stellt sich die Rekonstruktion der Segel historischer Boote und Schiffe häufig ungleich schwieriger dar; Segel können nur äußerst selten zum Umfang archäologischer Befunde gezählt werden. Erschwerend kommt hinzu, dass sich zum Segelmachen nur relativ wenig historische Schriftquellen finden lassen, u. a. deshalb, weil das Gewerk erst relativ spät in Zünften organisiert wurde. Dass sich historische Segel dennoch rekonstruieren lassen, wird am Beispiel eines skandinavischen Bootsfundes aus dem Beginn des 17. Jahrhunderts verdeutlicht. Am Beispiel eines nur ca. acht Meter langen Lastbootes wird aufgezeigt, dass neben Details des Bootsfunds auch zeitgenössische Zeichnungen und Gemälde als Quelle zur Rekonstruktion von Form und Größe der Segel anbieten. Eine Kombination von u. a. qualitativer und quantitativer Methoden zeigt bei der Rekonstruktion der Segel ihre Anwendbarkeit. Neben der Form und Größe der Segel eines kleinen Lastbootes des 17. Jahrhunderts lässt sich zudem deren handwerkliche Herstellung rekonstruieren. Hierbei dienen die seltenen Segelfunde der 1628 in Stockholmer Fahrwassern gesunkenen Vasa

als zentrale Quelle. Neben der Fragestellung nach den Gewebeaufbau und Qualität des Segeltuches gilt ein besonderes Augenmerk dem eigentlichen Handwerksprozess und der Verwendung einzelner Werkzeuge. Aus der Binnenperspektive des Handwerkes betrachtet –  der Verfasser ist gelernter Segelmacher – gelingt es festzustellen, dass Segel aus Leinen oder Hanf im 17. Jahrhundert kaum die aerodynamischen Profile aufweisen konnten, wie wir sie heute kennen. Verdeutlicht wird zudem, dass das heutige „traditionelle“ Segelmachen in enge Verbindung mit der industrialisierten Garn- und Segeltuchproduktion gebracht werden kann. Da bei der Rekonstruktion der handwerklichen Herstellung der Segel die Handwerksausbildung und berufliche Erfahrung des Verfassers Bedeutung zukommt, dient Michael Polanyis Modell des impliziten Wissens als wissenschaftstheoretischer Unterbau der Abhandlung. Polanyis Theorie um das implizite Wissen verdeutlicht, dass handwerkliche und akademische Tätigkeit einander nicht zwangsläufig ausschließen, sondern sich durchaus gewinnbringend miteinander verbinden lassen. 

Morten Ravn, PhD


Københavns Universitet 

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<link mail window for sending>Sammenfatning: I de skandinaviske vikingetidssamfund var skibet allestedsnærværende. Både politisk, ideologisk og økonomisk havde skibet en central rolle. Militært var skibet sammen med dets bevæbnede mandskab det grundlæggende middel til at opnå taktiske og strategiske mål. Afhandlingen sandsynliggør ressourcemæssige, organisatoriske og operationelle aspekter i forbindelse med bygning og brug af skibe anvendt til krigsførelse i 1000-tallets danske rige og fremlægger ny viden om den militære organisation specifikt samt samfundets organisation generelt.      

Forskellige fartøjstyper deltog i de militære operationer og krigsflåderne havde vidt forskellige størrelser. De små krigsflåder (op til 10 fartøjer) kunne sandsynligvis bygges og vedligeholdes af en enkelt stormand eller konge, mens bygning og vedligeholdelse af de mellemstore krigsflåder (op til 60 fartøjer) har krævet en særdeles magtfuld stormand eller konge. Det er derfor mere sandsynligt, at de mellemstore krigsflåder blev etableret som sammenslutninger af små krigsflåder. Etableringen af de store krigsflåder (over 60 fartøjer) var udelukkende mulig i kraft af sammenslutninger mellem stormænd og konge. Den militære organisation i 1000-tallets danske rige var baseret på sammenslutninger af stormænd, der stillede med krigsfolk og skibe, og via datidens ideologi blev det den militære organisations ideologiske doktrin at følge sin leder (dróttinn) i et stærkt fællesskab med sine våbenbrødre (félagi og drengr). Ud over ideologi blev gavegivning anvendt til at skabe sociale relationer og troskabsbånd, og for enkelte stormænd og konger var det muligt at tilvejebringe økonomiske ressourcer via møntomveksling (renovatio monetae) samt skatter og afgifter. Mange forskellige håndværk var involveret i skibsbygningen, og viden og kunnen blev udviklet og overført til næste generation via praksisfællesskaber. Det var fortrinsvis stormænd og konger, der via klienternes praksisfællesskaber tilvejebragte både arbejdskraft og råmaterialer, men måske blev enkelte små og mellemstore plankebyggede fartøjer bygget uafhængigt af stormænd og konger. De anvendte ressourcer var nøje udvalgte, og flere var sandsynligvis manipulerede, for eksempel via afbarkning og stævning. Endvidere er det sandsynligt, at enkelte ressourcer blev reserveret til skibsbygning, og at snekkestednavnene i nogle tilfælde skal ses som et udtryk for dette. Om bord på fartøjerne har mandskab og skib indgået i et dialektisk samspil, hvor skibets design har formet besætningens organisation og kommunikation. Praksis om bord på mandskabsskibene medvirkede til at skabe en stærk og velfungerende kampenhed. Styrken i 1000-tallets skandinaviske krigsførelse var de hurtige og uventede angreb, og midlet til at føre denne taktik ud i livet var skibet og dets bevæbnede besætning.

César Enrique Giraldo Herrera, PhD

Department of Anthropology, School of Social Science

University of Aberdeen

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Sammenfatning: This thesis explores animic and perspectivist notions in the context of Nordic Seamanship with a biocultural framework. It examines the history, cosmologies, terminology, practices, physiology and phenomenology of Nordic crafts and arts of boat building, rope-making, seafaring and fishing. Rope-making, its molecular basis and the social organization in a boat reveal the way in which physical and social bodies coalesce in the harmonies of the differing intentionalities of their constituents, forming symmetric hierarchical structures, which are at the basis of Nordic egalitarian and individualistic society. Through the enskillment in seafaring and fishing, we explore the perspectival transformations involved in nausea; the development of sea-legs (the attunement to the rhythms of the sea), fishiness (empathy with the fish) and the meiths (a system navigation, perception and theorization of the coastal environment), showing the role of normal microbial biota in the perception and interactions with the environment. Based on the experience at sea, it is suggested that the ontologies developed through the interactions of seamanship constituted a cosmology that influenced the development of the Medieval Perspectivist theories in Natural Philosophy, Norse poetry and hermeneutics, which were means of secularization of pagan knowledge in the Nordic conversion to Christianity. Elaborating on some aspects of medieval perspectivist theory through their comparison with Amerindian animic theories and the biology of the eye it is suggested that its morphology entails an entoptic (inner-vision) microscopy, affording a means of visual perception and interaction with microbial entities. Finally, it is shown that animic notions about dwarves, spirits and gods are coherent with an ecological physiology that takes into account microbial sociality and their role, both in health and in disease, in our metabolism, perception and relations with the environment in particular ecological communities. In so doing, it demonstrates that animic perspectivist ontologies are compatible with a naturalism that takes into account intentionality as a generalized physical property constituent of beings and things, and therefore sociality as generalized characteristic of the interactions between beings/things in the environment.