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24.11.2020

Gokstad Ship, Oslo

The ship Gokstad is the ninth century Viking ship found in a barrow in Gokstad in SANDAR, Sandefjord, Vestfold, Norway. It is exhibited at the Viking Ship Museum in Oslo, Norway. It is the largest surviving Viking ship in Norway.

The place where the boat was found, located on arable land, has long been called Gokstadhaugen or Kongshaugen, although the relevance of its name was discounted as folklore, as well as other sites in Norway have similar names. In 1880, the sons of the owner of the farm Gokstad, hearing the legends surrounding the place, found the bow of a boat digging still frozen ground. When the discovery became known, Nikolai Nikolaisen, then president of the Society for the Conservation of Ancient Norwegian Monuments, reached the place in February 1880. After making sure that the find really belonged to an ancient artifact, he contacted the excavations to stop. Later Nikolaisen returned and found that the embankment was still 50 by 43 meters, although its height was reduced to 5 meters due to constant years of ploughing. Together with his team, he began digging up the mound from the side instead of from top to bottom, and on the second day of excavation he found the bow of the ship.

The ship Gokstad is built of clinker and mainly of oak . The ship was intended for war, trade, transportation of people and cargo. The ship is 23.80 m (78.1 ft) long and 5.10 m (16.7 ft) wide. It is the largest Viking Ship Museum in Oslo . The ship was operated by a quarter rudder attached to a large wooden block attached to the outside of the hull and supported by a very strong nerve. The block, known as the wart, is fastened with the help of willows, and the curved willow stems on the outside go through the rudder and wart to securely anchor the ship.

There are 16 narrowing boards on each side. The headset boards are located almost vertically at the point of attachment to the keel. The trim boards are narrow and remain only slightly wider so that they can replace the hold. The planks of the upper structure are getting wider and wider. Each oak board is slightly narrowed in cross-section to allow it to overlap approximately 30 mm board at the top and bottom in the usual clinker style (lapstrack). The iron rivets are about 180 mm apart if the boards are straight, and about 125 mm when the boards are rotated.

At the bow, all the boards are narrowed to the junction with the take-off. The stem is cut from a solid curved oak log that forms a watershed and there is one section for each board. The inner part of the rod is av-shaped, so the rivets may be available during construction or repair. Each bar has a notch about 25 mm wide and depth to accommodate a detachable part of the board. The sea chests have been placed on top of the decking for use during rowing. Most likely, on longer voyages, the sea chests have been fixed under deck to serve as ballast when sailing. The central part of the keel has a small oscillating lever, and together with the flat transverse part of the middel, the hull shape is suitable for swimming in medium and flat water. When sailing in strong winds and waves, course control will be poor, so it is likely that some kind of corrugation system was used to reduce the sail area.

The vessel was built to carry 32 rowers, and the oars could be hatched when the vessel was under sails. It used a square sail of approximately 110 square meters (1200 square feet), which is estimated to have driven the ship to speeds of more than 12 knots (22 km/h; 14 miles per hour). The mast could be raised and lowered. As the ship walked in shallow water, the rudder could be raised very quickly by unbinding the mast. Dendrochronological dates suggest that the ship was built of wood, which was cut down around 890 AD. This period is the peak of Scandinavian expansion in Dublin, Ireland, and York, England. The ship Gokstad was commissioned in the late 9th century during the reign of King Harald the Bright. The ship could carry a crew from forty to seventy people. The design of the ship demonstrated high seaworthiness.

During excavations, a human skeleton was found in bed inside a wooden burial chamber. The skeleton belonged to a man between forty and fifty years of age, a powerful build and height from 181 to 183 cm; his identity is unknown. Bones of twelve horses, six dogs and one peacock were found around the man's body.

In addition to the ship itself, the grave had equipment: three boats, a tent, sleds and riding equipment. Another inventory was probably looted in ancient times: excavations in 1880 did not find either gold or silver. During the Viking period, weapons were considered an important part of the human burial inventory, but again, they were not found on the Goxtad ship.

The ship, the reconstructed burial chamber, two small boats and two tent boards from the burial chamber are exhibited at the Viking Ship Museum, located on the Byugdey Peninsula in Oslo, Norway. Some other artifacts that survived the looting are also on display in the museum. After thirteen years of debate about possible relocation, Education Minister Christine Halvorsen announced on May 3, 2012 that the ship would not be moved from Bugdøy.

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