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13.11.2019

Oseberg

The Oseberg ship (Norwegian: Osebergskipet) is a well-preserved Viking ship discovered in a large burial mound at the Oseberg farm near Tønsberg in Vestfold county, Norway. This ship is commonly acknowledged to be among the finer artifacts to have survived from the Viking Era. The ship and some of its contents are displayed at the Viking Ship Museum at Bygdøy on the western side of Oslo, Norway.

The Oseberg burial mound (Norwegian: Oseberghaugen ved Slagen from the Old Norse word haugr meaning kurgan mound or barrow) contained two female human skeletons as well as a considerable quantity of grave goods. The ship's interment into its burial mound dates from AD 834, but parts of the ship date from around 800, and the ship itself is thought to be older. It was excavated by Norwegian archaeologist Haakon Shetelig and Swedish archaeologist Gabriel Gustafson in 1904–1905.

The ship is a Karve, clinker built almost entirely of oak. It is 21.58 metres (70.8 ft) long and 5.10 metres (16.7 ft) broad, with a mast of approximately 9–10 metres (30–33 ft). With a sail of c. 90 square metres (970 sq ft), the ship could achieve a speed up to 10 knots. The ship has 15 pairs of oar holes, which means that 30 people could row the ship. Other fittings include a broad steering oar, iron anchor, gangplank, and a bailer. The bow and stern of the ship are elaborately decorated with complex woodcarvings in the characteristic "gripping beast" style, also known as the Oseberg style.

During the debate on whether to move the original ship to a new proposed museum, thorough investigations were made into the possibilities of moving the ship without damaging it. During the process, very thorough photographic and laser scans of both the outside and inside of the ship were made.

In 2004, an attempt to build a copy of the Oseberg ship was launched. A collective effort of Norwegian and Danish professional builders, scientist and volunteers engaged in this new attempt with the photo scans and laser scans made available free of charge to the enthusiastic builders. During this new attempt it was discovered that, during the initial restoration of the ship, a breach in one of the beams had been made and that the ship was therefore inadvertently shortened. That fact had not been appreciated earlier. It is believed this was perhaps the prime reason why several earlier replicas sank: previous attempts at working replicas had failed owing to a lack of correct data.

In 2010, a new reconstruction was started, entitled Saga Oseberg. Using timber from Denmark and Norway and utilizing traditional building methods from the Viking age, this newest Oseberg ship was successfully completed. On the 20th of June 2012 the new ship was launched from the city of Tønsberg. The ship floated very well and in March 2014 it was taken to open seas, with Færder as its destination, under full sail. A speed of 10 knots was achieved. The construction was a success, the ship performing very well. It demonstrated that the Oseberg ship really could have sailed and was not just a burial chamber on land.

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