An archeological find of what may be the largest viking ship yet discovered in Norway is attracting global attention. However, close encounters with viking culture may be experienced several places across the country.
Published: 19 October 2018
On the farm Jellestad in Halden all the way east in Norway, archeologists – with the aid of a ground-penetrating radar – recently discovered the contours of the hull of a large viking ship, along with at least eight tumuli and five houses.
“This find looks enormously exciting. There are only three well-preserved viking ships found buried in this country before, so this will definitely be of great historical significance. What we see is a 20 metres long imprint identical of that with a viking ship, and it looks like the bottom of the ship is intact”, Knut Paasche at the Cultural Heritage institute NIKU says to NRK.
The Viking Age is alive and well in 2018. The era, which lasted between approximately 800 and 1050, is named after the Norsemen’s often ruthless raids by sea across Europe at the time, but the vikings were skilled craftsmen, traders and storytellers as well. The Norwegian TV series “Norsemen” depicts the viking way of life humoristically, with great international success, while Kristofer Hivju’s character Tormund Giantsbane is largely modeled after the viking chieftain as he has been portrayed in pop culture.
The interest in this distinctive Nordic period is huge, in other words, and you may get to know it better in a variety of places in Norway – including these.
An essential place for anyone with the faintest interest in the Viking Age is the The Viking Ship Museum on the Bygdøy peninsula just outside Oslo’s city centre. Here, the three preserved viking ships found in Norway – Oseberg, Tune and Gokstad, which are also ranked among the world’s best preserved vessels from the era – is exhibited.
All three boats are examples of the vikings’ advanced shipbuilding techniques. Among them, Oseberg is best preserved. The clinker-built oak ship was found in 1903 and excavated the following year, and then restored over a period of 21 years. In addition to the three stunning ships, the museum provides a closer look at the burial gifts found in the boats, from textiles to ornamented wood carvings.
At Avaldsnes on the island Bukkøya in Rogaland, you’ll get a glimpse of authentic viking culture as it unfolded on the mainland. In this area, the first king of Norway, Harald Fairhair, had one of his seats during what many consider to be the golden age of the vikings. The Viking Farm is built in accordance with archeological findings in the county.
Even though The Viking Farm is open only during spring and summer, Nordvegen History Centre is open throughout the year. In this building, which is partly located underground, you’ll get to learn the stories of viking chieftains, saga characters and religious traditions belonging to the era.
Spectacular traces of viking life are also found further north i Norway – among them the remains of the longest discovered building from the period.
At Borg on the island Vestvågøya in Lofoten, this building has been reconstructed and now hosts the Lofotr Viking Museum. The museum exhibits objects such as imported glass, gold and ceramics – artifacts that suggest this was home to a wealthy and powerful clan back in the day.
There’s no way around Stiklestad in Trøndelag county when it comes to Norwegian viking history. The place is famous for the Battle of Stiklestad in 1030, where the Christian king Olav Tryggvason – later known as St. Olav – fell at the hands of local chieftains.
This battle, and its circumstances, are recreated every summer as an outdoor theatre event called “The St. Olav Drama”, coinciding with the the traditional celebration of Olsok. Stiklestad National Culture Centre is open the whole year, however, offering exhibitions and activities.
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