Burned with its king – now Norway’s largest Viking ship is being rebuilt
The Myklebust ship is Norway’s largest archaeological Viking ship find. Soon, it’ll be the main attraction of a brand new Viking centre.
Published 8 March 2017
When the new Viking experience and learning centre Sagastad opens in Nordfjordeid in 2019, the Viking age will be brought to life with a faithful reconstruction of a very special vessel: the Myklebust ship, 30 metres long and 6.5 meters wide, right now the subject of intense construction activity down by the fjord.
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“This is the largest Viking ship whose remains have been excavated”, says manager Solveig Midtbø of the Sagastad foundation.
The ship sailed the fjords in Western Norway during the early Iron Age, and its remains were discovered in a large burial mound back in 1874 – the grave of king Audbjørn of the Fjords, buried around the year 870.
“Back then, ships were utilized for the burial of their owners. Several burial mounds have been discovered in Nordfjordeid, and it was in one of them that the ship was discovered.”
Although the ship was burned during the burial, its size is still possible to calculate. For instance, a total of 44 shield bosses were excavated from the grave, indicating that the ship’s sides were covered by a whopping 22 shields on both sides.
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“The size of the burial mound tells us the size of the ship, and based on the findings in the grave we learn what it looked like.”
Even though the Sagastad centre, which will itself be shaped like a burial mound, will not open until 2019, the reconstruction of the ship is already well underway.
“The ship is being built by local craftspeople from Bjørkedalen, a tiny nearby town with generations of shipbuilders. Our goal is to allow visitors to go aboard the ship, and that it should also be capable of sailing out on the fjord.”
During the construction, Sagastad is setting up multiple visitor’s days for those who want to get an up close look at the process.
“You can make an appointment or turn up at our visitor’s days to see and hear the ship being hammered together”, Midtbø says.
“We’ve been working on this for years now, it’s a dream that’s becoming a reality.”
To set up a visit at the construction hall, you can e-mail Sagastad at firstname.lastname@example.org. This summer, the hall will be open for guided tours most days. You can also track the progress of Sagastad and the Myklebust ship reconstruction via their Facebook page.
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