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The Vikings are back thanks to some amazing new technology. Participate in a rousing Viking show at The Viking Planet in Oslo and experience the dramatic Battle of Hafrsfjord at Viking House in Stavanger.
Imagine that you are sitting in a longship, surrounded by tense Vikings. The ship is shaking vigorously. Out of nowhere, a whale appears on the surface, but the Vikings don’t seem to care at all. Suddenly, an arrow strikes your oar mate, and he rolls over – dead.
The Viking Planet, a newly opened entertainment centre in Oslo, uses groundbreaking VR technology, 4D chairs, and cinematic sound to place you in the middle of the twelve-minute film The Ambush, directed by Erik Gustavson. You might feel a desperate urge to grab something to brandish when you see attacking Viking warriors wherever you turn your head (through your VR headset).
In order to offer new ways of experiencing the Viking Period, the centre has also introduced other digital tools, including a 270-degree cinema, interactive screens, and holograms.
Historian Kim Hjardar was responsible for ensuring that all the details in the films are historically accurate, from clothing and buildings to the food, and, not least, the hairstyles. And yes, they might seem somehow familiar.
“The hipster look, with long, full beards and close-cropped necklines, is taken straight out of the Viking Period. Bowl cuts and middle partings were also popular a thousand years ago,” says Hjardar.
He also denies the persistent myth that Vikings had horns on their helments.
Globally, interest in Vikings and the Viking Period has exploded in recent years, thanks in large part to TV series like “Vikings” and the Norwegian series “Norsemen”. But, according to Kim Hjardar, new generations are continually growing fascinated by the Vikings.
“The Viking Period has been part of the popular culture since Wagner’s Die Walküre was first performed in the mid-1800s,” he says.
It’s not only in Oslo that the Vikings have returned from the dead. In Viking House in Stavanger, you can put on a VR headset, board a virtual Viking ship and relive the Battle of Hafrsfjord, a naval battle fought in the Hafrsfjord in 872, which resulted in the unification of Norway.
“With new VR technology, the story of Viking King Harald Fairhair’s path to victory comes alive in a whole new way,” enthuses Tine Murphy, general manager of Viking House.
You can also see replicas of beautiful original Viking ships, like the 30-metre long Myklebust ship at Sagastad in Nordfjordeid. The modern visitor centre also offers VR experiences, where you can visit a virtual Viking village and discover mysterious Norse rituals and mythology.
Avaldsnes, outside Haugesund, is one of Norway’s most important historical areas. Here, the first king of Norway, Harald Fairhair, had one of his seats during what many consider to be the golden age of the Vikings. If you visit, make sure to download the new "Time Travel" app that takes you on a historic virtual tour with a theatrical touch.
The Vikings were craftspeople, farmers, seafarers, merchants, and warriors from the Nordic countries. They lived during what is known as the Viking Era, which lasted from approximately 800 CE to 1050 CE. Vikings embarked on expeditions to other parts of Europe and beyond to trade and form new settlements, but also to conquer and plunder.
The Brits were fascinated by the Vikings’ style and copied both their hairstyles and their clothes.
Many Vikings had tattoos, and they also made furrows in their teeth, which they probably filled with dye.
The Vikings loved beautiful jewellery, which they often used as gifts. The gift exchange system tied the Viking community together – the chieftains distributed the gifts down the hierarchy to buy loyalty.
Hospitality was important for the Vikings, and when they had guests, they replaced the everyday sour milk with the party drink mead.
Source: Viking historian Kim Hjardar
Visit historical sites, embark on a sea voyage aboard a Viking ship, or go all out and be a Viking for a day!
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