Souvenirs from Norway
The Scandinavian Viking legacy has shaped Norway’s past and present as much as its landscape of fjords and cold waters. The mysterious heritage of the Vikings is a fascinating journey throughout a culture of sea, war and exquisite craft ship. Three of the magnificent Viking ships still preserved today are proudly displayed in Norway’s Oslo Viking Ship Museum and are representative for the rich Viking culture of ship builders and sailors which still holds its mysteries. Their superb details and carved decorations are a reminder of a mythical time of Northern legends, sea gods and adventures. Visitors can marvel at these splendid examples of Viking masterpieces: a resin fridge magnet is now available online as a lovely souvenir.
The Oseberg Viking Ship, a Scandinavian Masterpiece
The most splendid Viking ship to be exhibited in Norway is undoubtedly the Oseberg ship. Scientists believe it dates back to the 9th century AD and view it as one of Scandinavia’s best preserved and sophisticatedly decorated symbols of the Viking era. The identity of the two female bodies discovered on the ship is still debated and they might represent a member of the Viking aristocracy and her slave. The ship is a 22-meter long structure with 15 pairs of oars and a burial place of great complexity. Its building was designed to cope with the fjords waters and its astonishing carvings are a proof of the ship building mastery: a unique system joins planks together and nailing ribs add strength to the spine of the ship. Unfortunately most of the burial items on the ship were stolen with few textiles and wooden carvings to survive. Three royal burial beds, two tents, a two horse cart and four sleds were preserved as well suggesting a clever transportation system during the harsh winter months.
The Viking Ships, Symbols of a Glorious Past
Among Norway’s famous Viking ships are also the Gokstad and Tune ships displayed in the Viking Ship Museum in Norway’s Oslo. The Gokstad Viking ship is a large structure carrying up to 70 people in its glory days. It was also used as a burial and kept the remains of an old man up until its modern discovery. Its fame was brought along when its replica sailed across the Atlantic Ocean to the Chicago’s World Fair at the end of the 19th century. Whereas the Gokstad ship is as well preserved as the Oseberg one, its burial treasures have been repeatedly robbed by grave thieves. Gold and silver items including Viking weapons were removed still the ship’s size and strength make it an impressive Museum hit. The Tune Viking ship from the same period used to be an impressive ship even if only half of it survived.
Modern Challenges of the Viking Ships
The existing Viking ships in Norway have been a controversial topic ever since their discovery. In 2006 the University of Oslo suggested the moving of the ships to the new built Museum of Bjørvika but concerns about the constructions’ fragile nature started a massive media and academic campaign to keep the ships at their initial location despite dangers of fire and over crowdedness. At the beginning of the 20th century, there were constant attempts to find the best location for Norway’s precious Viking ships. The Gokstad and Oseberg ships have been temporarily housed by the University of Oslo up until special halls were built inside the Museum to host the magnificent treasures and most burial findings. The biggest challenge for nowadays scientists is to stop the deterioration of the ships as the preservation substances used by the first researchers are affecting the quality of their old wood.