Viking boat museum bucket list item

If you love boats and anything do with boat making, then the Viking Ship Museum in Roskilde, Denmark should be on your bucket list.

Replica Viking ships built at Roskilde Museum
Bale upon bale of string made from many different natural fibres, waiting to be made into ropes of all descriptions. It smelled amazing!
Jonathan was in heaven.

The museum not only has a permanent exhibition of five original Viking ships excavated from the depths of Roskilde Fjord but also has master craftsmen that you can watch building replica Viking ships using ancient skills kept alive in far flung places such as the Faroe Islands.

Watching one of the boat builders at work.

Watching them work was fascinating and reminded us of watching boat builders in Indonesia building beautiful vessels with similar hand tools and skills developed over many generations.

A master boat builder from the Faroe Islands has been employed to pass his skills on to younger craftsmen
Just a few of the hand tools used by the boat builders

Every summer, a handful of the replica boats are launched at Roskilde for extended sea voyages to accumulate more knowledge about the seafaring techniques and conditions of the Vikings.

One of the workshops at Roskllde
You can get up close to the replica boats
There were many interested visitors

The five Viking ships on display in the museum were deliberately sunk around 1070 to protect Roskilde from enemy attack by blocking the most important sea route into the port.

Visitors can pay to have a sail in a replica Viking boat
It was incredible how quickly they learned to row in unison

When recovering the ships it was discovered that they were all of a different type, ranging from cargo ships to ships of war.

We really enjoyed the informative commentary given by our guide as we walked around the exhibition and we learnt a lot!

The commentary was very interesting and we learnt some interesting facts

For example, I’m sure other people know this already but I found out for the first time where the expression “starboard” came from. It was originally “steerboard” and comes from the steering blade that was fitted on the right hand side of the vessel.

We also learnt that all the planks were split rather than sawn although they had the technology to use pit saws. Being split meant the planks were more flexible and enabled the vessels to flex and bend in rough weather. It also meant the the craftsmen could make these amazing boats with wonderful lines.

A model of one of the Viking boats demonstrates the “steer board”
This replica sailed all the way to Dublin in Ireland and all the way back again.

The first of the five excavated vessels we saw was a sea going cargo boat made out of pine but repaired with oak and Linden wood that carried a crew of around seven. A reconstruction of this boat took 20,000 man hours (i.e. one man seven years of work) to complete.

This was a sea-going cargo boat

Next there was an oak sea going warship that carried a lot of men (possibly up to 80) but had little room for supplies. This one was made from recycled timber from even older ships. Tests show that the boat was made in Dublin, Ireland and a replica built at Roskilde was sailed to Dublin in 2007 and a year later it returned again to Roskilde.

This one was a warship. The replica of this boat was sailed to Dublin
The replica ship that was sailed to Dublin

The third ship was an ocean going cargo ship made from Norwegian pine which had two decks but no cabin. It could carry 25 tons of goods such as walrus tusks, pelts, ropes etc.

The remains of an 11th Century cargo boat

The archeologists think the fourth vessel was a fishing boat and the fifth which is described as “the Crown Jewel” of the boats, has been identified as a warship which was capable of carrying 100 oarsmen and sailing at 15 knots under sail.

The “Crown Jewel” of the excavated boats

We spent many happy hours at the museum and I think we both would have spent days there if other places hadn’t been calling our names.

Before visiting Roskilde we had travelled from Helsingør to a beautiful spot in some woods not far from the Klampenborg deer park, where we stayed the night.

The light was beautiful in our wooded campsite

The following day we spent some time cycling through the park (its proper name is Jægersborg Dyrehave) where we admired the many ancient oak trees and spotted lots of fallow and red deer.

There were loads of deer in the Klampenborg deer park deer park

And there were many ancient oak trees

There was also a hunting lodge (the Hermitage) built in 1734 for Christian VI of Denmark in order to host royal banquets during royal hunts in Dyrehaven.

The 18th Century hunting lodge

Before leaving this beautiful park we had a great lunch at a restaurant in the historic Peter Lieps Hus.

Lunch at Peter Lieps Hus.

Horse drawn carriages driving past as we ate lunch

After eating we drove onto Copenhagen which looked lovely and very interesting. Unfortunately, the camper van site that we had picked out to stay in had vanished and was now a building site so we were forced to continue on to a small site in Dragor on the island of Amager only 12 kilometres from Copenhagen.

Copenhagen looked lovely but we didn’t see enough of the city

This is where our campsite was meant to be!
It looked like a building site

Before heading for Roskilde we wandered through the old part of Dragor – a compact, picturesque maze of alleys with yellow-painted houses, red roofs, and cobblestone streets built in the traditional Danish style. Many of these buildings were hundreds of years old.

Dragor was filled with quaint yellow painted cottages
Great to see traditional thatching being undertaken in Dragor

It was fascinating to see one of the houses being rethatched and we were very happy to see these traditional crafts, as well as the ancient boat building skills at Roskilde, being kept alive.

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Salty tales from Bali Hai

In 2015, after a break from cruising of almost 30 years, my husband and I sailed off into the sunset - this time to the wonderful Islands of Indonesia and beyond. Three years passed and we swapped sails for wheels driving through Scandinavia and Europe in a motor home. Now we are on the brink of another adventure - buying a Lagoon 420 Catamaran in Athens. This is our story.

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