Thursday, August 7, 2014

If this is Thursday it must be postcards, 154

 Osberg Viking ship built ca 800-820 AD

The photograph on the postcard above showing the Osberg ship being transported through the streets of Oslo, Norway was taken in 1926.  This ship was a burial ship and one of three ships on display at the Viking Ship Museum in Bygdøy a short boat ride from the Oslo harbor.  The Norwegian Haakon Shetelig and the Swedish Gabriel Gustafson, archeologists, excavated the ship in 1904-1905 from a burial mound at the Osberg farm near Tønsberg in Vestfold.  At that time they also found numerous other grave goods plus two female skeletons that had been laid out in a bed, the skeletons of 14 horses, 3 dogs and an ox.  It is thought that one of the women might be Queen Åsa of the Yngling clan, mother of Halfdan the Black and grandmother of Harald Fairhair and the younger woman perhaps a maid servant or daughter. 

Parts of the ship date from around 800-820 but the grave itself has been dated 834.  Built almost entirely of oak it measures approximately 71 feet long (21.58 meters) and 16 feet wide (5.10 meters).  Thirty people rowed the ship placed in two lines of 15 oars each.  The design of this ship suggests that it was used for coastal voyages rather than ocean travel. 

The postcard below shows a photo taken in 1904 with some of the fine carved detail work on the ship. 

Detail of carving on the Osberg ship

Another ship at the Viking Museum is the Gokstad.  It was discovered in a burial mound at Gokstad farm in Sandar, Sandefjord, Vestfold and has been dated to approximately 890.  There had been legends about the hill called Gokstadhaugen or Kongshaugen (kings mound) on the farm where it was discovered. In 1880 the farmer living there started digging around in the frozen earth to see what might be under the ground.  When he uncovered the bow of a boat the word got out and the Society for Preservation of Ancient Norwegian Monuments stopped the exploration until a team could officially excavate.  The farmer had started digging down from the top the team led by Nicolay Nicolaysen began from the side finding the ship after only two days. 

Gokstad ship built ca 890 AD

Unlike the Osberg ship this one was used for warfare, trade, transportation of people and cargo and the design is shown to be seaworthy (ocean going).  It is made primarily of oak is 76.2 feet long (23.24 meters) and 17.1 feet wide (5.20 meters).  It had a crew of 40 including 32 oarsmen but could hold as many as 70 people.   It was also used as a burial ship and contained a male skeleton inside a timber-built chamber.  It is not known for sure who the man was but some think it might be a petty king, Olaf Geirstad-Alf from Vestfold.  He was also from the House of Yngling and died about the correct time for this to be so.  There were some graves goods as well that are on display at the museum; however, it is believed that the mound had been plundered in ancient times as expected valuables made of gold and silver had been removed.  Weapons important during this time were also missing so it is supposed that grave robbers probably took them too.  

Tune ship built ca 900 AD

The third ship seen above is called the Tune ship and was built around 900.  It is not in as good condition as the other two.  It measures 72 feet long and 14.3 feet wide. with 11 or 12 pairs of oars.  This ship was a fast ocean going vessel.  It was found in a boat burial mound at Haugen farm in Rolsvøy in Tune, Østfold and excavated by the archeologist Oluf Rygh in 1867.   All three ships used sails in addition to oars.

We had just one day in Oslo so we knew it would only be possible to see a limited numbered of things.  Since both the Folk Museum and the Viking Ship Museum, which we wanted very much to visit, were located on Bygdøy and the trip over to the island would also give us a nice sightseeing boat ride that made the decision easy.  If we had more time when we returned we could chose something else closer to our hotel. 

Here below are a few pictures from our visit to the Viking Ship Museum.  When I visited here in the 1980s it was forbidden to take flash pictures.  Now with the newer digital cameras that do not need so much light it is possible to get good pictures even without flash.

The three photos above are of the Osberg ship. 

Gokstad ship

One of three elaborate sleds found with the Osberg ship

Animal-head post

Above are two other artifacts found at the same time.  The sled has intricate carvings, as does the animal-head on the ornamental post.

These two smaller boats, lifeboats or tenders, are from the Gokstad grave.  A portion of the wooden burial chamber is at the left side. 

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