World’s Longest Viking Warship Goes on Display in Copenhagen This Summer

Conservators prepare the Viking ship for exhibition.

The remains of the longest Viking ship in the world will take center stage in a special exhibition at Denmark’s National Museum in Copenhagen from June 22 through November 17, 2013. The exhibition, entitled simply VIKING, is the museum’s largest exhibit about the Vikings in two decades and will touch on a variety of themes related to Viking warfare, trade, society, and beliefs.

The ship at the heart of the exhibit is 37 meters (over 121 feet) long and was exacavated from 1996 to 1997 in Roskilde. More than 25 percent of the ship remains intact and will be exhibited in a steel skeleton that will illustrate the full size of the ship.

Tree-ring analysis of the oak planks of the ship have determined that it was built in 1025 by the Oslo Fjord. The ship would have had 79 oars and carried up to 100 men. Ships were at the heart of Viking life and communication, allowing them to travel vast distances, invading England and establishing an empire around the North Sea, trading throughout Europe and deep into Asia, colonizing Iceland and Greenland, and even reaching North America. Researchers believe that this ship likely formed part of the fleet of Danish king Knud den Store (Canute the Great), who conquered England in 1016 and Norway 12 years later.

The VIKING exhibit will also include many other Viking artifacts from museums in 12 European countries, many of which have never before been on public display. Among the items will be a large hoard of gold and silver found in Yorkshire, England, as well as other treasure from Russia and Norway. Some of the world-famous 12th-century Lewis chess pieces from Scotland – shaped like Viking warriors – will also be on display, along with weapons, a helmet (one of only a few that have ever been found) and even some worn teeth from a Viking warrior. Also included is a reliquary cross discovered just a few months ago.

The aim of the exhibit is to “present a modern and varied picture of the globalised Vikings” and how they related with the outside world in both peaceful and warlike ways. VIKING is a joint effort between the National Museum of Denmark, the British Museum in London, and Berlin’s Museum of Prehistory and Early History (Museum für Vor und Frühgeschichte – Staatliche Museen), which will host the exhibit in 2014 and 2015.

National Museum of Denmark (Nationalmuseet)
Prinsens Palæ
Frederiksholms Kanal 12
1220 Copenhagen
+45 3313 4411


Credit for all photos: National Museum of Denmark

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