Where Gumbo Was #502
Gumbo was visiting the Viking Ship Museum, located at the end of a long fjord in Roskilde, Denmark. Congratulations to Professor Abe, George G and Roderick Simpson, who recognized where Gumbo was! The Amateur Emigrant took a valiant shot at it but missed the target a little.
It's not every day you get to see the remains of ships that are more than a thousand years old and this museum has five of them in varying states of preservation. These ships are a reminder of the sea-faring history of the era -- a time when Viking ships dominated the oceans and rivers of Europe. Roskilde was a very important city at that time, in part because of its sheltered fjord and access to the sea.
The museum presents the five Skuldelev ships -- ships which were deliberately sunk around 1070 AD in the Skuldelev part of the Roskilde Fjord by filling them with rocks so they would be submerged. This, along with other defensive strategies (piles of submerged rocks, wood pillions, etc) effectively blocked the main sailing channel of the fjord and prevented an enemy attack. The channel could still be navigated by local people who knew where the underwater obstacles were, but an enemy would find it almost impossible to penetrate the fjord.
(The five Viking Ships on display)
While the stereotype of a Viking ship is that of a large war ship, most of the ships that were sunk were more mundane -- fishing, trading and cargo vessels, for example, but there is also a war ship in the mix. There are multilingual informative plaques throughout the Ship Museum which are worth studying to better understand what you are seeing as well as general information about the era. The Viking Ship Museum is the nation's museum for prehistoric sea faring.
The ships were relatively well preserved because of the cold salt water, and were carefully excavated in 1962, restored, and presented in this museum, which was opened in 1969. The Ship Hall is the oldest part of the museum and offers nice panoramic views of the fjord. The Viking ships are the major attractions, with more views of them shown below. Pay attention to the craftsmanship....
The museum also has a few assorted artefacts from the era, like these walrus ivory carved chess pieces, crafted in Norway more than a thousand years ago and found in Scotland....
This gaming board is also more than a millennium in age....
Besides the Viking Ship Museum, there is also an interesting Boatyard where the traditions of Viking ship building are carried on and you can see reconstructions of Viking ships being crafted by hand. Many of these ships are small fishing and cargo vessels, but there are also some warships. The builders are easy to talk to and enjoy sharing their passion with you. Some of the ships have been taken on extended ocean voyages.
I enjoyed my visit to the Museum and recommend it to all those who are interested in the Viking era.