Skip to comments.VIking ship cracking up (Norway)
Posted on 02/25/2005 12:31:47 PM PST by franksolich
Viking ship cracking up
Eperts are worried about one of Norway's national treasures. Archaeologists have discovered cracks in the hull of he famed Oseberg Viking ship, which may halt plans to move the vessel to a new museum.
The archaeologists have been carefully going over the nearly 1,200-year-old ship, and are concerned about what they see, reports newspaper Aftenposten.
Removal of the vessel's top deck has revealed some exciting new details, like graffiti from the Viking age and details of the ship's rigging. But it's also exposed cracks that make archaeologists worry the ship won't tolerate any move to new quarters.
There have been plans afoot to build a new museum near the site of Oslo's first buildings east of downtown. The so-called "Middle Ages Park" already features the remains of ancient churches, albeit built after the Vikings ruled the waves.
Experts will spend the next several months trying to measure the ship's strength. Removal of the deck will allow the vessel to be scanned electronically. A 3-D drawing can then be made to help give the archaeologists an accurate basis from which to measure the vessel's structural capacity, Knut Paasche of the Vikings Ships Museum told Aftenposten.
White glove treatment
Working from cranes suspended over the Oseberg ship, conservationists have been using white gloves to carefully remove more than 100 deck parts without setting foot in the ship themselves. Their work is a far cry from that done in the 1950s, when workers went on board the vessel and even used a vacuum cleaner to remove dust.
Paasche described work during the past week as "incredibly difficult and somewhat risky." It's also been thrilling. None of those doing the work had ever seen the underside of the ship's deck.
They've seen signs of tools used on board the vessel when it was made for the burial mound of two women in the year 834. They've also found new decorations, that now will be photographed.
Viking researchers from all over Scandinavia are expected to travel to Oslo while the work is underway, to see the ship in an entirely new light.
The Vikings must not have been as good ship-builders as the English, if this boat is so fragile that vaccuuming it causes harm.
One recalls a few years the English excavated a boat from the reign of Henry VIII, where it had laid in the bottom of the water for hundreds of years, and it was still reasonably intact.
On the Aftenposten web-site (the red link above), there is also news about the possible demise of the famous luxury passenger ship, the Norway. It was never in the same class as the Cunarders Queen Mary, the Queen Elizabeth, the Queen Elizabeth II, and the current Queen Mary II, but one assumes it was still a pretty good ship.
Graffiti from the Viking age?
Not really fair. A viking longboat would be MUCH older than the reign of Henry VIII.
and just out of warranty, too, how much you wanna bet?
I think taking it out of the water speeds up the decaying process.
"Ping" for the Norway ping list.
My thanks to wizr of the Norway ping list, for sending that story about criminals turning themselves in, but alas they were Danish criminals in Denmark, not eastern Europeans trying to outwit wary Norwegian border guards.
This week, I plan to dig around and find the web-site (or even mailing address) of the Norwegian border guards, so as to send them my congratulations and admiration for the fine work they do, in protecting Norway.
Those on the Norway ping list, as usual, may expect a copy (via e-mail) of such correspondence, as in the past.
I remain mystified that one never reads stories about Norwegians smuggling beer, tobacco, and illegal substances into Denmark or Poland; it always seems the other way around.
Wonderful, law-abiding people, the Norwegians.
You are right, sir; the English ship would be only half as old, or even less than that--there was a cerebral gap while I typed the comments (sometimes the fingers type faster than the brain thinks).
So I apologetically take that part back.
Thanks for the ping. If there were women buried in the ship, they must have been greatly admired, or, er....well loved.
Don't be too hard on your ancestors. You are comparing a much older "clinker-built" galley to an early "Ship of the Line". Viking longboats were shallow draft vessels that could be sailed or rowed up narrow waterways & beached. Henry VIII was building a robust sailing vessel that was designed primarily to serve as a gun platform. 2 different animals and probably 400 years separate them.
Those scientists had BETTER be careful with that ship. :-)
You know, that news story about those two Danish criminals turning themselves in, makes me question the cerebral capacities of the Danes, otherwise wonderful people.
But of course that "web-site survey" the other day showed that Norway appears to have the fewest number of criminals in Scandinavia and northern Europe, with the exception of the diligent law-abiding Faeroese.
Not only that, but it is like comparing a DE to a BB (destroyer escort to a battleship). One light, built for speed and manuverability; the other heavy, built to take and deliver punishment.
Do the Viking Kittens need to host a fundraiser?
It's a 1200 year old wooden ship, the wood is probably rotting. The fact that it still exists at all shows they were excellent ship builders.
"The Vikings must not have been as good ship-builders as the English..."
The Vikings' legacy is huge, compared to their small populations.
In WWII the allies landed at Normandy beaches. Named Normandy after the Norwegian vikings that conquered part of France, soon before conquering England.
Near the same time, they also conquered southern Italy and part of the Holy lands. Bari, Italy was their regional capital.
Now moving west, Canada was visited by Lief Eriksson/Erikssen in 1,000. He sailed from Iceland, via Greenland to Canada. Some feel he went down the coast, even to the future Peoples' Republic of Taxxachusettes.
Now olde Lief made charts of the seas he sailed. Later, Christoffe Columbus, the Italian, sailed for Spain. He used, among other aides, the charts from the northern voyagers.
Today Norway has 4 million people.
(Another day I'll tell of Swedish Vikings' exploits.)
Actually, the Norwegian boat is about 700 years older, than that ship of Henry VIII.
<<just woke up; even messed up the headline to this posting.
What stymies me are two things--how would vaccuuming do any sort of discernible damage to such a thing, and why would a wooden boat be more likely to rot on dry land, than in the water (as one poster suggested)?
"Science" was never my strong suit.
You know why the new French Navy has glass-bottomed boats.
So they can see the old French Navy. Priceless.
Planned obsolescence no doubt.
"Viking longboats were shallow draft vessels that could be sailed or rowed up narrow waterways & beached."
A couple of those rivers would be the "Seine" and the "Volga."
The words "Rus" and "Slav" are nordic in origin, given by the Swedish Vikings that invaded and dominated Russia, for a long time.
Oh I thought this was about the football team.
I can answer that one for ya. In a word it is "oxygen". If a ship is buried in the mud, silt or sand underwater, there's almost no oxygen to feed the micro-organisms that 'eat' the wood. Raise the ship, and all those dormant organisms spring to life. I dove on wooden shipwrecks in the Great Lakes that date back to the Civil War period and they are virtually intact. The water has very low oxygen content.
Done, madam; even though the very first person on the Norway ping list was a woman, the delightful and sparkling JLO, they are a rarity here.
If one is a woman, the Norway ping list is a great place to be, being outnumbered by men seven to one.
The Norway ping list is an equal opportunity, affirmative action, ping list.
I've seen these ships. They are impressive.
Viking traders were operating in the Black Sea. The Byzantine Emperors' "Varyngian" bodyguards were probably Norsemen. Also, the Norse conquered and ruled Sicily for a time. They were operating a LONG way from home waters.
Well yeah! It's the home of the Viking Kitties. No need for police or courts. You jaywalk, and get all your hair singed off.
Thank you so much, Franksolich. Vikings can be girl types, too. ;-)
You know, Madam, the largest ethnic group here in Nebraska is the generic "Scandinavian," of which 99% are Danish, the other 1% Norwegian, Swedish, Icelandic, and Faeroese.
So both Norwegians and Swedes are a rare commodity here; but by chance, when I was a small child, I grew up in a town ten miles east of one of the two Swedish enclaves in this state (Gothenburg; the other is Stromsburg).
The Gothenburg high school band was named "the Vikings," and used the Swedish national anthem as their fight song.
As I said, I was a small child, and easily terrified; every time the cheerleaders and band marched on the football field, I had visions of England afire, men with horns growing out of their heads, fat women singing, ships resembling gravy-boats surging through the waters.
The "Viking" football team was no great shakes, though; we (Cozad) always beat them.
The vacuuming aspersion was probably archaeological. Who knows what may have been vacuumed up with the dust: nails, buttons, coins, etc.
So far as the boat degrading faster on land vs in the water, it's the relative availability of oxygen. The ship will oxidize in open air faster than underwater.
They could replace the decayed timbers. After all, if 50% of the ship remains original wood, it is still the original ship, isn't it?
It's just amazing that it exists at all.
Well, I never claimed to be the brightest bulb in the room, but I recall from high-school science classes that water is the ultimate acid, or dissolvent; that nothing can survive being eroded by water, if given enough time.
And so from that, I just assumed a boat submerged in water would deteriorate more quickly than a boat on dry land, but of course, there a multitude of other factors which I did not take into consideration.
One of the fringe benefits of being on the Norway ping list; one learns all sorts of unexpectedly different things, and in a "fun" way.
Yes, sir, we allow Swedes in on the Norway ping list, but you should be warned--the most popular news story the past month when the Norway ping list has existed, involved the story of a Swede being beaten up by a Norwegian.
That was the most-read story so far.
I saw this great old ship in the Viking Ships Museum and can't imagine why they'd want to move it. The place is wonderful, even has a nice view of the fjord. Totally appropriate resting place for this and other exhibits of Norwegian boats.
A lot of those "English" ships were built in America.
The English "boat" you refer to is the Mary Rose. It was in pretty good shape when it sank largely because it turned over and sank on its maiden voyage. So much for the English as the master builders of ships in the days of Henry VIII. They got better.
Based upon other news coming out of Norway recently--all on the Norway ping list--I am starting to suspect there might be something else afoot here; that the Poles are secretly conspiring to steal this historic object out of Norway--but of course they are never going to get past the watchful Norwegian border guards.
It makes sense, if one has been keeping up with news from the home front of Norway lately.
"Also, the Norse conquered and ruled Sicily for a time."
More than Sicily. The leader was a relative (cousin, brother?) of William the Conqueror (France, England, 1066...that thing).
Bari, Italy was their capital, and they controlled a significant amount of territory, including the Holy Lands.
Here is a link to a much older wooden boat also used in funeral proceedings:
(Buried in a pit alongside the Cheops pyramid at Giza in Egypt for 4,000+ years. Actually thee are five of them.)
Wooden boats tend to dry and crack when left out of water too long. Refloating it may do the trick.