Visit Vikingskipshuset for a face to face experience with some of the world’s greatest Viking treasures! The best preserved Viking ships in the world and unique burial artifacts from boat graves around Oslo Fjords. These ships have been on voyages of the sea before they became the final resting place to their wealthy owners.
Incredible woodcarvings, mysterious skeleton remains and Viking era mood; definitely out of the ordinary!
The Ship Graves
The Viking Ship Museum houses four Viking ship burials from Oslo Fjord area: those found in Oseberg, Gokstad, Tune and Borre. All four were excavated between 1852 and 1904. Three of the graves contained ships that have survived to this day, the Oseberg ship was built AD 820, the Gokstad ship shortly before AD 900 and the Tune ship AD 910.
The three ships had been at sea for several years before they were pulled ashore and used as burial ships. The dead were placed in burial chambers built on board the ships. They were buried with generous supplies of food and drink, various animals and a large number of objects
The Oseberg ship was used as grave ship for two women, while Gokstad and Tune servedas grave ships for men. Most of the objects in Oseberg and Gokstad graves were well preserved because the ships had been buried in moist ground and covered with clay and turf. Both Oseberg and Gokstad had been looted in the Viking Age; no jewelry or weapons were found.
The Discovery of the Oseberg Ship
The Oseberg ship burial was discovered in the autumn of 1903 on the Lille Oseberg farm in Vestfold county. The following summer excavations were carried out, led by professor of archeology Gabriel Gustafson. While the excavation itself took five months, it would take 21 years to complete the conservation and restoration of the ship and its grave finds.
The ship was complete but crushed when it was found, The many pieces had to be slowly dried before being pieced back together. The Vikingskipshuset consists of over 90% of the original wood.
Two Wealthy Women
When excavating the Oseberg Ship in 1904, the archeologist found the remains of two women. One of them could have been in her fifties when she died, the other around 70-80 years. But who is the main person in the grave?
The Oseberg mound with its rich array of grave goods indicates that one or both of them played an important political – and perhaps also religious – role. Their kin and community used the ship grave and the burial ritual and to mark the importance of the women. Is it possible that one of the women was sacrificed to accompany the other to the grave?
Both women were approximately 153 cm tall. The younger woman had healthy teeth with little sign of wear, indicating that she had enjoyed a good diet. Throughout her life she had used a metal toothpick to clean her teeth. A broken collar bone shows that was injured some weeks before her death, but the skeletal remains do not reveal the cause of her death.
The skeleton of the older women shows signs that she had been seriously ill during childhood. In old age, she suffered from osteoporosis, a lumbar fracture, two fused neck vertebrae and a knee injury, which most likely had made her stoop and walk with a limp. The woman suffered from advanced cancer, and had probably been in great pain in her final years.
The Oseberg mound with its rich array of grave goods indicates that one or both of them played an important political – and perhaps also religious – role