Tuesday, September 21, 2010

The Viking Ship Museum - Gokstad ship

IMG_2603  Gokstad Viking Ship

As beautiful as the ceremonial grandeur of the Oseberg was, the simple grace of the Gokstad was the ship at the Viking Ship Museum that took my breath away. Intuitively, this longship looked more seaworthy than the Oseberg. I later learned that in 1893 a full-scale replica of the Gokstad successfully completed a 44-day voyage across the Atlantic Ocean from Bergen, Norway to Chicago for the World’s Columbian Exposition. 

Image: http://www.danstopicals.com/gokstad.htm 

Ironically, the exposition was held in celebration of Christopher Columbus’ discovery of the western hemisphere in 1492. In a move that predated the term “political correctness”, in order to minimize offending the Columbian Exposition, the ship’s proposed name “Leif Ericson” was rejected in favor of “The Viking”.

Image: Wikipedia 

In 1925 a stamp commemorating the Norse-American centennial depicted the Gokstad’s replica, complete with the American flag at the bow and the Norwegian flag at the stern.

Image: danstopicals.com

* * *

Both the Oseberg and the Gokstad were built using the clinker method where the oak planks overlapped along the edges. The Gokstad is slightly bigger. 

21.58 meters (70.8 feet)
5.10 meters (16.7 feet)
23.24 meters (76.25 feet)
5.20 meters (17.1 feet)

IMG_2606  Gokstad Ship

A single piece of oak was used to ensure the structural integrity of the keel.The length of the keel then determined the dimensions of the rest of the ship. I imagine that the tallest and straightest oaks in the land would be a Viking boat builder’s greatest treasure.

IMG_2618 Gokstad Viking Ship

The invention of the keel is one of the key reasons for the Vikings maintained naval superiority for over two hundred and fifty years. A keel allowed the ship to be rowed and sailed as well. The smaller draught, along with a removable rudder, the ship had the distinct advantage of being able to navigate in shallow inland waters.

Remnants of 32 shields, alternately painted black and yellow, along with 16 oars for each side, and a striped woolen sailcloth were excavated from the buried ship. There were no benches, thus it is speculated that the oarsmen sat on their sea chests.

Model of the Gokstad ship
 Image: Wikipedia

Like the Oseberg, the Gokstad was used as a burial chamber. A 50- to 70-year-old male was uncovered with the ship along with some modest grave goods. It is believed that the valuable items were plundered long ago.

IMG_2607 Gokstad Viking Ship

The third ship at the Viking Ship Museum is a 22-meter fragment of the Tune ship.

IMG_2602 Tune Ship

The incomplete state of this ship reminds us how remarkable the nearly complete finds of the Oseberg and Gokstad were.


Anonymous said...

Looks like a really neat place to visit...my husband would be in awe of all of these viking ships...so many varieties! Thanks for sharing! :)

George said...

As I really enjoyed your previous piece on the Oseberg, I enjoyed this one on the Gakstad. Living, as I do, in a boating and boatbuilding community, I really admire the craftsmanship and genius of these old vessels . I also find the cultural history to be fascinating. Thanks.

margie said...

think of the condition as many men crammed into those tiny boats on their voyage of pillaging. fascinating.

CC said...

I think we all need to know more about Viking history. One man's "barbarians" can be another man's explorers.

Fascinating stuff, DB. Makes me want to know more.

Vagabonde said...

What an interesting post DutchBaby – I loved it – the old pictures, your pictures and the stamp. I just can’t imagine being in a ship like this for 44 days from Bergen to Chicago! Your background information was fascinating. I am sorry I miss these Viking ships while in Norway, but there was so much to see…

rochambeau said...

Dear Dutch Bebe
Thank you for teaching me more on the subject of Viking Ships as they are truly one of the most amazing boats in the world.
Recently I also learned about a Viking funeral, where the ship is sent to sea and burned. Have you heard?

Thank you for your note yesterday.
It gave me peace.
If you didn't get to listen, you can at anytime, same link.

Happy WEekend!!


Jeannette StG said...

Incredible in building skill and seaworthiness! Wonder how they transported food for 44 days...
Thanks for sharing!

Dutchbaby said...

Dear tammymcchesney,
Thank you for paying another visit to the Viking Ship Museum.

Dutchbaby said...

Dear George,
Thanks for kind words about these posts. For some reason, I became a little obsessed in reading about these ships. Perhaps I was a Viking in one of my past lives.

Dutchbaby said...

Dear margie,
Yes, this ship was definitely built for sneak attacks during war. I'm sure her large size was advantageous for carrying lots of cargo. I shudder to think of all this ship has witnessed during her seafaring career.

Dutchbaby said...

Dear CC,
I think the reputation of the Vikings' barbarian acts are well-documented, and most likely earned. That's why I was so surprised to learn about their their impressive ship-building skills.

Dutchbaby said...

Dear Vagabonde,
Yes, I'm with you. I couldn't imagine sailing on this ship for 44 days across the Atlantic Ocean. I'm sure their room service left a lot to be desired.

Dutchbaby said...

Dear Constance at rochambeau,
No, I had not heard about the Viking funeral you mentioned. Here in San Francisco, the Neptune Society provides a funeral service where they provide a boat and you can sprinkle the ashes just outside the Golden Gate.

I listened to every minute of your interview; you were fantastic!

Dutchbaby said...

Dear jeannette,
I love how you worry about the food supply on the ship. That would be my first concern too! I'm sure the sleeping accommodations were harsh too.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...
Bookmark and Share