The glorious Viking Ship Museum (part four) – The animal heads

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Five carved animal heads were found in the Oseberg grave. Four of them are displayed at the Viking Ship Museum for the public to behold. The fifth is in very poor condition, and the remains are therefore kept in the Museum’s depository. Because none of the animal heads are alike, researchers believe that the animal heads have been made by different woodcarvers. The heads are carved out of maple wood, and two of them are adorned with silver rivets. The making of the animal heads must have been quite the challenge. The woodcarver(s) had to find a naturally curved piece of wood from the lower part of a suitable tree trunk.

We do not know for certain what the animal heads have been used for. As with many of the mysteries of the Viking Age, one can only wonder. Four of the animal heads were found in the burial chamber, and one on the forward deck. They were all found with a rattle and a piece of rope. One of the ropes passed through the mouth of one of the animal heads, like reins. There was a shaft about half a meter long at the base of the neck of each of the heads. It is possible that the heads were carried using the shafts. They might also have been mounted on walls, or perhaps even on a throne (or anything, really). But most interessting of all is the theory that they had some sort of magical or religious significance. They might have played a significant part in offerings, and maybe the burial ritual of the Oseberg Queen herself.

Sources: Museum of Cultural History, UiO
Photos: Sól Geirsdóttir

The glorious Viking Ship Museum (part three) The cart and sleighs

 oseberg77oseberg-pt3-9oseberg42oseberg-pt3-1 oseberg-pt3-2 oseberg-pt3-11oseberg-pt3-6oseberg-pt3-12oseberg-pt3-7  oseberg-pt3-10In The Oseberg Queen’s grave, there were more than 12 horses, 3 ceremonial sledges and a cart. The placement of the sledge shafts indicate that there could have been a horse on either side. The cart (1st pic of this post) was probably only used for special occasions. The back of the cart is decorated with carvings of cats – often associated with our fertility goddess Frøya. The front end shows a man being attacked by serpents, possibly portraying the tale of Gunnar in the snake pit. The sleighs are made of different types of wood and were richly carved. The placement of the sledge shafts indicate that they were pulled by two horses. We believe that the sleighs were made for pageantry and therefore, appearances were important. These carvings were enhanced by black and red paint, and tinplated nails were also part of the decoration. Unfortunately, the colours were difficult to preserve and cannot be seen today.

The best viking bling is ancient museum bling! 😉 I am always in awe when beholding the gorgeous Oseberg finds. Yass!

Sources: Uio, Museum of Cultural History & The Viking Ship Museum
Photosss: Sól Geirsdóttir

The glorious Viking Ship Museum (part two)

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Tools for textile production

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Two yarn winders for beechwood. The balls are balls of yarn;)

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Tent Frames. These objects were too fragile to be mounted in the correct position

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Tent plugs

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Authentic viking shoes. Behoooold! 

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Mystical rune inscription that possibly reads “unwise person”

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Chests, Boxes and Various Wooden Containers:

“The Oseberg grave was rich in chests, boxes and casks. The beautiful metal-bound buckets of yew-wood with gilded bronze fittings, were probably produced in England or Ireland. The Oseberg grave contained neither jewelry nor precious metals. Some of these items may have been deposited in this damaged chest and removed by the grave robbers who broke into the chamber.”

Text: The Viking Ship Museum, UiO
Photos: Sól Geirsdóttir

The Oseberg Ship

Behold part one of more posts to come about the Viking Ship Museum at Bygdøy, Norway! (Yes, I have been here several times – for previous posts click here and/or here (:
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”The oseberg ship was found in a large burial mound on the Oseberg farm, in Vestfold, and excavated  in 1904. The ship was built sometime between 815-820 AD, but was later used as a grave ship for a woman of high rank who died in 834 AD. The woman had been placed in a wooden burial chamber on the aft deck of the ship. The burial mound was constructed of layers of turf which preserved both the ship, and its rich contents of wooden objects, leather and textiles. The burial mound was plundered by grave robbers in ancient times – probably the reason why no jewellery or gold or silver objects were found in the grave. The 22 meter longs hip was built of oak. The number of oar holes indicates that the ship was rowed by a crew of 30 men. The ship had no seats, and the oarsmen probably sa ton their own wooden ship’s chests. The oars could be drawn in when the square sail was raised. The steering rudder was placed on the right aft side of the ship- the starboard side. The Oseberg ship is less solidly constructed than the Gokstad ship – only the upper two rows of side planking extend above the water line. It was probably a royal pleasure craft used for short journeys in calm waters.”

Text: The Viking Ship Museum
Photos: Sól Geirsdóttir

The Viking Ship Museum (part 2)

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Is is possible to be in love with an object? Or rather, in love with a with a ship? I believe I am. I’ve visited this museum countless times, to the point where it’ starting to get… awkward. You see, I’ve stood there in awe – glancing at The Oseberg ship in all its’ glory – my heart pounding heavily – my body trembling with admiration. And… It might just be me, but I think it is noticeable. At least by the guards (lol!) Like I’ve said before, guards “always” follow me around when I stroll through museums. The reason might be that I’m a big goofball with a huge smile. Not the average museum guest, but that one weirdo who is a bit too ‘happy go lucky’.
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This photo was taken outside the museum. Yup… I am clearly in love with the ship. Heh. 

The Oseberg Ship 

“The Oseberg ship was built in western Norway around the year 820. It is made of oak. Each of the strakes overlaps the one below and they are fixed with iron nails. Each side of the ship consists of 12 strakes, or planks. Below the waterline, they are only 2-3 cm thick, which makes the ship’s side very flexible. The two upper strakes are a little thicker. The deck is made of loose pine planks. The mast is also of pine and was between 10 and 13 metres high.

In the year 834, two prosperous women died. The Oseberg ship was pulled ashore and used as a burial ship for the two ladies. A burial chamber was dug right behind the ship’s mast. Inside, the walls were decorated with fantastic woven tapestries and the dead women lay on a raised bed. The women had a number of burial gifts with them. There were personal items such as clothes, shoes and combs, ship’s equipment, kitchen equipment, farm equipment, three ornate sledges and a working sledge, a wagon, five carved animal heads, five beds and two tents. There were fifteen horses, six dogs and two small cows. Investigation of the skeletons showed that the older woman was about 70 to 80 when she died, probably of cancer. The other woman was younger, a little over 50. We do not know what she died of.

Both of them must have held a special position in the community to have been given a grave such as this; were they political or religious leaders? Who was the most prominent person in the grave? Was one a sacrifice, to accompany the other into the kingdom of the dead? Were they related? Where did they come from? The two women from the past remain a mystery, but continued research may tell us more.”

Text:
UIO, Museum of Cultural History,
http://www.khm.uio.no/english/visit-us/viking-ship-museum/exhibitions/oseberg/

Photos: Sól Geirsdóttir – The Viking Queen

Hazel Viking Bow

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Behold my glorious Viking Bow! Custom made by Eirik Diserud
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She. Practicing archery in the norse forests. Focus face on!
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Let me let you in on a secret – I’ve learned how to make arrows!
The master of bow making taught me how to *wink*
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With linen wrapped around it, and reindeer horn on the top and bottom.
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Please notice the Sól rune. Easy to see that it is: MINE my OWN my PRECIOUS!
*grins and strolls back into the norse forests*

Do you practice archery? 

~ Sól Geirsdóttir / The Viking Queen

Museum visit part two

Here is part two of my glorious museum visit! Behold! 
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museumdoorWith every viking item I passed, each cell in my earthly body screamed “pillage with pride!” The gods know that I wanted to.. But that my friends, would be an dishonorable act. Now, If you ever find yourself in Oslo – visit Kulturhistorisk Museum and behold all the glory there is to see!

Website of the museum:
http://www.khm.uio.no/

~ Sól Geirsdóttir