Saturday, June 25, 2016

Roskilde Viking Ship museum inspires the imagination

Today we were visiting Roskilde, the site of the Viking ship museum, a short train ride away. We walked through the cobblestone pedestrian streets stopping for a coffee and a piece of what looked like a cross between a nutty bread, or cake. It tasted good but was very dry. The locals in the little cafe laughed when we said it was a little dry and might taste better with some jam. In fact it was incredibly dry. We window shopped our way along the street with the intention of coming back and buying some shorts and t shirts and exploring further the book shop which had lots of English language books.

It was a beautiful walk down towards the Viking museum. We passed lovely old, ochre-colored half timbered houses before walking along a pathway through lots of wild bushes and lush green trees. Lots of people were enjoying the sunny day in the park. Finally we reached the museum. We opted not to buy tickets to go out for a sail in a small replicaViking ship as someone didn't want to do any rowing.

The museum is made up of two main sections: the Viking Ship Hall, where the vessels are kept; and the Boatyard, where archaeological work takes place. The five Viking vessels originate from a blockade approximately 20 km north of Roskilde. They were deliberately sunk in a shallow channel during the 11th-century to block enemy attacks. Roskilde was the capital of Denmark at that time.

In the boatyard the traditions and culture of the Viking Age are brought to life, especially by the building of replica boats using authentic materials and techniques. Some of these are used in sea voyages to research Viking travels. We were able to board one, loaded with bales of trade goods. There are also exhibitions of other crafts, such as rope-making.

In addition to Viking ships, the museum collection includes a large number of Scandinavian fishing boats that all have their roots in the open, slender, clinker-built Viking ships. This kinship can most clearly be seen in the boats from the Faeroe Isles, from Norway and from Sweden. Boats from Finland and the Shetland Isles also clearly show their connection to the ships of the Vikings.

In Denmark boats were also subject to influences from Southwest Europe. Larger vessels that plied international trade routes gradually became heavier in design, enabling them to carry more cargo, and developments in rigging led to smaller crews.

On site was a restaurant whose menu was based on older more traditional food. We both had an open faced gravad lax — marinated salmon — topped with dill sandwich. Delicious. It was a beautiful day for a sail in a Viking ship but sadly by the time the reluctant rower changed his mind the tickets were sold out.

We retraced our steps hoping to visit Roskilde Cathedral, where 40 members of the Danish Royal family are buried. Unfortunately, there was a wedding taking place so we couldn't see inside. By now it was very hot. We walked back through the town hoping to do some shopping but it was Saturday afternoon and the shops were closed.

Back in Copenhagen we ended our day at the cinema — it is a are treat for us to be able to see movies in English. We saw the spy thriller, Our Kind of Traitor. We could have gone to Tivoli Gardens instead, but the crowds around the entrance gates discouraged us —too many loud, shirtless men often covered in tattoos and carrying Tuborgs. A quiet evening with Ewan MacGregor was much better.

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