My parents visited this week, and I took a day off to spend with them. We got really unlucky with the weather, so our original plan - to take a ride in a horse-drawn carriage through Dyrehaven - fell flat and we had to look for alternatives. The Viking Ship museum in Roskilde came to mind. It’s only about a half hour’s drive from Copenhagen, or about the same time by regional train, and it’s located right by the seaside at beautiful Roskilde Fjord.
We arrived in the morning to a gloomy, foggy, and snowy scene. The weekend before had brought the first snow of the season in Denmark, and while we in Copenhagen mostly got slush, Roskilde got some 50+ cm of snow, and it hadn’t quite melted away yet.
The museum consists of multiple buildings. The main attraction, the Viking Ship Hall, can be found in a brutalist concrete block that doesn’t look like much from the outside. On the inside, the minimalist architecture and the huge window front facing the water make excellent surroundings for the five Skuldelev ships.
The permanent exhibition showcases the remainders of five original Viking ships found in Roskilde Fjord. The original wooden materials are displayed on metal frames set on beds of stone that show the size and dimensions of the ship. I think it’s a really beautiful way to showcase these elegant vessels.
The wooden remains had to be salvaged with extreme care, as they had been lying in the water and mud for about 900 years. All pieces of wood were recovered by hand (!), sealed, and then conserved with a type of resin, before they could be displayed in the museum.
The clear focus of the museum is on the ships, but there is more information to be found about the Vikings’ way of life, such as this loom, which is probably what I would’ve spent the bulk of my time on, had I lived in that day and age!
The Viking Ship museum would also make for a great day trip destination for families with kids, as there’s a special room with two mock-up Viking ships, games from Viking times, and other fun stuff. You even get to dress up as a Viking - which of course led to me donning this fancy wool and fur coat and jumping aboard the ship!
I’m a little kid!
After all this fun, we decided it was time for a little round of refreshments. The way to the café led us past the fleet of fully restored Viking ships - they were built using the same materials and specifications as the original ships, and only tools and methods from Viking ages were used. Quite impressive, if you think about it, building a wooden ship without electric saws, drills, and so on! During the summer months, you can even sail out on the boats. If you’re lucky, you can see more work being done on the vessels in the shipyard.
We warmed up in the café with some hot chocolate and a glass of Viking honey wine. Yum!
Have you visited the Viking Ship museum in Roskilde? Share your experiences in the comments below!
Vikingeskibsmuseet, Vindeboder 12, Roskilde - vikingeskibsmuseet.dk