The Viking Ship Museum

The Viking Ship Museum (Vikingskipshuset) is located at Bygdøy in Oslo, Norway. It is part of the Museum of Cultural History of the University of Oslo, and houses archaeological finds from Tune, Gokstad (Sandefjord), Oseberg (Tønsberg) and the Borre mound cemetery.


The main attractions at the Viking Ship Museum are the Oseberg ship, Gokstad ship and Tune ship. Additionally, the Viking Age display includes sledges, beds, a horse cart, wood carving, tent components, buckets and other grave goods.[2] The museum is most famous for the completely whole Oseberg ship, excavated from the largest known ship burial in the world.


In 1913, Swedish professor Gabriel Gustafson proposed a specific building to house Viking Age finds that were discovered at the end of the 19th and the beginning of the 20th century. The Gokstad and Oseberg ships had been stored in temporary shelters at the University of Oslo. An architectural contest was held, and Arnstein Arneberg won.

The hall for the Oseberg ship was built with funding from the Parliament of Norway, and the ship was moved from the University shelters in 1926. The halls for the ships from Gokstad and Tune were completed in 1932. Building of the last hall was delayed, partly due to the Second World War, and this hall was completed in 1957. It houses most of the other finds, mostly from Oseberg.

In 2015 the Ministry let Statsbygg announce a competition for the expansion of existing facilities at Bygdøy. The winner of the architectural competition was released the 12 April 2016, and it was the Danish firm AART architects with their proposal “NAUST”.

Oseberghaugen (Burial Mound)

Oseberghaugen is a large burial mound at the Oseberg farm in Slagen. Oseberghaugen contained numerous grave goods and two female human skeletons. The ship´s interment into its burial mound dates from 834 AD, but parts of the ship date from around 800, and the ship itself is thought to be older. This ship is widely celebrated and has been called one of the finest finds to have survived the Viking Age.

The ship and some of its contents are displayed at the Viking Ship Museum. Oseberghaugen should originally have measured around 40 meters in diameter and have been over 4 meters high. It was built in the year 834 and contained one younger (50 years) and one older (about 70 years) women.

Oseberg Longship

It includes the richly decorated Viking ship, a wooden tomb, a magnificent carriage, tapestries, seven beds, four sledges, 15 horses, four dogs, one bull and a variety of other items. The Oseberg burial is one of the few sources of Viking age textiles, and the wooden cart is the only complete Viking age cart found so far. The Oseberg ship was between 14 and 19 years old when it was placed in the pile.

Dendrochronological dating of wood in the tomb indicate that the tomb is built in the year 834. 70 cubic meters of stone blocks were placed in the vessel before the mound was closed when stacking turf. Shortly after the grave was reopened. It may have been grave robbery or part of the death rituals at the time. Burglary hallway enters from the south for two to three meters wide, ten meters in length and an average depth of two meters.

The New Oseberg Ship

When the ship was taken out of the mound it was in two thousand pieces that were put together in a gigantic jigsaw puzzle. On June 17 2010, a new era began in the exciting history of the Oseberg ship. The building of an exact replica of the most beautiful and the oldest ship from Viking times began. A model was built on a scale of 1:10 and tested in the ship model tank at Marintek in Trondheim. The results are interesting: they confirm that the Oseberg ship must have been more seaworthy than assumed previously.

Nevertheless, the craftsmen have numerous questions that must be answered in order to build an exact replica of the ship, a reconstruction that in every way must resemble the original in terms of design, construction, materials, tool traces, details and the ship’s expression. After having been absent for more than 100 years, the Oseberg ship is about to return to Tønsberg – and in better shape than she has been for the last 1200 years!

The Gokstad ship

The Gokstad ship is a Viking ship found in a burial mound at Gokstad farm in Sandar. Dendrochronological dating suggests that the ship was built around 890 AD. The place where the boat was found, situated on arable land, had long been named Gokstadhaugen or Kongshaugen. Shortly after the 1880 New Year the sons of the owner of Gokstad Farm, having heard of the legends surrounding the site, uncovered the bow of a boat and its painter while digging in the still frozen ground.

The mound measured 50 metres by 43 metres, although its height had been diminished down to 5 metres by constant years of ploughing. The Gokstad ship is clinker-built, constructed largely of oak. The ship was intended for warfare, trade, transportation of people and cargo.

The ship is 23.24 metres long and 5.20 metres wide. It is the largest in the Viking Ship Museum. The ship was steered by a quarter rudder fastened to a large block of wood attached to the outside of the hull and supported by an extra stout rib. The block is known as the wart, and is fastened by osiers, knotted on the outside passed through both the rudder and wart to be firmly anchored in the ship. There are 16 tapered planks per side. The garboard planks are near vertical where they attach to the keel. The garboard planks are narrow and remain only slightly wider to take the turn of the bilge.

The topside planks are progressively wider. Each oak plank is slightly tapered in cross section to allow it to overlap about 30 mm the plank above and below in normal clinker (lapstrake) style. Iron rivets are about 180 mm apart where the planks lie straight and about 125 mm apart where the planks turn. At the bow all of the planks taper to butt the stem. The stem is carved from a single curved oak log to form the cutwater and has one land for each plank. The inside of the stem is hollowed into a v shape so the inside of the rivets can be reached during construction or repair. Each of the crossbeams has a ledge cut about 25mm wide and deep to take a removable section of decking. Sea chests were placed on top of the decking to use when rowing. Most likely on longer voyages sea chests were secured below decks to act as ballast when sailing. The centre section of the keel has little rocker and together with flat midships transverse section the hull shape is suited to medium to flat water sailing.

When sailing downwind in strong winds and waves, directional control would be poor, so it is likely that some reefing system was used to reduce sail area. In such conditions the ship would take water aboard at an alarming rate if sailed at high speed. The ship was built to carry 32 oarsmen, and the oar holes could be hatched down when the ship was under sail. It utilized a square sail of approximately 110 square metres, which, it is estimated, could propel the ship to over 12 knots. The mast could be raised and lowered. While the ship was traveling in shallow water, the rudder could be raised very quickly by undoing the fastening.

This period is the height of Norse (Viking) expansion in Dublin, Ireland and Jorvik (York), England. The Gokstad ship was commissioned during the reign of Harald Fairhair at the end of the 9th century. The ship could carry a crew of 40 men but could carry a maximum of 70.