In a recent collaboration, a group of English blacksmith students and Danish shipbuilding experts forged a recreation of the famous Ladby anchor, one of the best-preserved anchors of the Viking Age. 

The Roskilde Viking Ship Museum invited the students and their instructors from the National School of Blacksmithing in Hereford, England, to construct the anchor at the museum's shipyard in eastern Denmark. 

Forging an Anglo-Danish partnership 

At college in England, the students have been learning about experimental archeology and the reconstruction of archeological artifacts. 

Now, the young English blacksmiths have had the chance to gain practical experience by working alongside Roskilde's master craftsmen. 

During the week-long project, the group was divided into four teams, each of which was made responsible for one specific part of the process. 

Applying techniques prevalent during the Viking Age, the anchor was made from several composite parts of iron. These iron bars were then forged together with the help of hammers, fire, and bellows. 

The anchor will later be used in a recreation of the Skuldelev 5 ship

Skuldelev 5 is one of five original Viking boats found at the Skuldelev archeological site, 12 miles north of Roskilde, all of which are displayed at the museum. 

The adjacent shipyard houses a number of educational and construction projects throughout the year. 

With Helge Ask, constructed in 1991 by the Viking Ship Museum, nearing the end of its natural life after over 30 years, a new replica of Skuldelev 5 is being built to continue its legacy. Photo: Roskilde Viking Ship Museum

From heavy rocks to the stock anchor 

Viking ships, of course, were famed for their exceptional design and craftsmanship. 

They were capable of launching terrifying raids at lightning speed on unsuspecting shores yet also built to withstand long sea and ocean voyages. 

Naturally, the anchor was a vital piece of equipment that secured the boat and offered protection against wind and strong currents. 

Though some of the earliest Viking anchors are believed to have consisted of wooden frames that held heavy rocks in place, these were usually ineffective on more difficult journeys. 

Like most other European cultures, the Norse eventually adopted another design developed in the Mediterranean area – the stock anchor. 

Viking stock anchors were typically forged from iron bars welded together to form a T-shape. They were then fitted to a wooden crossbeam and connected to a chain or strong rope. 

The anchor for the new Skuldelev 5 replica is being forged by students and their instructors from the National School of Blacksmithing in Hereford, England. Photo: Roskilde Viking Ship Museum

A fine example of Viking craftsmanship 

Because no anchor was found intact at the Skuldelev site, the team at Roskilde decided to base their design on a stock anchor found in the Ladby ship burial on the island of Funen, Denmark. 

The Ladby ship is the only Viking Age ship burial found in the country to date, and the materials at the site have been dated to the beginning of the 10th century. 

Given that the Skuldelev ships are thought to have been built around 1030, their anchors likely had a comparable design. 

Just like the replica anchor developed at Roskilde, studies have shown the Ladby anchor was also likely built with the help of an international collaboration. 

Analysis has shown that while the iron used to make the anchor came from Norway, the chain was made of Swedish material and possibly forged in Denmark. 

Since the Skuldelev ships are estimated to have been constructed around 1030, it's probable that their anchors likely had a comparable design to the stock anchor found at the Ladby ship burial. Photo: Roskilde Viking Ship Museum

Much more to come 

The recreation of the Skuldelev 5 ship itself is still ongoing. 

As detailed by The Viking Herald, the experts at Roskilde are working on the construction of a new boat to replace the first replica, the Helge Ask, which was launched in 1991 and is now coming to the end of its service life. 

In addition to work on the anchor, the team at Roskilde has also been busy shaping the third strake of the boat and timbers for the flooring. The project is scheduled for completion in 2026. 

In other news, the Roskilde museum has announced that a new Children's Viking Village will open on June 17. 

Located at the Viking Ship Hall, the special kids section will feature arts and crafts activities, feasts, and adventure stories. 

The museum will also be holding a special preview event on Saturday, June 15, where children and adults alike can enjoy a first glimpse of the new attraction.

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