Last weekend, the town of Roskilde in Denmark played host to DM i Skills, a national event that promotes vocational training and is held in a different location every year. This year's version took place at the Roskilde Dyreskueplads fairground from Thursday, 18, to Saturday, 20 April.

Over the course of the weekend, thousands of apprentices and future artisans descended on the area to learn about a wide range of Scandinavian crafts. 

In a unique collaboration, the Viking Ship Museum teamed up with Roskilde Cathedral and the Handicrafts Museum to present an overview of traditional Danish craftsmanship. 

Immersive learning 

The stall set up by the three institutions was designed to showcase the heritage of the local area while also helping young craftspeople learn valuable practical skills. 

Among other things, visitors had the chance to increase their knowledge of Viking shipbuilding, cathedral construction, and various woodwork and drilling techniques. 

"DM i Skills is about the very best craftsmen, and we want to inspire young people to continue traditional crafts," Sara Peuron-Berg, who works for the cathedral foundation, commented in a statement made to the Viking Ship Museum website. 

"Roskilde Cathedral would not be Roskilde Cathedral without the craftsmen who came before us," she points out. 

The museum displayed authentic boat-making methods, inviting visitors to craft Viking ship keels with traditional axes and watch apprentice boatbuilders demonstrate ancient techniques for shaping wooden oars. Photo: The Viking Ship Museum

Viking skills in modern Denmark 

Famously, the Roskilde Ship Museum is home to the Skuldelev Viking ships excavated in an archeological dig just north of Roskilde in 1962. 

Research has since ascertained that the five boats were deliberately sunk in order to block the passage of the adjacent waterway in order to defend against invasion.

The Vikings were famed throughout Europe for their shipbuilding skills. The clinker technique, in particular, was a notable innovation that enabled Viking ships to move faster through the water. 

Naturally, at the DM i Skills event, the museum was keen to present some of the authentic boat-making methods employed during the Viking Age.

On the Thursday, visitors had the opportunity to try their hand at making keels for a Viking ship using traditional axes. 

On Friday and Saturday, Oscar Kjær la Pia, an apprentice boat builder from the Viking Ship Museum, demonstrated traditional techniques used during the Viking Age to shape and plane wooden oars for rowing. 

Through initiatives like the launch of traditional wooden boats, the Viking Ship Museum aims to engage the public and foster a deeper appreciation for traditional Nordic boatbuilding. Photo: Werner Karrasch / The Viking Ship Museum

Resounding success 

The event proved to be highly successful and the traditional skills section enjoyed a stream of fascinated visitors throughout the weekend. 

It is hoped that the experience will encourage younger people to experiment and learn more about the special skills employed in Denmark's past that have helped shape the course of its history. 

"Skillful craftsmen are absolutely essential for the Viking Ship Museum's exploration of the seafaring of the past," explains Viking Ship Museum director Tinna Damgaard Sørensenon on the museum's website. 

"The maritime craftsmanship of building and equipping the museum's ships contributes to preserving our common maritime cultural heritage and making it alive and present." 

"The traditions surrounding the Nordic, clinker-built boats are recognized by UNESCO as an intangible cultural heritage," Sørensenon continues. 

"This is why it is important for us as a museum to help train apprentice boat builders and secure these skills for the future." 

This week, the Viking Ship Museum's attention turns to the launch of four traditional wooden boats on 26 April at the Skjoldungernes Land National Park. 

From May, the boats will be freely available for public use. Much like the work for the DM i Skills event, this initiative also seeks to preserve and celebrate the cultural heritage of traditional Nordic boatbuilding and maritime activities.

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