Several years in the planning and preparation, the project to move the world's three best-preserved Viking ships to a new purpose-built museum next door is shown in stark detail in a dramatic new video just published by the Museum of the Viking Age in Oslo.
In it, the conservator in charge, David Hauer, explains first-hand the dangers and skill involved in protecting the Gokstad, the Oseberg, and the Tune from the vibrations caused by the nearby construction. The video is in Norwegian with English subtitles.
Cased in steel
Using customized steel beams produced for offshore activity in the North Sea, Hauer and his team have cased these beautifully preserved vessels in a special frame, a vast rig weighing up to 50 tons each. Each section is constantly monitored to check for any negative effects from drilling and sound vibrations.
"The ships are very frail and have never been moved in their current state," says Hauer. "There is no relevant experience to rely on either in Norway or the world, so this safeguarding project is completely unique."
As Hauer also points out in the film clip, when the Viking Ship Museum first opened in 1926, 40,000 people a year walked around these magnificent craft to admire close up the craftsmanship of the Norse ancestors who built them.
Before the museum closed in 2022, the annual visitor figures were half a million. Without this solution, their preservation could not have been guaranteed.
Start of construction
As the Viking Herald reported recently in our exclusive interview with David Hauer, the Norwegian Minister of Research and Higher Education Ola Borten Moe, ceremonially broke the soil to instigate the construction of the new Museum of the Viking Age, due to open in 2025-26. This will involve physically moving the three ships a few hundred meters.
In the most dramatic part of the new video, Hauer's team actually moves one of the ships a short distance, delighting the conservator in charge, who exclaims, "Several years' work culminating in a few seconds!".
As the work continues, the Viking Herald will keep you up to date with all developments.
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