The ship is a reconstruction of the original, 1000-year-old Skuldelev 3 ship. The festive event is also a celebration of the Nordic clinker boat traditions being included on UNESCO's list of the world's intangible cultural heritage.

With its beautiful shape and bow, which rises high above the construction site in the middle of the Museumsøen, the Skuldelev 3 ship has become a well-known sight to museum visitors. 

Since 2017, boat builders have worked every summer on the 14-meter-long ship, and many thousands of people have seen the ship take shape - both as visitors to the museum and online around the world.

But this season marks the beginning of a new chapter for the ship. With the launch on May 7, the boat builders' careful work will have to stand the test of the fjord's water and weather conditions.

The newly built ship - a reconstruction of the original, 1000-year-old cargo ship, Skuldelev 3-ship, which is exhibited in the Viking ship hall - helps provide unique, new knowledge about Viking ships in general. 

Specific knowledge can only be gained by building and sailing such ships, the Viking Ship Museum points out on its website.

Despite the fact that the construction of the new ship took five years, it is part of a much larger project that dates back to 1982. This is not the first time that the museum has built a full-scale reconstruction of the Skuldelev 3 ship.

First reconstruction

The first reconstruction of the Skuldelev 3 ship, "Roar Ege," was the very first Viking ship built at the Viking Ship Museum. The construction took place from 1982-84, and marked the beginning of a process that, over time, became the core of the museum's research efforts: the experimental archeological reconstruction of ship and boat finds.

With the launch of Roar Ege in 1984, an experiment at sea began. A voluntary boating association was formed, which, together with the museum's researchers, carried out a large number of systematic experimental voyages to gain insight into the ship's sailing characteristics. 

Like the previous reconstruction process, these tests were based on expertise from many different disciplines and specialists - including sailors, boat builders, ship engineers, and archaeologists.

The United Nations' culture agency added Nordic "clinker boats" to its list of traditions that are part of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity in December of 2021. Photo: Robert Katzki / Unsplash

The strong interdisciplinary collaborations also positioned the Viking Ship Museum as a world leader in maritime experimental archeological research. The insight gained through the test sailings of Roar Ege revolutionized the understanding of how Viking ships sailed. Previously, they were considered rather primitive and not very efficient vessels, but Roar Ege and its crew proved that Viking ships could be handled accurately and efficiently. 

Over the years, the many nautical miles Roar Ege sailed left clear traces on the ship. After 32 years on the water - and several extensive repairs - it was decided to retire the ship ashore in 2016.

May 7 launch and next steps

Skuldelev 3 will be launched on May 7 and row the same day on its maiden voyage on Roskilde Fjord. It will take some time before the ship is fully rigged and ready to hoist sails.

Once the ship is rigged up, the next phase of the archaeological experiment will begin. The new ship will undergo a series of controlled test voyages to determine the ship's sailing characteristics and examine the differences in handling the new reconstruction compared to Roar Ege.

A new, voluntary boating association will be set up to maintain and sail the ship in the coming years. And the boating association has many exciting, new experiences ahead of it, which have not previously been completed with Viking ship reconstructions. 

Among other things, the new ship will be tested with different types of cargo - everything from barrels with fish to live sheep - just as the original Skuldelev 3 ship has been used. Thus, a new and exciting chapter in the museum's exploration of Viking age ships and shipping is set to begin soon.

The launch will take place outdoors at the shipyard on Museumsøen, with free admission for visitors on May 7.

 

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