The Crown Princess of Norway has laid the foundation stone for the Museum of the Viking Age, a state-of-the-art museum currently under construction in Oslo. 

Princess Mette-Marit completed the gesture in a special ceremony at the building site on the Bygdøy peninsula, west of Norway's capital. 

A royal appointment 

Princess Mette-Marit, wife of Crown Prince Haakon, the heir to the Norwegian throne, was asked to place a specially prepared time capsule in the casket structure before covering it with earth. 

The ceremony took place adjacent to the main construction site and was also attended by the Mayor of Oslo, Anne Lindboe, Oddmund Hoel, the Norwegian Minister of Research and Higher Education, and Aud V. Tønnessen, the Director of the Museum of the Viking Age. 

The event marks a symbolic step in the project to build a new museum that will eventually house three historic Norse longships and thousands of other significant artifacts from the Viking Age

"The construction of the museum is well under way – the building started in February 2023," explains Mari Parelius Wammer of the Museum of Cultural History, who also attended the event. "But laying down a foundation stone is a significant formal ceremony." 

Set to open in 2027, the Museum of the Viking Age in Oslo will feature thousands of archeological artifacts and is poised to become a premier international center for Viking studies. Photo: Hans Fredrik Asbjørnsen / Statsbygg

Looking back and to the future 

"Ceremonial markings when a new building is built have long traditions," Mari tells The Viking Herald

"In Roman times, ceremonies were held to appease the gods before becoming a fixed ritual in the Middle Ages." 

As Mari points out, today the foundation stone is not actually a stone at all, but a casket, usually containing a time capsule. 

The time capsule buried by Princess Mette-Marit contained several items: a banknote with an illustration of the Gokstad ship, a 20 Norwegian kroner coin with an illustration of the Oseberg ship, and a 20-kroner coin from 2024. 

The tradition of placing coins in the foundation stone dates back thousands of years. 

Other objects placed inside the capsule included a spatula used during the excavation of the Gjellestad ship in 2021 and 2022, a USB stick containing building plans and information about the laying of the foundation stone, an overview of the museum's research, a small photo album, and three souvenir Vikings, complete with price tags. 

A significant engineering feat, the project involves delicately moving ancient Viking ships to a new facility, using cutting-edge technology to safeguard their structural integrity. Photo: Museum of the Viking Age

"The world's most complete collection from the Viking Age" 

The Museum of the Viking Age will be completed in 2027, replacing the Viking Ship Museum, which closed in 2022. 

Laying the foundation is just one step in the project's journey. In the coming months, construction will gather speed as the main structure of the building takes shape. 

The project is hoped to elevate the museum to a leading international knowledge center for the Viking era. 

"This is a special day!" commented Museum Director Aud V. Tønnessen in her speech after Princess Mette-Marit had completed the ritual. 

"Not only for those of us standing here today but for Norway as a whole." 

"In a few years, this building will house the world's most complete collection from the Viking Age, with thousands of archeological artifacts collected from large parts of the country." 

"This is a museum for all of Norway, but not only for Norway, as we guard this cultural heritage on behalf of generations before us and generations to come – from all over the world."

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