This Saturday, November 4, the team at the Viking Ship Museum in Roskilde, Denmark, will pull the vessels ashore to shelter them for the winter. Everyone is welcome to stop by and have a look starting at 10 am, with work continuing throughout the day. 

Summer sailings, winter repairs 

The boat collection comes ashore after a summer of sailing many sea miles

The smaller Nordic clinker-built boats, especially, have been out all summer with museum visitors, school classes, scouts, and various companies and associations. 

They are fully booked for almost the entire season, from May 1 to September 30.

Despite the colder weather and shorter evenings, summer is only really over at the Viking Ship Museum when its many Viking ships and Nordic wooden boats are brought out of the water for safekeeping.

To do this, members of the volunteer boat guilds will collaborate to undertake this strenuous task. 

Each autumn, the Viking ships are carefully pulled ashore by teams of volunteers. Photo: Werner Karrasch / The Viking Ship Museum

It requires a lot of elbow grease and muscle power because the boats are traditionally brought ashore by hand, without the use of a crane, through hauling, pulling, and lifting.

The Viking Ship Museum has a large collection of reconstructed Viking ships and traditional Nordic wooden boats. Each has its own unique history and characteristics, and all are maintained and sailed by volunteer members of the museum's boat guilds. 

These guilds may comprise up to 200 members.

Although the boats are now coming ashore, there is still plenty of activity in the voluntary communities. 

During the cold winter months, the boating guilds meet for social and industry events. The boat builders, meanwhile, can inspect the ships and carry out any repairs. 

In spring, many hours are spent scraping, priming, painting, tarring, repairing, and maintaining the ships, sails, and ropes. 

This is good preparation for summer sailings in Danish waters and perhaps longer trips to more distant coasts. 

The Sea Stallion from Glendalough is a full-scale reconstruction of the Skuldelev 2, one of the largest Viking longships ever discovered. Photo: Werner Karrasch / The Viking Ship Museum

The Sea Stallion from Glendalough 

However, hauling the museum's large longship, "The Sea Stallion from Glendalough," requires special resources. 

This is a reconstruction of Skuldelev 2, whose original vessel is the second-largest Viking longship ever found. 

The Viking Ship Museum is built around the five Viking ships uncovered at the nearby Roskilde Fjord in 1962. 

The so-called Skuldelev ships were deliberately sunk just north of Roskilde in 1070 in order to block the passage of the Peberrenden waterway and defend against potential invasion. 

Each different in character and purpose, the vessels have given up a wealth of information from several points of view. 

In the case of Skuldelev 2, it was built near Dublin around 1042, with oak from Glendalough in County Wicklow, lending the ship its more dramatic name. 

The Sea Stallion from Glendalough measures 30 meters in length and is designed to sail the high seas. Photo: Werner Karrasch / The Viking Ship Museum

This ship was honed for war and built to carry many warriors at high speed. 

Its design is strong enough to carry a huge sail but light enough for a crew of 60 to row it quickly. 

The ship is a full 30 meters long, and in the Viking Age, raw muscle power was likely supplemented with horses to help bring the longships safely ashore. 

At Roskilde on Saturday, this horsepower is provided by a lorry to assist with the work.

However, it is still the cooperation and joint willpower of the approximately 100 volunteers that is the real attraction when the Sea Stallion is brought onshore. 

Location: Viking Ship Museum, Vindeboder 12, 4000 Roskilde, Denmark. 
Opening hours: Activities on Saturday, November 4, start at 10 am. The Sea Stallion from Glendalough will be hauled ashore around 1 pm. 

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