Friday, August 04, 2006

'Sea Stallion from Glendalough'
(Havhingsten fra Glendalough')

Today, August 4th at 13.00, the world's biggest reconstruction of a viking ship, 'Sea Stallion from Glendalough' (Danish: 'Havhingsten fra Glendalough') returned to Roskilde after a four weeks' summer expedition to Norway and back home. The expedition was a test for next year's challenge, where the longship sails to Dublin. The original viking ship - by the museum named Skuldelev 2 - was built in Dublin in 1042, and in the 1060-1070s the ship sailed from Dublin to Roskilde, where it was found some years ago at the bottom of Roskilde Fjord. (See link). Considering its size and history the viking war ship from Glendalough might have played a role in the power struggle in England in the 1060s.

The building of the 30 meters long reconstruction of the viking ship has meant that some myths about the viking society had to be changed. The popular opinion that bearded vikings were sitting dead drunk and cheering for the next robber expedition holds no water. In real life the viking society had to be very well organized. Much power and riches were required in order to build, fit out and man a longship, and the ships known from the sources were all built at the king's or some magnate's command.
Large sections of people from a big area were involved in the building. It required special knowledge, able workmen and a rational production of i. e. sails and ropes. Olav Trygvasson's Saga tells that many people participated in the building of 'Ormen hin Lange.' The Viking Ship Museum in Roskilde used 27.000 effective working hours on the hull of 'Sea Stallion' alone.

' Sea Stallion from Glendalough' and the sailing project is considered a dream and a huge challenge, and it wasn't difficult to get volunteers for the crew. The summer expedition in Skagerak and Kattegat did prove how seaworthy viking ships were. The voluntary crew found out how to sail most effectively and how to cook for 65 men with only two gas rings. The viking museum reports that the 65 men kept a high spirit and learned a lot about long expeditions in open sea.

'Sea Stallion from Glendalough' will sail to Dublin in 2007. There are great expectations as to the speed of this longship. The slender, lithe ship with the long waterline is built for speed. This is a thoroughbred of the sea.

Links in English:

drawing: grethe bachmann

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