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All at Sea with the Vikings

sunny 18 °C

Norway is a land of myths and legends, it is also the home of some of the greatest adventurers and explorers the world has ever known. This is a Viking longboat that was built more than 1200 years ago...
The Oseberg took 32 Norse oarsmen to row, although it could be sailed in the right conditions. and it was more than 90% complete, though flattened, when it was discovered underground nearly a century ago. The woodwork and ornamentation is in amazingly good condition especially as the entire ship was used as a burial sarcophagus for two, (presumably aristocratic), women...
The Norsemen or Vikings, as they were later known, populated many countries during the Middle Ages and had colonies as far away as Newfoundland, the Black Sea and the Mediterranean. There were two Norse kings of England and the Normans were actually Norse descendants. (Who knew?). Some other things we discovered at the Viking Ship Museum in Oslo is that Vikings didn't wear horned helmets and they didn't push their dead out to sea on burning boats: they buried important people in their boats, together with their dogs, horses, carriages and all manner of grave goods for the afterlife. Several of these perfectly preserved burial boats from the 9th century have been excavated. This is the largest – an ocean going vessel called the Gokstad...
In addition to the perfectly preserved Viking longships, Oslo is also home to a number of other historic vessels including the Fram...
The Fram is a ship that was built to withstand the crushing weight of Arctic ice, and more than a hundred years ago it took Norwegian explorer Fridjof Nansens closer to the North Pole than any man previously. However, the Fram is best remembered for its role in taking Roald Amundsen and his team to Antarctica where, in December of 1911, he became the first man to reach the South Pole - a feat equivalent to being the first man on the moon at the time. It was thrilling to visit this iconic ship and to be able to walk around the decks and cabins in the footsteps of Amundsen.
His original nameplate is still above his cabin door...
The Norwegian Amundsen had beaten the ill-fated Englishman, Capt. R.F.Scott, to the South Pole by just a few weeks, but this wasn't his first accomplishment. Between 1903 and 1906 Roald Amundsen and a crew of just six were the first to circumnavigate the Arctic by way of the fabled Northwest Passage in this ship – the Gjoa...
It was also thrilling to visit the museum dedicated to one of James' boyhood heroes, Norwegian explorer Thor Heyerdhal. Heyerdhal suffered hydrophobia following a near drowning as a child, yet he led an ocean-going expedition to prove that the original inhabitants of Polynesia had arrived on bamboo rafts after fleeing persecution by the Incas in south America. Who has not heard of the Kon- Tiki expedition? Well – here is the actual bamboo raft that Heyerdhal and five crew sailed seven thousand kilometres across the open Pacific from Peru to Polynesia...
This remarkable, though possibly foolhardy, voyage began on April 27th 1947,and lasted 101 days. Heyedhal became a hero who went on to build more rafts of papyrus and reeds to show how ancient peoples navigated the world. This is Ra – a papyrus raft that almost crossed the North Atlantic, and nearly killed him and his crew...
Heyerdhal never gave up his determined quest to prove his generally unaccepted theories of world migration. He could have been right but, in the end, DNA has conclusively proved him wrong – the Polynesians came from Asia.
Tomorrow – more fascinating facts and interesting sights from Norway's delightful capital.

Posted by Hawkson 10:11 Archived in Norway

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Spectacular posting Jim and Sheila. What powerful images. I would be gob smacked visiting these magnificent vessels and hearing their history. So amazing.

by Sue Fitzwilson

Amazing courage to sail the world in a row boat.

by Janet

Fascinating! Amazing that those flimsy looking things could survive ocean storms. And that beautiful long boat? How could it possibly avoid getting swamped by big waves? (32 frantically bailing seamen, I suppose).

by R and B

I’m extremely disappointed to hear that the burning boat Viking funerals are a myth but the boat burials are a lot better for the world of archaeology!

by Heather

An interesting bit of Norwegian History!

by Keith and Helen

Good history lessons, amigos. We are enjoying a week of autumn warmth - hurrah!

by Joyce

What an amazing collection. Thank you.

by Diane Cornish

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