THE MYKLEBUST SHIP

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About the Myklebust Ship

The Myklebust ship is the largest Viking ship that has been found traces of in Norway.

The history

The young archaeologist Anders Lorange came to Nordfjordeid to excavate the large burial mound, locally called “Rundehogjen”. The mound is located on the Myklebust farm that has been the location for several other burial mounds. However, this particular mound proved to be special.

The burial mound was about 30 meter in diameter, almost 4 meters tall and had a broad moat. The mound contained the remains of an amazing viking ship and a number of high-status objects from the end of the 9th century. The lavish contents of the burial mound and the traces of the mystical rituals performed during the burial ceremony, provides a fascinating insight into the way of life and the worldview in the Norse society living in Nordfjordeid for over one thousand years ago.

The ship in the burial mound was named the Myklebust ship, after the name of the farm. Sadly, the ship was overshadowed by the Gokstad ship (found in 1880) and the Oseberg ship (found in 1904). The reason being that the Gokstad ship and the Oseberg ship were found intact, as opposed to the Myklebust ship who was burnt in the burial ceremony. It was therefore not much to see of the Myklebust ship. However, the burial mound contained traces of the proud past of the ship and of the buried person. This past deserves to be shed some light on.

The size of the ship is known based of different findings: the first is the number of klinker nails (750), and the size of these. The size varied according to the placement on the ship and the length tells us how thick the planks would have been. The second is the large amount of ashes in the mound. The layer of ashes reached to the edges of the mound and in the middle it laid in a double layer. The third is the number of shield bosses. In total there were found 44 shield bosses, and it is believed to represent the crew of the ship. Each shield would have been places alongside the railing of the ship, and this gives us an indication of the length of the ship. Based on these aspects, the estimated length of the ship is 30 meters (100 ft.). This is an enormous size, and it is larger than both the Oseberg ship and the Gokstad ship.

In the Viking Age there were many ways to bury a person, but to be buried in a ship grave covered by a mound was a custom reserved for the powerful and wealthy. The objects found in the grave confirm this. The dead had with him a full set of weapons, jewelry, gaming pieces and the most spectacular were a Celtic bronze bowl, which contained the burnt human bones. All of this indicates that the buried person was a rich man, that was a central figure in the society – probably a viking king. The Myklebust ship is therefore the ship of a king, a ship worthy of the last voyage to Valhalla.

The autumn of 2016, new Viking history was again written in Nordfjordeid and Bjørkedalen. After planning since the early 90’s, the plans for a Center that will showcase the findings and the history of the Viking Age in Nordfjordeid, is beginning to become reality. Skilled and experienced boatbuilders from Bjørkedalen started the work on reconstructing the Myklebust ship the way we believe it could have looked like over a 1000 years ago . Bjørkedalen is a place that holds long and strong traditions in boat building – traditions that can be traced back to the Viking Age. Access to good materials in their forest have resulted in a high number of boatyards in Bjørkedalen, and to this day they are still building Viking ships and other wooden boats. The boatbuilders with their ongoing tradition is therefore a vital part in making the Myklebust ship a reality.

From a Viking Age society that left traces of a mighty ship, to a re-built seaworthy ship which you can explore with all your senses. The King’s ship is re-born , and will be the crown jewel in Sagastad Knowledge Center.

Visit Sagastad to experience the amazing story of the Myklebust ship!

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