The Viking Museum at Roskilde

IMG_0915Just a short day trip from Copenhagen is a place that was a must-see for my seafaring husband, and I have to admit, I was pretty excited to go there as well. That place was the Viking Museum (or Vikingeskibs Museet) in Roskilde, Denmark, which houses five original sailing vessels from the 11th century.

If you think of what that means,  these boats, which were dug up in the fjord near Roskilde in 1962, were used, touched, and sailed by the actual Vikings!! So grab your Viking spangenhelm (helmet) and come along with us!

Mike rocking a spangenhelm. (photo by Carolyn Stewart)

As you enter the parking lot for the museum, you notice the museum itself is not just one building but a group of buildings complete with an area near the harbor which is lined with many different types of Scandinavian sailing vessels, both large and small. The buildings house workshops where students are able to learn how to do various types of shipbuilding, woodworking and sailing related crafts like rope-making and sail-making.

On the day we visited, we saw a group of college-age students doing woodworking with traditional tools from the Viking period. In the indoor workshop, the students worked to plane a rudder scraping and sanding it with primitive tools.  All of the work done on the grounds is done with period tools including the felling of trees, splitting of the wood and actually constructing the boats.

It was freezing outside because we were there on a rather cold March day, so there were not many people visiting the museum, but I’m sure in the warmer months the place must be bustling with action. But in true Viking style, Mike, Carolyn and I braved the cold weather, donned our Viking garb and set forth to see the sailing vessels.

Mike knows it’s serious business being a Viking, but I’m just happy to be along for the ride. (photo by Carolyn Stewart)

The main reason for our visit were the actual longships and sailing vessels that were inside the large Viking Ship Hall.  These five vessels were actually sunk on purpose a thousand years ago in order to make a defense barrier in the fjord as an underwater obstacle to thwart invaders.

This ship was found in 1962 and was pieced together after the restoration process was complete. In the background, Mike admires the actual prow of the sailing vessel.

It’s truly incredible to come so close to a piece of history and to imagine the men who built the vessel and sailed it.  Thinking of what their lives must have been like, the harsh conditions they faced, their pagan beliefs and perseverance really makes you wonder how you would have survived in such an environment.


Learning about the excavation process for the ships was just as interesting as seeing the ships themselves. The archeologists had to rope off an area of the fjord and drain it to begin mapping out the wreck site. The thick planks of wood which make up the vessels had been underwater for so long that they had to devise a way to keep the wood from shrinking and disintegrating when they took it out of the water. The wood had to be kept moist as it was dug up, and then placed in a chemical solution for a long period of time until the wood was preserved enough for it to be freeze-dried.

A close up of the thousand year old planks that make up the Viking vessels.

While the museum collection is based on these five Viking ships that were excavated at Skuldelev in Roskilde Fjord in 1962, it also has a working boatyard where it has made replicas of the five ships and other Scandinavian longships. In the summertime, visitors are able to take cruises on a longship and help row it across the fjord and set the sails.

IMG_0915“From the museum’s own harbour, you can cruise around the beautiful Roskilde fjord and admire the museum’s large collection of traditional Nordic boats,” according to the Visit Copenhagen website.

It is incredible that the remains of these ships have survived so many years.  I highly recommend a visit here if you find yourself in the Copenhagen area.  It is an easy day trip as it’s only 1/2 hour away from the city, and you can also visit the Roskilde Cathedral while you are there, which is another fascinating destination full of history that is worth the trip to Roskilde alone.

Carolyn tips her pink cap as she steers the Viking vessel away from the Vikingeskibbit Museet.




5 thoughts on “The Viking Museum at Roskilde

  1. vickienallazaro

    Thank you both for sharing…. we are receiving e-mails and the pictures also.  We miss you all so much.                                                                                                                                                                   Lots of love, Mom and Al                          

    From: Wandering Off Somewhere… To: Sent: Wednesday, April 11, 2018 6:56 AM Subject: [New post] The Viking Museum at Roskilde #yiv8593728309 a:hover {color:red;}#yiv8593728309 a {text-decoration:none;color:#0088cc;}#yiv8593728309 a.yiv8593728309primaryactionlink:link, #yiv8593728309 a.yiv8593728309primaryactionlink:visited {background-color:#2585B2;color:#fff;}#yiv8593728309 a.yiv8593728309primaryactionlink:hover, #yiv8593728309 a.yiv8593728309primaryactionlink:active {background-color:#11729E;color:#fff;}#yiv8593728309 | Cindy Gelpi posted: “Just a short day trip from Copenhagen is a place that was a must-see for my seafaring husband, and I have to admit, I was pretty excited to go there as well. That place was the Viking Museum (or Vikingeskibs Museet) in Roskilde, Denmark, which houses five” | |

  2. Wow, I love that kind of connection to history. Imagining the people who built, worked and touched those ships all those years ago! Vikings culture is fascinating – they travelled so far in those open boats! Scandiavia is on our list, but our plans have been scuppered due to Covid, but we’ll get there in the end!

    1. I’d love to explore Scandinavia more as well. The people of Copenhagen seemed so resilient and hardy. They were out on their bikes in freezing, rainy temperatures with bundled babies in tow. I guess they take after their ancestors. I hope you can visit soon! ❤️

      1. Fingers crossed! The people of Scandinavia sound like the women of Newcastle. I got funny looks when I went out on a snowy Friday night in February wearing a heavy coat and boots. The girls were all out on the town in boob tubes, mini skirts and strappy sandals!
        I am not a proper Northerner!

I’d love to hear from you. What do you think?

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.