Norway: risks to ancient Viking ships from financial greed


The Oseberg ship

From The Scotsman:

Viking longships’ last voyage strikes fear into the heart of archaeologists

WALTER GIBBS IN OSLO

A ROW has broken out in Norway over a decision to move three ancient Viking ships, which may not survive the journey.

The University of Oslo has decided to move three longships, probably by lorry and barge, to a new museum, despite dire warnings that the thousand-year-old oak vessels could fall apart en route.

A retired curator of Oslo’s current Viking Ship Museum has said that the delicately preserved ships, two of which are nearly 80ft long, were almost equal in archaeological importance to the Pyramids.

“Even if I have to live till I am 100, I will go on fighting this move,” the former curator, Arne Emil Christensen, 70, said.

“The best way to stop it is still through diplomacy, but, if necessary, I will be in front of the ships, chained to the floor.”

The university’s board of directors has to move the sleek-hulled vessels over the objections of Christensen and several other Viking Age scholars, including the former director of the British Museum, David Wilson, and the director of Denmark’s Centre for Maritime Archaeology, Ole Crumlin-Pedersen.

The board wants to transport the popular ships from a remote Oslo peninsula where they have been housed for more than 75 years to a large, multifaceted museum in the centre of the capital.

The three ships were recovered in pieces from separate Viking burial mounds more than a century ago, then painstakingly reassembled with rivets, glue, creosote and linseed oil.

Since then their condition has deteriorated markedly. Christensen said they have the consistency of dry crackers are now too fragile to move.

The most spectacular of them, the Oseberg ship, was built around the year 800 and has featured on the covers of many history books.

Its towering, carved snakehead prow and 30 oars offer insight into the old English prayer, “Deliver us, O Lord, from the fury of the Norsemen.” Viking raiders carried by such ships were the scourge of Britain and much of the European continent from the 8th to the 11th centuries.

So, they want to move these ships to the city center, where they expert more tourists.

And “tourists are money“, as the Sex Pistols sang.

And they take the risk of damaging the ships for that money.

The ships are on Bygdoy peninsula, not really “remote”, only a short ferry trip away from the center of Oslo, as I experienced myself when I was there.

There are five museums there, like the ship Fram of Nansen’s polar voyages, and the Folkemuseum, of cultural history.

Instead of improving public transport from Oslo city center to Bygdoy or Bygdö (a bit complex, as there are two languages in Norway), they risk damaging these over a thousand years old monuments.

The evil spirit of Pinochet, Thatcher, and Blair, at work.

3 thoughts on “Norway: risks to ancient Viking ships from financial greed

  1. Pingback: Mice travel on Viking ships | Dear Kitty. Some blog

  2. Pingback: Norwegian royals going to expensive private school | Dear Kitty. Some blog

  3. Pingback: Viking treasure discovery in Scotland | Dear Kitty. Some blog

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