So this post is a little delayed, third year is so full on at the moment!! However, as the work begins to die down, I really wanted to get back to writing for my blog. I thought I’d do another post about my trip to Copenhagen, seeing as I had already started on this and Roskilde was such a beautifully historically town.
The main reason for visiting Roskilde was for the Viking Museum, which houses the largest discovery of prehistoric ships in Northern Europe, including the longest warship ever found. As an avid history buff, visiting the home of the Vikings, I couldn’t really miss out!
The main attraction at the museum is the five 11th-century Viking ships, excavated from the fjord about 12 miles north of the city in the late 1960s. The ships include a Longship, Warship, smaller fishing and ferry boats. This gave you a chance to not only see the differences in design, but also build an idea of how intrinsic boats were to Viking communities.
Their importance can be ascertained from the context of the ships’ story. The ships were used as a protective device, blocking a navigation channel from seaborne assault through sinking the ships themselves. This protected the then capital of Denmark from enemy attack. The events are told in the museum through a series of images, with detailed time by time events, giving depth to the discoveries. This was a great feature to the museum, allowing the visitors to envisage the ships and their story rather than just view abstracted artefacts.
Another great feature of the museum was the experimental archeology at the boatyard. Within this section of the museum, they undertake research in materials and methods of construction. In the yard, they put these Viking boat-building traditions to use, by building and exhibiting full-scale ships. These ships have been taken on exact Viking voyage routes, testing their seaworthiness, as well as building an understanding of the uses of the different ships.
Although our trip to Roskilde was focussed on seeing the Viking Museum, I couldn’t resist a visit to the UNESCO-listed Gothic cathedral in the city. Roskilde Cathedral was the first Gothic cathedral to be built of brick, completed in 1275, and encouraged a spread of brick built Gothic architecture across Northern Europe.
However, the cathedral has a history even earlier than this, with the original wooden structure first built in the 8th Century by the Viking King Harold Bluetooth. Today the cathedral is the burial site of 39 Danish monarchs and continues to be the main place of burial, leading to considerable alterations over the centuries to accommodate the tombs. I loved the amount of history surrounding the place and you were also given an information booklet upon entry which gave so much information about the building including architectural features and the history behind the buried monarchs.
As well as dominating the skyline with its impressive spires, looming over the city, the interior of the cathedral boasts an equally lavish design. Each of the chambers housing the burial tombs was unique leading to a combination of beautifully designed wall decorations and additions, from classic frescos to grand marble columns.
Roskilde town, Cathedral and Viking Museum were such lovely places to visit. It was so interesting to see how the Viking history of Denmark is still evident today in Roskilde, through the Cathedral and also the shipyard at the Viking Museum.
I can hopefully get back into the routine of writing blog posts again now the Christmas holidays are drawing near! I can’t wait to write all about my time in Paris for my History of Art module and a few historical visits around York in future posts.