Visiting the Vikings

This week I have mostly been quaffing mead and growing my beard… Oh and visiting some of Denmark’s finest historical institutions, representing that wonderful period of time characterised by piracy and maritime adventure.

My first lead took me to Trelleborg, for Denmark’s second (!) largest Viking ‘Market’. About 1000 re-enactors and traders come to this archaeological centre every year for a weekend of fighting, feasting and…uh…fighting. The site centres on the best preserved defended settlement or ring-fort, built under orders by Harald Bluetooth at the end of the 10th Century. The associated museum exhibits some wonderful finds from the excavation at the site, including a huge array of weapons and various craft tools. Outside, there is an impressive reconstruction of one of the excavated longhalls, built in the 1940s, along with a whole village of more recently built constructions. During my visit the whole centre was covered in a sea of canvas, with various woollen clad figures milling around fires or tinkering with some other viking-age craft. As the afternoon progressed, it became apparent that a gurt fight was to happen imminently, so I headed to the ring-fort to get a good vantage point.

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From Trelleborg I continued west to the village of Ladby. Here, a great little museum accompanies the preserved in-situ remains of a huge Viking ship burial along with a reconstruction of the boat, bobbing away in the adjacent fjord.

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Still not having my thirst quite quenched, I rampaged across Jutland to the western coast to the famous historic town of Ribe with its Viking & Middle Ages Museum (one of the finest museums I have ever visited!) and then on to the Viking Centre on the outskirts. The Open Air Museum was substantial; with a farmstead (complete with livestock and field-scale veg growing), half a dozen timber halls, a pagan shrine, a newly built ringfort and, of course, a harbour currently under construction with ships on the way.

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Now, where was I…!? Time to head back on track to Germany and the Stone Age.

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