August 10, 2008

Vikingskiphuset and Historisk Museum

My 1st day in Oslo was spent at the new University of Oslo's Viking Ship and Cultural History Museums. Both were amazing - though the Viking Ship Museum is more of a tourist attraction and was packed by bus loads of tourists and at least half of the 42,000 American cruiseship passengers currently berthed in Oslo harbour. Who knew I could grow irritable at the sound of a mid-western drawl or texas twang in the midst of Bygdøy? A minor blip in the day...easily overcome by visiting the Historisk Museum..where tourists are nowhere to be seen.
These photos are of the famous Oseberg Ship, discovered near Tønsberg, Vestfold in a burial mound that dates from 843AD, though parts of the ship date to around 800AD. The mound contained the remains of 2 women - one of high rank and the other possibly a sacrificed servant - plus numerous artifacts. There is some hotly-contested speculation that the high-ranking woman may have been Queen Åsa of the Ynglinge clan, mother of Halfdan the Black and grandmother of Harald Fairhair. Perhaps this leaves you thinking, "she either is or she isn't".

All this was exciting enough, but the treasures I found in the Historisk Museum were beyond glorious. First, as I entered were the famous Ringerike Alstad stone and the Dynna stone, both 11th century runic memorial stones (the Dynna stone is dedicated to the fairest maiden in Hadeland).
Stones! and carved ones, at that.
It was enough to make my heart flutter and my blood sing.

Beyond these, are an amazing collection of medieval church doors - more animist than Christian it would seem. They feature highly stylised norse/celtic carvings - some in high relief that are amongst the most beautiful (and fanciful) I've ever seen. It made me proud to think that such highly evolved design skills ad sensibilitites are part of my heritage (whether or not I ever live up to the standard set by these ancient craftsmen).
My favourite door featured three large, ornate ironwork locks and decorations. Stunning!

What followed were rooms filled with artifacts of all sorts - including room after room of Viking weaponry and armour - helmets, chain mail, battle axes, and swords (Max and Nathan take note). I've taken some pictures, but will share them with you later.

Just so you know (and in case you're a stickler for proper timeframes) I arrived in Larvik today..which after all the planning, thinking, waiting, I find quite amazing. I whispered, "I'm here" to Magnus and Mathias as my bus passed lush, rolling fields, farmlands and the turnoffs for Tjølling and Hedrum. Ancestral ground. However, it's seriously cold and beating down a sideways rain, so instead of exploring, I'm looking out my window on old Larvik and drinking some good, strong coffee offered me by my hostess while I catch up with Oslo posts. One more to go...about (of all things) Norwegian art between the mid 19th to the mid 20th centuries.
For now, I'll leave you with a photo I've titled "My pilgrimage shoes meet their Viking Heritage".

1 comment:

Max, Ebbie and the Fuzzheads said...

Wow, just amazing stuff. What can I say really, thats all so beautiful. Can't wait to hear what Larvik is like!