Called one of the finest finds to have survived the Age of the Vikings, the Oseberg ship (or in Norwegian: Osebergskipet) is a remarkably well-preserved Viking ship discovered in a large burial mound at the Oseberg farm in Vestfold county, Norway. It was discovered and excavated from the largest known ship burial in the world by Norwegian archaeologist Haakon Shetelig and Swedish archaeologist Gabriel Gustafson in 1904-1905. It’s on display at the Viking Ship Museum located on the Bygdøy peninsula in Oslo. The hall for the Oseberg ship was built and the ship was moved from University of Oslo shelters in 1926. The halls for the additional displays of Viking Ships ships found in Gokstad and Tune were completed in 1932.
Nearby are other museums, including the Kon-Tiki and Fram and the Norsk Folkemuseum. Bygdøy is largely a residential zone of upscale demographics and as you head to the museums you pass by The King’s Forest and the Bygdøy Royal Estate (which is the official summer residence of the King of Norway and protected from development).
My bride and I visited this area while in Norway on our honeymoon and so, armed with a traditional Norwegian carryalong lunch of open-faced cheese and butter sandwiches (separated by wax paper), Chelsea and I set out for our day as museum nerds in Bygdøy.
Looking at these artifacts it’s very striking what hearty folk these Vikings were, setting out on ocean voyages on such tiny spartan vessels. Norwegians in general are often taciturn people, not given to anything like the over-enthusiastic behavior of people here in Los Angeles. I’ve been told that they treasure solitude and that on a day-off hike in the woods it can ruin the entire experience for a Norwegian should they encounter another person. We were treated with such warmth in Oslo that the expected feeling of disorientation I imagined before I got there never happened. I didn’t know the language and had never experienced such sustained sunlight, yet being there surrounded by my wife’s “second family” from her school days I felt at home almost immediately.
Summer is short in that part of the world, and in Oslo people waste no time in celebrating the warm weather. The country is beautiful, and the city of Oslo, for example, has made two-thirds of it’s forests, hills and lakes protected areas giving it an airy and green appearance. The hilltops surrounding the city are free of development so from anywhere in town you can see the trees. As the days grow shorter and winter (such as it is) starts to grow closer in Southern California I am remembering the long days and virtually non-existant nights in Norway this last spring, where the sun just barely set, darkness never completely fell and everything I saw was totally new to me.