The Viking Ship Museum in Roskilde is the Danish national museum for ships, seafaring and boatbuilding in the prehistoric and medieval period. Around the year 1070, five Viking ships were deliberately sunk at Skuldelev in Roskilde Fjord in order to block the most important fairway and to protect Roskilde from enemy attack from the sea. These ships, later known as the Skuldelev ships , were excavated in 1962. They turned out to be five different types of ships ranging from cargo ships to ships of war. The Viking Ship Museum overlooks Roskilde Fjord and was built in 1969 especially to exhibit the five newly-discovered ships.
The Viking Ship Museum in Roskilde is focused on ships, seafaring and boatbuilding culture in ancient and medieval times. The Viking Ship Hall is designed as a large showcase to display the five Viking ships found at Skuldelev. Besides the five original ships the hall also houses special temporary exhibitions in the West Room. In the East Room at the' Harbour bridge' there are copies of a trading vessel and a war ship equipped with barrels, trading goods and weapons as an active part of the exhibition. The cinema shows a film about the excavation and reconstruction of the Viking ships.
The exhibitions are placed all over the Museum grounds. The large collection of tradtional nordic wooden boats and Viking ship reconstructions berthed at the Museum Harbour gives an perspective to the exhibition at the Hall and helps create an image of what the Viking ships looked like a thousand years ago. At the Boat yard the boat building tradition and culture of the Viking age are communicated through working boat builders and exhibitions showing the historical background. As an active part of the museum you will find craftsmen working at the Museum Island and at the Archaeological Workshop, where ship finds from throughout Denmark are measured and recorded, maritime archaeology is exhibited in the summer season. The architectural style and the exhibitions express a definite attitude to the historical perspective. Visitors are not led back in time - the cultural history is brought up to the present.
Stone Age settlements, shipwrecks, defence systems, jetties, harbour installations and aircraft wrecks are artefacts of great historical importance and are therefore protected under the Danish Museum Act. Submerged relics can easily be destroyed when current and wave patterns are altered by construction works. Sites can also be damaged by ferry and ship traffic. Such threatened sites are investigated and excavated by the underwater archaeological museums. On behalf of the National Museum the Viking Ship Museum is responsible for archaeology in those parts of the Danish waters not covered by other museums.
If you find a shipwreck or other submerged site older than 100 years (from the time of wrecking) you must report the find to the appropriate museum. Archaeology is concerned with the excavation, surveying and protection of historical artefacts, both on land and under the sea. However, the water environment in maritime archaeology sets certain limits. Communication is difficult under water, visibility may be extremely poor, and the necessary diving suits and other equipment make the work exceedingly laborious. Read more about what you can find under water, how underwater sites are found, how they are excavated and recorded, and what happens to the artefacts when they are brought on shore.
The boatyard is on the Museum Lake and the work is carried out so that the public can follow the work closely. The boatyard builds clinker-built boats and its purpose is to preserve the maritime crafts that are associated with these boats. The boatyard specializes in reconstructions of prehistoric boats in full scale using the methods of the time. They also build new boats based on old traditions and restore and repair old boats. They accept building assignments from private sources and from other museums.