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“Vikings: Beyond the Legend” display sails into Cincinnati with four ships, and around 500 artifacts

Ian Harvey

On November 11th  Viking Ships will sail into the Cincinnati Museum Center.

Vikings are invading once again, but not in their usual violent way. The ships will enter the Union Terminal on November 11th to celebrate the opening of the newest special exhibit, featuring the Scandinavian seafarers.

People most likely picture burly, bearded barbarians with horned helmets whenever Vikings are mentioned, yet experts now state this to be inaccurate. The “Vikings: Beyond the Legend” exhibit aims to combat the stereotype by showcasing four ships and around 500 artifacts that highlight the skilled craftsmanship the Vikings possessed.

Viking Ship Museum Photo Credit

Viking Ship Museum Photo Credit

The exhibit will feature four large ships on an interactive, hands-on display. There will also be more than 500 artifacts on loan from the Swedish History Museum. These original artifacts display the craftsmanship of the people, who used bone, silver, iron, bronze, wood, textiles, leather, and ceramics to create everyday items and ceremonial objects.

Guests will be able to virtually excavate the Viking ships layer by layer, uncovering rich finds like animals, tools, and weapons just like the archaeologists did. You can also test your own strength using a model Viking sword, and compete in unique Viking games.

On Wednesday, around a dozen people had to maneuver two replica ships into a warehouse which will hold them before their transfer to the Museum Center later this month. The Krampmacken is a replica of a 26-foot Viking trading boat that was discovered on Gotland Island, Sweden, in the 1920s. The Karls is a reconstruction of a 21-foot sailing vessel.

The exhibit will feature two more ships that have not yet been moved to Cincinnati. One is a unique “Ghost Ship”, made with original iron rivets supporting the spots they would have been placed before the oak hull deteriorated over the course of 1,000 years.

Possibly the most astonishing ship is the 122-foot Roskilde 6, a partly intact Viking long ship that was uncovered from the Roskilde Fjord, Denmark in 1997. This is the only artifact on loan from the National Museum of Denmark. This Viking warship was one of their fastest due to its long, narrow shape. Several rowers and a shallow draft helped it navigate Scandinavian and Northern European ports, as well as sail up the rivers and deep inland. The ship has never been on display in America, for the reason that not many museums have the capacity to house such a large artifact.

A news release from the museum states the exhibit burst the myth of a culture that was devoted to war and destruction. Vikings actually were explorers, traders, and artisans who contributed to literature, navigation, and religion.

Silhouette of an original Viking ship Photo Credit

Silhouette of an original Viking ship Photo Credit

The Vikings were originally from Scandinavia, the area that today encompasses the countries of Finland, Norway, Sweden, and Denmark. Yet they also inhabited land throughout northern and eastern Europe. Between 750 and 1100 CE they also went through North America, Iceland, and the British Isles

While they were definitely warriors, and some did raid and plunder towns, even as far as the Mediterranean and northern Africa, they were also storytellers, merchants, and farmers. Their source of status was land ownership instead of brute strength. With the plundering aside, they engaged in trade through a large part of Europe. They favored their knowledge of sea current and the winds as alternative navigational tools for travelling between their trading centers. The Vikings also worshiped Norse gods like Thor, Freya, and Odin, but accepted several aspects of Christianity. Unlike their European counterparts, women were the heads of their households and had great influence in Viking society.

Discounted tickets for museum members went on sale October 3rd. General admissions tickets are on sale November 1st. Tickets will cost $19.50 for adults, $12.50 for children, and $17.50 for seniors.

“Viking: Beyond the Legend” is a combined venture between The Swedish history Museum and the Museum’s Partner located in Austria. The Rokilde 6 is a display of a joint venture between the National Museum of Denmark and it’s Partners.