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Where is Zealand?

Denmark

Things to do
Viking Ship Museum

Viking fans will be wowed by the superb Viking Ship Museum, which displays five Viking ships discovered at the bottom of Roskilde Fjord. The museum is made up of two main sections – the Viking Ship Hall, where the boats themselves are kept; and Museumsø, where archaeological work takes place. There are free 45-minute guided tours in English daily at noon and 3pm from late June to the end of August, and at noon on weekends from May to late June and in September. Viking Ship Hall Roskilde’s Viking-era inhabitants were expecting trouble in the mid-11th century. Five clinker-built ships, all made between 1030 and 1042, were deliberately scuttled in a narrow channel 20km north of Roskilde, presumably to block an attacking army. Once they had been holed and sunk, a mass of stones was piled on top to create an underwater barrier.In 1962, a coffer dam was built around the barrier and sea water was pumped out. Within four months, archaeologists were able to remove the mound of stones and excavate the ships, whose wooden hulks were in thousands of pieces. These ship fragments were painstakingly reassembled onto skeleton frames in the purpose-built Viking Ship Hall. This brutal-looking minimalist construction becomes something magical inside, where the ghostly boats seem to float once more on the waters of the fjord.The ships, known as Skuldelev 1, 2, 3, 5 and 6, show off the range of the Viking shipwrights: there’s an ocean-going trading vessel, a 30m warship for international raiding, a coastal trader, a 17m warship probably used around the Baltic, and a fishing boat. Carbon dating and dendrochronology have discovered further secrets, including their builders’ geographical scope – Skuldelev 1, for example, was made in Norway, whereas Skuldelev 2 came from Dublin.Interesting displays about the Viking Age put the boats into a historical context, and the basement cinema runs a 14-minute film (in Danish, English, French, German, Italian and Spanish) about the 1962 excavation. There’s also a fascinating exhibition and film documenting the nail-biting 2007 voyage of the Havhingsten fra Glendalough from Roskilde to Dublin and back. Based on the 60-oared warship Skuldelev 2, it’s the largest Viking ship reconstruction to date (an incredible 340 trees went into its creation).Museumsø On Museum Island, adjacent to the Viking Ship Hall, craftspeople use Viking-era techniques and tools to build replicas of Viking ships. Ottar, Havhingsten fra Glendalough, Roar Ege, Helge Ask and Kraka Fyr (reconstructions of Skuldelev 1, 2, 3, 5 and 6 respectively) are moored in the harbour, where you can really appreciate their light, flexible designs.In summer, a shipwright, blacksmith, tar-burner, weaver, rope-maker and fletcher demonstrate their crafts. Children can join in the fun by striking coins and painting their own shields.Boat Trips If you’ve always had an urge to leap aboard a longboat for a spot of light pillaging, join one of the museum’s hour-long boat trips. Traditional Nordic boats are propelled across the water by you and the rest of your shipmates.From mid-May to the end of September, 50-minute trips run one to three times daily, with an additional two to three trips daily from late June to mid-August, weather dependent. Call ahead to confirm sailing times. Tickets (Dkr90) are additional to the main museum entry ticket. </p>