The Viking Ship Museum, located in the center of Oslo, houses the world’s best-preserved Viking ships, including one used in the largest known ship burial in the world. Together with a wide range of unique artifacts excavated from the burial mounds, this museum brings to life the fascinating era of the Vikings like no other. Free entry to the museum is included in the Oslo Card.
The absolute stars of the museum are its three incomparably preserved Viking ships. Named after the place in which they were found, the Oseberg Viking Ship, the Gokstad Viking Ship, and the Tune Viking Ship belong to three different classes of ships that fulfilled different functions, serving as warships or trading vessels. All three of those had been ocean-going before they were hauled on land and used in the ceremonial burial of their wealthy and influential owners. Today, they stand as unique examples of the ships that made the Vikings such feared warriors and admired explorers who achieved maritime feats that stand unrivaled to this day.
And what has survived of the ships offers a fascinating glimpse into the world of the Vikings, their belief system, customs, and crafts. The man buried onboard the Gokstad ship, a fast ship suitable for voyages across the high sea, for instance, suffered cutting blows to both legs, indicating a life as a warrior. On the richly decorated Oseberg ship, on the other hand, two women were found buried along with a number of extravagant and intricately made burial gifts.
These gifts and several more treasures are on display in addition to the ships themselves. Five exquisitely carved animal heads are the product of a highly skilled artisan who invested considerable time and effort into them, attesting to their owners high cultural, political, or military rank, although their exact purpose remains a mystery. The Oseberg cart, another stunning artifact of enormous artistic value, had already been an antique when it was buried with the two women and is rich in religious and mythological symbolism. These and various more finds await the visitors here.
To bring the history of the Vikings to life in even more palpable and immediate ways, the museum has produced a film following a Viking ship through its construction to journeys on the Norwegian fjords, across the open sea, and finally to its last resting place as a grave ship. Projected onto the high vaulted ceiling of the museum and produced with great attention to historical detail, the Viking ships exhibited in the museum come alive once more in a unique visual journey.