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The Gokstad Ship,

The Gokstad ship is displayed together with the Oseberg ship, the Tune ship and two of the smaller boats found at Gokstad in the large hall at the Viking Ships Museum in Oslo.

During the year 1880 the sons of  Gokstad, a farmer in Sandar, began to dig in the their land. Nicolay Nicolyasen led the Kings Mound excavation situated quite a distance away from the fjord where the ship would have sailed.  The excavation took a few months to complete. Nicolyasen transported the ship from Lahelle (Vestfold, Sandefjord) to Oslo and later restored.

The excavation of the Gokstad ship, built around the year 890 AC, answered many questions about the building and uses of Viking ships. Later archaeological inspections have dated the grave between the years 900-905 AC.
The ship had 32 rowing oar holes that left room for 70-80 men on board; this supports the idea that this was a warship. Even though Gokstad was not as richly decorated as the Oseberg ship, it stands out as a construction masterpiece. Gokstad has a stronger keel than any other Viking ships from Vestfold. The keel was hewn from a single tree trunk that must have measured 25 metres height. Both the mastfish (mast partner) and the kjerringa (a large block of oak) were extremely strong, the kjerringa is strengthened by knees (naturally bent branches). The mastfish is solidly fixed to fit the crossbeams, supported firmly on each side by knees.
The planking, sixteen pieces on each side of the ship form the hull below the water line to the side, were of solid construction. These details play an important part during sailing when the hull's endurance was put to the test.
The Gokstad ship's seaworthiness was demonstrated by a copy, Viking, which was built at Framnæs shipyard, Sandefjord in 1893. 

The three small boats

The smallest of the boats in the mound, measures 6.60 meters in length. The small rowing boat was most likely the ship's boat, to be used when the ship lay in anchor or for use on long voyages. A boat, like this one, that can be rowed with 4 oars is often known as a færing.
The largest of the three boats found was 9.75 meters in length. This boat has most likely been used in fjords or used as a fishing boat. A boat, like this one, that can be rowed with 6 oars is called a seksring.
These smaller boats gave us a lot of exciting information about other aspects of seafaring during this period. Nicolaysen described the excavations: "If we take into consideration the findings of the three smaller boats, these can be viewed with even more wonder than that of Gokstad, for as far as we know these are the only small boats of this kind ever found from this period".
Other small boats from the Viking period have been found, but none have been in such good condition that they could be reconstructed.
Frederik Johannesen, a Norwegian naval architect, was in charge of the restoration of both the Oseberg and the small ships. "We see here a presentation of work that in every way deserves great respect, not just the handwork but also the finished product.  It is a delight to look at,  pure artistic enjoyment, this boat with its fine, clean lines, majestic, yet at the same time charming and soft in profile", he said. Although the three boats are very similar, it is the largest of the boats that is better built. "The sea routes were the best method available when travelling around Norway and of course, the only means when travelling further afield to countries in the South and  the West. We can see this clearly today, but to have been able to develop such well built vessels, there must have also been some kind of competitiveness amongst boat builders. As far as we can gather from documentation, it was Norway who had gained supremacy in ship building more than any other country in Northern Europe". Experience gained from sailing these vessels validate Johannesen's theory of the vessels seaworthiness.

The Mound Ruins

The Mound was extremely large. It was 43.50 metres in diameter and 5 metres high. It had probably been larger but had been reduced in size by farming activities such as ploughing and planting. The blue clay mixed with sand allowed the ship to be buried in good condition. Blue clay filled the ship and the bottom of the grave.  It was the items found in the clay that were the best preserved.
Today the mound is situated quite a distance away from the fjord where Gokstad would have sailed.  The land level has risen nearly 3 metres since the construction of the mound but even so the mouth of the fjord would have been 400 metres away.  It is believed the Vikings pulled the ship up along a stream called Hasle that runs close by the mound. 
The ship inside the mound contained a Burial Chamber fit for a Chieftain or King and with it his personal goods of practical use.  It was the custom to make sure the dead was well equipped for their life after death.  Some of the findings were most likely personal possessions of the Chieftain. 

The Burial Chamber

The Burial Chamber was situated behind the mastfish where the Chieftain would have stood as he navigated his ship.
The skeleton of a male between 50 and 70 years of age, of 1.85 metres tall (above the average height during this period), was found. By the side of the skeleton were fragments of wool and silk that are presumed to have been the dead mans clothing. Fragments of wood found are believed to have been part of a bed. He also had with him three fish hooks and a two sided board game made of oak with a playing piece made of horn, it is similar to the game called Mølle. Horses' harnesses  and one horseman roundel (ornament of bronze displaying a horseman) were found.

Outside of the Burial Chamber

The remains of a Peacock, an exotic bird, were found in the grave. Peacocks are natives of India and Sri Lanka , which must have been taken to Europe during the Viking period. The Peacock found at Gokstad is the oldest one brought to Northern Europe. 
The Chieftain also had with him six cups and a plate made of wood. In front of the mast the remains of 3 smaller boats, several beds, two pairs of verge boards belonging to a tent and equipment for a sledge was found. Kitchen utensils like a chopping board, an oblong wooden bowl and a large bronze pot were also found. A large cask with a capacity of 750 litres served to store the water supply.
Outside the ship area, there were remains of 12 horses and 6 dogs (maybe thought to be served as hunting in the afterlife).

Today, both in Norway and in other countries we find different copies of this boat

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