My favorite museum in Oslo was the Viking Ship Museum on Bygdoy Island, where you can see actual Viking ships recovered from burial mounds in Norway. Growing up in Minnesota, we would see a replica Viking ship in Leif Erikson park up in Duluth. The replica was impressive, but seeing actual Viking ships up close was beyond pale.
The construction of the Viking ships showcase a level craftsmanship that is astounding on its own. However, when taken in tandem with the wood carvings on the ship, the craftsmanship of the Vikings is unparalleled. The intricacies of the carving are astounding considering the lack of modern tools.
The Vikings present an interesting paradox. Historians, and the people they conquered, considered the Vikings to be barbaric marauder, but the Vikings were also expert seafarers and sophisticated craftsmen. Inside the museum, a part from the ships, there are sleds, wagons and other vestiges of the Viking Age on display. The Viking’s expertise is on full display through each exhibit.
The ships at the Viking Ship Museum were constructed in the traditional fashion. The Vikings passed on their ship building knowledge, a tradition, from generation to generation. As a consequence, Viking ship builders picked very specific types and shapes of trees for their ships. If you are a fan of the show Vikings or find yourself in Oslo, this museum is a must see.