Norway’s Viking Ships Defied Time, but Tourism May Be a Fiercer Foe

Norway’s Viking Ships Defied Time, but Tourism May Be a Fiercer Foe

He added that it was unlikely that the Gokstad, built about 70 years after the Oseberg, made it to North America, as it was constructed well before the first Vikings are thought to have reached the continent around the year 1000.

The 70-foot Oseberg and the 78-foot Gokstad were immediately recognized as historic discoveries when they were found, the Gokstad in 1879 in Sandefjord, south of Oslo, and the Oseberg in 1903 on a nearby farm.

“It means the same to our part of Europe as the tomb of Tutankhamen does for Egypt,” Mr. Glorstad said.

The discovery of the Gokstad, in particular, was crucial in verifying some of the Norse sagas, he said, and the ships “provided a visual language to the recently independent Norway, searching as it was for a glorious past.”

A replica of the Gokstad was built, and in 1893 it was sailed across the Atlantic and through the Great Lakes to Chicago, where it was displayed at the Columbian Exposition. That ship is housed today near Chicago, and faces its own funding challenges for restoration.

The Viking era is enjoying a renaissance among Norwegians and foreign visitors, buoyed in part by television series like “Vikings,” on HBO; “The Last Kingdom,” on Netflix; “Game of Thrones,” with characters and plots that echo the sagas; and “Beforeigners,” a new Norwegian-language series from HBO.

That has meant more interest in Norwegian history. A permanent Viking exhibition opened this summer at the Museum of Cultural History, and Viking Planet, a private entertainment center described as a “visual portal to the Viking age” with digital recreations of the lifestyle, opened next to City Hall in Oslo.

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