The summer the Vikings reconquered Vestfold
The summer of 2010 the Vikings reconquered Tønsberg, Norway’s oldest city, and the rest of Vestfold county as well, with a Viking skip in almost every port. And who else to lead the troops but Donald Duck!
It all started in May when chairman of Vestfold County Council, Per-Eivind Johansen launched the Viking Trail concept at an event in the Borre Park
. Then things really started happening: After years of preparations and organizing funding the New Oseberg Ship Foundation was finally able to begin the building of the ship in Tønsberg on 17 June. The ship is being built in the original way, using manual power and exact replicas of the old tools – for the first time since the Viking Age, actually. The ship is due to be launched in the autumn of 2011. Some financing is still outstanding and any contributions are highly appreciated!
Vikings in the streets
This summer there were Vikings in the streets of Tønsberg, on their way to and from the Oseberg building site. We could also enjoy the sight of two smaller Viking ships moored in port – one belonging to the Oseberg scouts, the "Sæheimr” right by the site and "Frøya” of the Borre Viking Group on the other side of the channel.
More ships and a market
At midsummer, two Viking ships competed in a small regatta outside Sandefjord: the privately-owned Oseberg copy called "Åsa” and the Gokstad copy "Gaia”. In June, the Slottsfjell Museum in Tønsberg re-opened after refurbishment and restoration. The original Klåstad Viking ship is the focus of the new exhibition, while the half model of the Osebergship stands proud outside.
The renowned Viking Market in Borre took place at the beginning of July with 600 Vikings and thousands of visitors attending. The Viking market has become a tradition at Borre and gets more impressive every year.
A tourist attraction
Throughout the summer work continued on the building site for the new Oseberg ship. Interest was widespread and people came from near and far to watch and learn. The building process quickly became a tourist attraction and is still attracting attention even though the holiday season is over. Boat builder Geir Røvik has promised outdoor activities during the cold season as well, even though some work – such as weaving and wood carving – is being done indoors, in the lobby of the Quality Oseberg hotel (next to the site).
Donald Duck as Viking!
In August even Donald Duck became a Viking! The Egmont publishing company launched the book "Donald Duck following in the Vikings’ footsteps”. In the classic story "The golden helmet” the Oseberg ship plays a significant role. Another Carl Barks classic is also inspired by Viking history: "Donald Duck on Greenland”. The preface to the book is the richly illustrated story about the Oseberg find written by Viking expert and archaeologist Knut Paasche, who was previously in charge of the Viking Ship collection in Oslo.
And there is more..
Vestfold County Council intends to focus strongly on the Viking Age as a business development and tourist area. In early January the Great Hall will be raised near the Borre mounds, funded and organised by the County Council. Next summer the New Oseberg Ship will begin to assume its majestic shape on the pier in Tønsberg.
The Vikings have returned to Vestfold – and they are here to stay.