Vikings and their ships (part 2)
The building of the museum of the Viking ships in Roskilde.
It so happened that local fishermen knew about the ship lying in this area for a long time. Moreover, there was a legend that this ship was ordered to be flooded by the great Queen Margrethe, who ruled Denmark in the XIV century, in order to thus block the enemy the fleet way to the port of Roskilde. However, when in 1956 two scuba divers lifted an oak plank from this ship from the seabed and handed it over to specialists from the Danish National Museum, it turned out that it was four hundred years older than this queen! That is, this ship could only belong to the Vikings!
Since all five ships were found not far from the port of Skuldelev, for simplicity they were called "Skuldelev I", II, III, IV, V. This is the largest of the ships found - "Skuldelev I".
The Danish historians had no experience in conducting underwater archaeological research, and the aqualung itself, which made it possible to conduct such research, did not appear long ago, and it was only just begun to be mastered. Therefore, they placed no particular hopes on the results of underwater work. In addition, they feared that over the years ice and tides would have destroyed most of the ship. Nevertheless, in 1957, a search team consisting of five people, hiring scuba gear, a fire pump to remove the silt, a pontoon to house the equipment, began an underwater survey.
The work was very difficult. The fireman’s sediment raised clouds of silt, so it was necessary to wait until it was carried away by the current and only then to continue working. In addition, the ship's wreck was littered with heavy stones. And here, examining them, underwater archaeologists made their first discovery - next to the keel of the first ship, they saw the second! So the ship here was not alone?
However, it was here that the season ended, and only a year later they were able to resume their work. And then it turned out that at the bottom of the fairway Peberrenden - one of the most important fairways, lies not one, and not two ships, but five! First, the researchers managed to dig out the first two ships, and then clear a part of the hull of the third ship. Moreover, the oak from which it was made was preserved so well that even the notches from the shipbuilders' axes were visible on it, that is, it was only possible to dream of such preservation. Archaeologists have found and raised to the surface of the skin, transverse beams and fasteners. In addition, since this ship lay deep, all parts that had not been cleared away also had to be well preserved.
During the first three years of work under water, archaeologists raised the largest and most well-preserved wooden parts to the surface, and what remained at the bottom, they again carefully covered them with stones. In this form, the ships remained at the bottom until the excavation site was surrounded by a special dam.
Then, already in 1962, a pontoon with pumps was installed inside this dam and they began to gently pump water out of it. There was a danger that the stones could move and crush a fragile tree. Therefore, the water was pumped out very carefully, reducing its level by only a few inches per day.
When the ships were already on the surface of the water, students were involved in the work, who began to release them from stone captivity. We had to lie flat on the narrow wooden footbridge, located above the excavation site, and first loosen the stones with water jets from the hoses, and then collect them in buckets and take them on wheelbarrows.
It was forbidden to use any metal tools in order to not drop them by accident or damage the fragile wood. It was necessary to use plastic buckets, as well as children's scoops for sand and kitchen scrapers made of plastic - the only tools that made it easier for workers to do their work.
This is how the scuba divers worked under water, clearing the parts of the found ships and lifting them to the surface.
In addition, it was necessary to fear that the tree, once airborne, would dry out and warp at the same time, that is, the details would decrease in volume and lose their shape! Therefore, special sprinklers were installed at the place of work and the site of work was continuously watered with water, which made it necessary to work in raincoats and boots.
The scope of work was truly colossal. So, each find was photographed and attached to it tags describing which ship she belongs to and where she should be. In total, we managed to pick up 50000 debris from the seabed and catalog them all carefully!
The device housing, as you can see, was thoughtful and rational. Buttting, which increased its strength, as well as transverse and longitudinal fastenings — it all looks technically literate even today.
Interestingly, in the process of excavation it turned out that two of the five ships were not combat ships, but commercial ones. That is, the Vikings were able not only to fight, but also to trade, and even built special vessels for this purpose.
Moreover, one of these ships, the so-called "Knorr", turned out to be strong enough and roomy enough to withstand the storms of the Atlantic Ocean. So, it is possible that it was on such ships that the Vikings-immigrants set out to explore Iceland and Greenland, and did not sail there at all on the combat ships, the Drakkars. Another, relatively small and light ship, was a typical coastal vessel, which the Vikings used to sail the Baltic and North Seas. The sides of these ships were taller, while they themselves were wider than warships, narrow and streamlined. In the middle part there was a capacious hold, which could, if necessary, be covered with a leather awning to protect it from moisture. Interestingly, both merchant ships bore obvious traces of exploitation, and many years, as they were worn and beaten in many places.
It's hard to imagine, but this tree is about 1118 years old!
By the way, the lighter vessel, yielding in size to the second one, turned out to be the most valuable find. The fact is that, unlike other ships found at the bottom of the fjord, it retained its original shape. Moreover, 75 percent of the length of its thirteen and a half meter hull was not affected at all. From the stern, however, virtually nothing was left, but his curved nose from a single piece of oak wood was perfectly preserved, despite the millennial stay under water. He had no decorations, because it was a merchant ship, but despite this his outlines were very beautiful and aesthetic. On the ship there were holes for oars, but not all showed signs of wear. This made it possible to establish the size of his crew - just 4-6 people, and also the fact that it sailed more often than on oars.
Viking ships: Drakkar - on the left, Knorr - on the right. Fig. V. Korolkova.
As soon as it became known about the finds at the bottom of the Roskilde fjord, several Danish cities at once declared their readiness to equip for storage their respective museum premises. Roskilde was chosen, since the construction of a museum complex of glass and steel was already planned there. True, here began a purely technical trouble with the findings themselves. The fact is that in order for the tree not to dry out and not lose its shape, it is treated in baths with water and a special substance - glycol, and this operation takes from six months to two years. In theory, it was supposed to protect the wood. However, when everything was ready and the scientists began assembling the parts into one, it was noticed that the wood of some of the parts was still being dried. It turned out that the glycol penetrated into them only into the upper layers of the wood, but not deeper. Understanding what this will lead to over time, the scientists decided to remove the glycol, for which they began to bathe the wooden parts in the baths, first with hot water and then rinse with cold, after which the tree again swelled and acquired the same volume.
Now the process decided to improve. The water was replaced with butanol, a type of alcohol that promoted the uniform introduction of glycol into the pores of wood, which allowed it to be strengthened, but was no longer threatened with shrinkage. As a result, the restorers were able to continue their work on assembling ships and bring it to the end.
Next to the museum is the shipyard, where modern masters of the past create the same crafts as those that are on display in the museum.
Parts of the ships were placed on special metal hulls, imitating hull lines, and the missing parts were never replaced, although the overall outlines of the hulls were fully preserved. One of the halls had to be lengthened, since the ship that was supposed to be in it was too big for him. Two merchant ships were given a place of honor against the backdrop of a huge window overlooking the fjord, which became an excellent decoration for their silhouettes.
And then on them for money (only 80 crowns!) Roll everyone. The sensations from this voyage are said to remain unforgettable!
Most importantly, even a partial reconstruction of all these courts showed that the people who built them had a lot of experience and were true masters of their craft. That is, they were able to create both functional and beautiful vessels at the same time. At the same time, they worked, using the most primitive tools, did not know mathematics and mathematics, and nevertheless, they were able to build ships with excellent nautical qualities. On the other hand, all these five Viking ships are also a monument to modern scientists who were able to extract their debris from the sea floor, protect them from inevitable destruction when dried in air, and save them for us and our descendants.
Well, this ship was found only in 1996, right here in Roskilde, and quite by accident. It was the largest among all the Viking ships found to date. It has already been calculated that it was built at that time, and it was built around 1025, approximately 30 thousand man-hours of work of shipbuilders took, and you should add to this the work of lumberjacks and the transportation of materials to the construction site. The length of the ship exceeds 36 meters, which is as much as four meters more than the length of Henry VIII’s flagship Mary Rose, which was built five centuries later. On board the ship could take 100 warriors, who took turns rowing 39 in pairs of oars, if suddenly the wind for his woolen square sail was not enough. It was cramped on board, I had to sleep, sitting between my chests, and there was also very little room for supplies. Therefore, they took them to a minimum and only at one end, since the voyage was short. Experienced voyages of ship-copies of the Viking ships were able to prove that they easily withstand the average speed of the 5,5 knot, and with a fresh wind they can rush at the speed of 20 knots. There is not much left of this ship, but, nevertheless, it is quite possible to imagine what exactly this super-Drakkar looked like ...
To be continued ...
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