June 6, 2015
Vikings and a Scandinavian Versailles
We have been heading north since we landed in Paris. While Odense is definitely Scandinavian, it’s not the Vikings. H C Andersen was a gentle soul. I wanted to back to the time when the Northmen struck terror into the people who saw their long ships sailing towards them. Today, we got the full treatment. We had to leave the island of Funen and cross over to Zealand where lies Copenhagen. It took us about two hours to get to Roskilde, the old capitol of Danish Kings.
The Viking ship museum is not to be missed. The core of the collection are five Viking era boats/ships that were dug out of the mud at the bottom of Roskilde fjord. They were sunk by the Danes on purpose to slow down a Norwegian invasion. I guess I should know who won but that was of minor importance to me. What is great is that the ships have been “restored” and used as working models for what the museum calls “experimental archeology”. They use the remains and what they know from other recovered ships to reconstruct replicas or at least full size working models.
They reconstructed a 80 warrior long ship that was originally built in Dublin before being repaired with Norwegian and Danish oak some thousand years ago. The ship carried a modern crew from Roskilde to Dublin and back via the North Sea. Oh yes, Dublin although distinctly Irish today was settled and built by the Vikings. I took full advantage of the chance to sit in the boat and pretend for a moment.
They have also rebuilt, using traditional tools – really cool axes and chisels – replicas of a large variety of Viking era and traditional boats. These included boats that were used for fishing by my Great Grandfather near the Arctic Circle. They have shops and log yards and all the neat stuff needed to make authentic boats. They also provide opportunities for land lubbers to sail like a Viking around the fjord. The woman using the loom new my grandmothers birthplace and the kinds of sails they used in the 19th Century. I hope some of the old stuff is still around. The museum is a wonderful place.
We left before the place was packed and even found a supermarket for picnic supplies. We proceeded a little way to Fredericksborg Castle, the “Scandinavian Versailles”. The brick castle sits on small island surrounded by ducks and swans. Great place for a picnic.
The castle was constructed in 18 years starting in 1602 and was finished prior to Danish involvement in the 30 Years War. Christian IV was perhaps Denmark’s greatest king after the Viking era. As the leader of a Lutheran country, he felt compelled to take on the Hapsburg Empire. The financial backing of the French during the time of Richeliu helped but not enough. The Danes quickly found that they were in too deep. Anyway, the brick palace was homier than Versailles but still impressive. However, it was a bit unnerving to walk through miles of rooms with thousands of portraits staring at you. Peggy enjoyed the wardrobe of the current queen, especially the colorful raincoat.
We kept looking for comfy chairs and a place to snuggle. There were none. There were also no bathrooms in sight or kitchens to fix a snack. Maybe living in a palace is not as comfortable as home sweet home.
We drove the last few miles to Helsingor or Elsinore which is our home for two nights. Peggy has finished a pile of laundry since our hotel palace lacks servants. Maybe we should go back to Fredericksborg.