17th December

Vikings on the starboard bow

Jehan Ashmore

After a gap of 900 years the Vikings are coming back, well almost! In the guise of an exact replica of a Viking warship longboat, Sea Stallion of Glendalough is set to arrive into Dublin Port in mid-August having sailed from Denmark.Sea Stallion of Glendalough

The journey begins in Roskilde on July 1 when the vessel sets sail for Dublin via the North Sea. Enthusiasts can keep track of the voyage on the website www.seastallion.dk.

 

The National Museum of Ireland at Collins Barracks is to open a 'Viking Ireland ' Exhibition starting on 28 June where the Sea Stallion of Glendalough will be the centre exhibit of 'Viking Ireland'. Prior to the Viking boats arrival, visitors can learn about the discovery of the original vessel and construction of the replica warship.

The event is being heralded as of the most important and exciting exhibitions to be held on Ireland's Viking Age and will vividly trace the history of these sea-faring people from Scandinavia.  

Sea Stallion of Glendalough's much anticipated arrival will be celebrated by a welcoming ceremony on 14-15 August at the Custom House Quay on the River Liffey before she is transferred to Collins Barracks.  

During the weekend of 17-19 August, the warrior warship will be on display in all its glory above the 30-metre long exhibit in the museums' Clarke Square. The longboat will remain as part of the exhibition until early summer 2008.

Replica

"We are the central welcoming place for the homecoming of Sea Stallion of Glendalough. The replica ship is like a ghost of a ship that left Dublin in the 1060s. It is the largest warship known from the Viking Age ― and to think built in Dublin!” exclaimed Dr Patrick Wallace, Director of the National Museum of Ireland, to Inshore Ireland. 

“She would have been part of the mercenary fleet belonging to the King of Dublin. The boat was seldom used in Irish warfare but was loaned out to English Kings. In fact, King Harold II at the Battle of Hastings hired the fleet. It was in this war that his children fled to Dublin after losing the disastrous battle of Hastings and we think that one of his children, a princess, was taken back in the 1060s from Dublin on that ship.”

Sea Stallion of Glendalough is a replica of the Viking longboat, Skuldelev 2, which was discovered fifty years ago near the town of Skuldelev in the Roskilde Fjord and is believed to have been built from Wicklow oak in Dublin in 1042. During the excavation, five Viking long-ships were also found with the Skuldelev 2 being the largest.

The significance of Skuldelev 2 led to the project that began in 2005 by the Viking Ship Museum at Roskilde. The longship was constructed using Viking shipbuilding methods to replicate the sails, ropes and pulleys.

The voyage will take seven weeks and will be a trial to test the replica ship’s sea-going characteristics in the very same waters of her predecessor. Performance of the boat's slender hull will also be closely examined and recorded to provide valuable new information on Vikings long-ships.

A mixed crew of 65 will sail and row their way in what will prove to be a physically challenging expedition as the Sea Stallion of Glendalough is an open-decked craft that also lacks modern onboard facilities.

In addition to the ‘Viking Ireland’ exhibition, a permanent ‘Viking Age’ exhibition is on display at the National Museum on Kildare Street.

This exhibition focuses in particular on the daily life of Dublin from c.800AD to c.1150AD, depicted through the artefacts excavated at Wood Quay. Both exhibitions are open to the public and admission is free.   

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