First Viking Ship Replica: Inspired by Gokstad and Crossed Atlantic Ocean

“Viking” was her name, the first Viking ship replica. It is the replica of the Gokstad ship which was the largest preserved Viking ship in Norway. This replica first set sail in 1893 to cross the Atlantic Ocean.

The story began by sons of the owner of Gokstad farm

Gokstad was a farmland full of tales about the mystery of Viking ships. On hearing about those mysteries, the sons of the owner decided to dig out the plot of land. And as their wish, they found a bow of a ship. This discovery finally reached Viking archaeologists who came the Gokstad farm and ordered to stop the digging. The leader then came back with an archaeological team and started their excavation. The ship was buried with layers of blue clay to make it difficult to rot after 1000 years. Thereby, it was possible for the archaeologists to excavate and preserve the ship with accuracy. The ship is now on the Viking Ship Museum in Norway. This Viking ship excavation has become the global value.

Image of gokstad viking ship excavation
Gokstad Viking ship

The idea for the First Viking Ship replica

In 1889, a General who we don’t exactly know his identity came up with the idea of replicating the Gokstad ship. The idea became the topic for Bergens Tidende, a major newspaper at that time. But the mass didn’t really pay attention to the idea. In 12.1892, a replica of Colombus’s ship would be on display in Chicago to celebrate 400 years of the first time that Colombus set his foot on America.

A group of insightful people in Norway saw this as an opportunity and challenged to counter the viewpoint of Columbus’s discovery. They pointed out that the Vikings constructed and crossed the Atlantic ocean nearly half a millennium prior to Columbus. They had firmly believed this and they just waited for the opportunity. According to the Norse sagas, their belief was right, but there was a lack of the real evidence. Then they learnt of the Gokstad and formed a team to construct a replica of the ship for proving their belief.

With the rank of the naval captain, Magnus Andersen became the leader of the ship and the project as well. He wanted to replicate the Gokstad ship and sail it from Norway to the fair right in Chicago.

The journey to become the Sea Serpent

It was May of 1892 that the team started to construct the replica. The team met with the problems during the construction. And they faced the truth that it was very hard to find the exact material to construct the ship. Then they had to use some from Canada and some from the local. The ship was built in a private yard and the captain allowed no one to enter the place. This meant it included the photographers resulting in the lack of footage of “Viking” construction.

Off the Sea Serpent went to cross The Big Pond

From Oslo to Bergen, she was ready for the fateful journey of her life. The day was 30 April 1893. During the journey across the high wave, captain Andersen wrote carefully about how the ship acted under the harsh weather and the waves. He wrote down details how she performed well and even better than the modern ships.

Image of first Viking ship replica based on Gokstad ship
Captain Andersen in the middle holding the banner with the image of a raven. This banner led to the misunderstanding of the name of the ship.

Captain Andersen even let the ship in a race with some other ships before they reached New York. She rocked the whole race leaving her opponents behind. “Viking” whose design aged 1000 years earlier outpaced the-19th-century ships. This indicated this Sea Serpent replica nearly reached the point of perfection.

She arrived at the Columbian Exposition. And as long as she appeared, the grabbed all attention. Days after, her name dominated the headlines of the news all across the globe. It is not underserved to say that Viking simply stole the show. If anyone ever ironically doubted the power of Viking ship, the Sea Serpent could deal a blow.

Image of Viking ship replica arrived at Chicago Columbian Exposition in 1893
She finally arrived at the Chicago Columbian Exposition in 1893
Image of the Viking ship crossed the Atlantic Ocean
The journey across the Big Pond of “Viking” (Cre: Wikipedia)

In 1894, when the journey was more successful than expected, Andersen gifted Viking to the city of Chicago. The ship was preserved inside the museum until 1920 when she was exhibited outside in Lincoln Park. Due to the exposure to the weather, the ship gradually deteriorated. Archaeologists, scholars, and historians attempted to preserve the ship but not a project was successful to make the ship as great as she once was.

A beam of hope is on for the Viking replica as the Scandinavian American Council joined. If the future restoration is successful, Viking is surely to become a tourist attraction. After all, it is the first Viking ship replica and also the first to cross the Atlantic Ocean in nearly 1 millennium.

Image of First Viking ship replica
The attempt to preserve the Viking ship that crossed the Atlantic Ocean in 1893
Image of Viking ship crossed Atlantic Ocean
A look from the middle of the ship
Image of Viking ship First viking ship replica
The main mission now is to re-rivet the ship


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