Despite having moved to Second Norway eight months ago – and having been pretty familiar with the estate a good while before that – I have to admit I only recently discovered the Strandhavet Viking Museum, tucked away on the northern island of the estate. For those with any interest at all in Viking History, it is a compact treasure trove of information and artefacts.
Curated and operated by Katia (katia Martinek), the museum offers both indoors and outdoor exhibits to appreciate, and is richly informative on the Viking / Norse life and the extensive history and travels of the Vikings. From the landing point, the museum’s facilities might be split into three areas: the main exhibition building, the art centre and the outdoor displays.
The latter comprise two main displays – the Holmgang (duelling area) and the burial mounds, each presented with information boards that will either supply visitors with note cards or links to web pages where information on Viking burials (including the Lindholm Høje burial site) can be obtained.
The main museum building is laid out much as a physical world museum tends to be, presenting a mix of large, open displays and those placed behind glass to protect them, and visitors are encouraged by rope barriers and the general layout to follow a path into the centre of the building.
This route will take you by way of learning about Yggdrasil and Old Norse cosmology and the Överhogdal Tapestries, through displays focusing on Viking Life – dress, weapons, pastimes, architecture, transportation – notably the Viking long ship, which sits as the museum’s central display piece – religions (both pagan and Christian), law, and more. Again, individual displays offer note cards and / or links for further information, and Katia has clearly taken considerable time to bring together a collection that offers genuine insight to Viking society.
At the time of my visit, the museum included an exhibition entitled Vikings in the East. Many of us are likely more than familiar with the westward voyages and activities of the Vikings – their coastal raids down long the Atlantic coast of Europe the around Britain, their trans-Atlantic voyages, even their travels to the Mediterranean. What may be less familiar is their journeys east into central Europe and beyond. Vikings in the East helps to put much of the latter into perspective. If – like me – you’ve watched (and growled at) the seven seasons of Vikings, this exhibit offers a lot to help historically frame things.
The second of the museum’s building offers a display of Viking art, a small café and the opportunity to learn to play Berserker – which like chess, takes minutes to learn and a potential lifetime to master (although watching the animated playing pieces can keep players entertained!).
My only minor niggle is that – again, appreciating the LI count – the museum feels a little cramped, and could do with perhaps being a little larger; the featured exhibit is a little crowded-in by the presence of the long ship. But that aside, Strandhavet Viking Museum is an entertaining, engaging and informative visit.
- Strandhavet Viking Museum (Strandhavet, rated Moderate)