The Vikings are coming [back]!

Fascinating story, flagged up in a BBC report. A reconstructed Viking longship, based on one of five deliberately scuttled wrecks found in 1962 at the village of Skuldelev, near Roskilde, Denmark, will set sail on 1st July from Roskilde heading for Dublin.. where dendrochronological analysis showed that the original ship was built around 1042. The longship, named Havhingsten fra Glendalough [the Sea Stallion from Glendalough] has been built by hand using the materials and methods of the original builders, it was completed in 2004 after 4 years work, with some modifications since. There’s an abundance of online material at the BBC and at the dedicated Sea Stallion from Glendalough website – owned and maintained by the Viking Ship Museum – including an interactive map where the progress of the ship, and crew, can be followed. They’re hoping to make Dublin in or around the 14th August and the Sea Stallion is intended to form the centrepiece of a Viking Exhibition at the National Museum of Ireland until June 2008.Photo: Werner Karrasch / The Viking Ship Museum, Denmark

, , ,

  • Metacom

    Back for a bit of rape and pillage like the good old days? Point them towards Temple Bar!

  • William T Cosgrave

    I can’t recall ever reading anything as pompous as using the word ‘dendrochronological’ without anysort of explanation what it means. I doubt there are ver may who have a clue what it means.

  • páid


    I’m no genius and I knew roughly what it meant.

    And it would take all of 5 seconds to google it.

    Pompous? Dear me.

  • merrie

    Just goes to show that bygones can be bygones, old wounds heal, etc.

    Maybe in 800 years time there will be an exhibition of a few lambegs, some artfully embroidered William of Orange banners and Darth Rumsfield’s sash.

  • merrie

    I forgot to mention:

    a black balaclava

    some Northern Banknotes

  • Dewi

    The Vikings haven’t gone away you know….

  • merrie

    and lastly:

    a 400 metre scroll containing one of Pete Baker’s shorter contributions to Slugger with all cross-references and links (plus a few of the (insulting) comments from other contributors)

  • snakebrain

    Dendrochronology is basically the study of the age of ancient wood, with particular reference to dating sequences established from cross-comparison of wood samples, which allow many wooden items to be extremely accurately dated.

    The radiocarbon dating scale is cross-referenced against dendrochronological data, and in fact all the hard dates on the scale are arrived at first through dendro results and then calibrated with the radiocarbon data.

    But, as someone said, you could have found that out from wikipedia.

  • mojo

    My Dear Cosgrave. The brothers and I do so hope that was meant to be ironic. Barring that….. DUCK!

  • DK

    OK – I didn’t bother to read the link, but how can dedrochonology be used to date a ship. The planks could have come from a 20 -40 -200 -400 year old tree. Just whatever forest was growing near the boatyard. And the planks could be from any part of the trunk – the outer part could seem like a younger tree. Maybe the vikings wrote on it “made in 1042” in runes.

  • DK

    OK – read the link. None the wiser on dendrochronology, except that 300 oak trees were used, so maybe 1042 is an average date. However, Pete missed an important fact: the original ship was made in Dublin. Which explains why the reconstructed ship is headed to Dublin.

    Less links – more clarity.

  • Pete Baker

    DK [and William]

    Google is your friend

    However, I should probably have said that the dendrochonological analysis suggested that Dublin, around 1042, was where the ship was built.

  • Pete Baker


    Missed an important fact?

    No. Read the original post again.

  • snakebrain

    You’re right to question that DK.

    What dendrochronology will allow you to do is to establish in exactly what years the timbers employed in the construction of the ship were alive and growing. Carbon-14 dating will confirm this.

    You’re right that there are other relevant factors, like the part of the tree the timbers come from and the size of the tree when it was felled. Thich can often be ascertained from the planks used. The time that the wood was seasoned for can also be considered.

    Applying the pretty straightforward principles of dendro to real-life situations is more of an art than a science, like a lot of archaeological techniques, but it gives amazingly accurate answers in the right hands, often confirmed by other contextual or documentary evidence.

    I haven’t seen the reports on this one, but I’d say if they’re quoting it to the year, it’ll be heaily based on dendro results and corroborated by the other data. Even stratigraphical data, the layer of soil or sediment the artefact is found in, can often give dates to within a few years in urban and estuarine contexts, and if all the dates tally, you can say with a fairly high degree of confidence: This ship was built in 1042, or whatever year it happens to be.

    It all gets a lot more difficult when you go back a bit further and the data-sets get thinner. By the time you’re considering early hominids, about 3-4 million years ago, you’re lucky to pin a context, and hence an artefact down to a 100,000yr bracket. Even that’s quite an acheivment to my mind.

  • Rory

    Would dendrochronology be useful in determining the ages of popular Irish broadcasters such as Gerry Anderson, Gay Byrne and Terry Wogan? Or perhaps it could be employed to date the contents of Hugo Duncan’s playlist.

  • snakebrain

    Hugo Duncan? I’d say the best way to date those records would be to estimate the geological era and call it a day at that.

  • DK

    “Missed an important fact?

    No. Read the original post again.”

    Oops – and I (so I thought) carefully read it several times too, and still missed it. Probably because it was in red & brain skipped those bits. Please accept my abject apologies and I will now go and flagellate myself.