Fast-forwarding to today the reconstruction of the ship was sailed to Dublin in the summer of 2006 finding a huge crowd to welcome it when it sailed up the liffey to where its predecessor was likely built. The ship was over-wintered in the National Museum of Ireland, Collins Barracks until it was craned out in the summer of 2007 following lots of labour intensive maintenance of the hull. I was there when they lifted it into the water just beside th eastlink toll bridge and spent a fun morning filling the ship with a couple of tons of ballast.
The ship spent some time in Dublin being prepared for the voyage before sailing off on its return journey. Its route out along the Liffey went straight past my front door which I was unfortunately standing at as I was only on the reserve list for the voyage! Luckily about two weeks later I got a call to say I would be joining the ship in England, halfway through the voyage. I had one week to buy all the equipment I needed and get to London where I met the other replacements who joined the ship half way.
In the summer of 2008 I was lucky enough to be part of the crew of a reconstructed viking longship built by the Viking Ship Museum in Roskilde, Denmark. The Sea Stallion is a reconstruction of a ship deliberately sunk in the Roskilde fjord sometime after it was built in 1042AD. The accurate date for the ship comes from dendrochronological analysis of timbers from the ship that also allowed identification of where the timbers for the ship were sourced. This turned out to be somewhere in the vicinity of Hiberno-Norse Dublin.
We met the ship in Lowestoft in eastern England but frustratingly, the weather gods prevented our sailing for a full week. Eventually we got going and sailed across the North Sea to Holland before making our way northwards to Denmark and the Limfjord. Sailing at night in the north sea is an experience that will always stay with me and I was lucky enough not to feel sea sick and to actually enjoy sleeping on deck under the stars with the ship rocking me to sleep!
Our arrival in Roskilde was spectacular with a huge flotilla of boats, yachts and traditional craft escorting us in and thousands of people lining the shore to greet us. An incredible ship, incredible crew an incredible experience and at the same time an amazing bit of experimental archaeology.
I would highly recommend a trip to the Roskilde Ship Museum if you can ever make it but in the meantime have a look at my Sea Stallion page for some more photos and here and here for even more images and information.