Step back in time
Experience life during the Viking age with Erin's top picks around denmark.
Photographs: Erin Gustafson
Text: Erin Gustafson
When you hear the word “Vikings”, what instantly jumps to mind? Maybe long-bearded axe-wielding warriors. Or seafaring explorers in longboats wearing horned helmets? Or maybe you conjure Ragnar Lothbrok? From the HBO series The Vikings? Or Thor. And Odin. Or just Chris Hemsworth? Nah. He’s Australian. And just plays a Viking in the movies. But how about Harald Bluetooth? Who?
Harald Bluetooth. If you live in Denmark you might. King Harald Bluetooth was the son of the original Danish King, Gorm the Old. Bluetooth claimed all of Denmark and Norway for its kingdom in the second half of the 10th century. Jump forward 1000 years, and the current reigning Danish monarch, Queen Margrethe II, can trace her family line back to old Gorm - making Denmark the longest running monarchy in Europe. Gorm and Harald were Vikings,
Like all the Scandinavian countries, Denmark is proud of its heritage and happy to share everything they know about its Viking history. All over the Danish country and throughout the landscape, evidence of the mighty Viking society can still be found. And you won’t need to know how to read the runestones to get a feel for how the Vikings lived 1000 years ago here in Denmark. This summer, seek out some of these immersive experiences around the country to get a real hands-on feel for this heritage yourself.
Bork Viking Harbor | Vikingevej 7, 6893 Hemmet
Near the southern end of the Rinkøbing Fjord, visitors to the Bork Vikinghavn will find a recreated village from Viking times. Part of the Rinkøbing-Skjern Museum, all the structures here are based on actual archaeological finds from this part of Jutland. Step inside workshops to see how they made bread or use tools like the old blacksmith would do. Also, don’t miss the fun, food and atmosphere of their annual Viking Market, set for 13-15 of August this year.
Viking Museum Ladby | Vikingevej 123, 5300 Kerteminde
Just outside the adorable village of Kerteminde, you can step inside a real Viking burial mound. Walk through the small museum on-site to learn the ritual and tradition behind burying Viking kings with their ship. See examples of their artistry and craftsmanship and the building of ships out in the yard. Then make your way out to the mound and step down inside to see the ship excavation in person.
FUN FACT: The modern “Bluetooth” technology many of us know and love is indeed named after King Harald Bluetooth himself, and the iconic symbol is a combination of the two runes that make up his initials.
Sagnlandet The Land of Legends | Slangealleen 2, 4320 Lejre
Home to the largest Viking longhouse in Denmark, The Land of Legends offers interactive and fun learning about life in the Stone Age, Iron Age and Viking times. Row a wooden boat. Try your hand at archery. See demonstrations of baking and sewing, and smithing. Pack a picnic for this fun day out.
Trelleborg Ring Fortress and Museum | Trelleborg Alle 4, 4200 Slagelse
At the National Museum Trelleborg, you can walk the ramparts of a real Viking fortress and learn about village life in the idyllic Danish countryside. All July and through August 15, visitors can meet “the Vikings” and try their hand at activities and crafts.
Viking Ships Museum | Vindeboder 12, 4000 Roskilde
In Roskilde, you can learn about the Vikings’ seafaring ways and nautical nature at the Vikingeskibs Museet or Ship Museum. Inside, see the remains of excavated vessels from the fjord beyond. Try on some typical Viking garments and learn to write your name in runes. In the shipyard, kids can build their own small boats. Then, in July and early August, book ahead to learn to row a real Viking ship in the sea near the museum.