The Norwegian Folk Museum

It was basically a 1.5 day drive from Stockholm to Oslo, via the Air Force Museum (see last post) in Linkoping … so I arrived in Oslo early(ish) on that second day and immediately went to Bygdoy, a peninsula about 5 klicks from downtown Oslo where there are a whole lot of Museums … and spent the rest of the afternoon having a look around.

The museum, like Skansen in Stockholm, has structures from all over Norway and from all periods from the 13th century through to the 1950s or so … and, given that the climatic conditions are virtually identical, so are the structures.

This a Byre from the medieval street – typical of the sort of buildings built during the 13th-15th centuries. This would have belonged to a big and better off farm/farmer as the logs forming the walls are a) on a stone base to keep them from rot and b) stripped of bark and squared off.
The Interior of the right (East, I think) wing of the Farmhouse on the opposite side of the street – also a cut above what would have been normal with all those furnishings! Though, as you can see, still with no chimney – just a central fireplace and a hole in the roof with a cunning arrangement to allow the smoke to escape through vents without letting the rain or snow in.
Like I said, a cut above. Separate beds and other high status furniture. The glass in the window is, of course, a much much later inclusion. Originally there would have been a holein the wall with a shutter and, possibly, a horn or oiled parchment ‘window’
Other farm buildings across the street – with, as is common in Scandinavia, roofs of birch bark strips with sod over to provide waterproofing and water absorbency … as well as a degree of insulation.
Some farmhouses and other farm buildings had a projecting to provide some shelter from rain/snow … others had a narrow covered and walled passage running along the main side of the structure facing the farmyard (or, in the case, the street they have been placed on). Inside, however, there are no corridors until much later … rooms open on rooms as is common throughout medieval Europe.
One of the relatively few wooden stave churches that have survived … of in excess of 300 I believe that there are now only around 40 or so left. These were some of the very first churches after Christianity arrived and became the dominant religion and were mostly built, and owned, by local magnates … one of the reasons for the low rate of survival.
The Interior and the Altar – the wall paintings are original and, though faded and somewhat damaged by age, are still easily visible and discernible … but the lighting inside was terrible and, of course, no Flash allowed.
A more typical rural structure, very much like a US-style Log Cabin – this was a Woodsman’s Hut and remained a common style throughout the medieval period and beyond, especially in rural and remote areas.

The Viking Ship Museum

The next day I headed back to Bygdoy and went to the Viking Ship Museum which was literally less than a half a klick down the road from the Folk Museum.

The first of the three ships held in the Museum. This is probably the best preserved (though not by much) and is definitely a warship … and probably not designed for long ocean voyages, so probably a coastal warship.
The stern and steering oar of the above, from above.
The second ship, from above. Not quite as well preserved, with a wider beam and likely a merchant vessel of sorts … certainly an ocean going vessel.
One of the famous Viking era wheeled carts found with one of the ship burials – the highly carved and decorated bodywork indicate that this was never intended to be a mere farm cart, but the prestige transportation of a local notable for use on special occasions.
There were also some sleds in the same burial as the cart – and they, too, were obviously intended to be prestige vehicles.

Where’s the third ship, you ask? Well, two things, it is kept in a section of the building that was kept very dark, so there was no way I could get a picture (no flash) and, in any case, it’s the least well preserved, by far … just the twisted timbers and part of the keel, barely recognisable as a boat.


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