About The Skidbladner
Originally built in Sweden, intended for the United States, and now residing in the Shetland Islands, The Skidbladner is a full size replica of the Gokstad ship which was found in a Viking burial mound in Norway in 1880.
History of The Skidbladner
The Gokstad ship was built around the year 890 AD during the busy and seafaring Viking Age. It is thought to have been built during the reign of Harald Fairhar, who is said to have landed in Unst, and after whom the bay of Haroldswick is named.
It was discovered by two farm boys on a farm who dug into a large burial mound called ‘the king’s mound’ when they were bored one autumn. The fascinating ship was excavated and later restored, its parts dismantled, steamed, and bent back to their original shape. This has allowed replicas like The Skidbladner to be constructed.
The ship would have originally been used for a variety of purposes including trade, warfare, and general travel. This would have been facilitated by it being constructed in the clinker fashion, where each plank is slightly tapered, overlapping the plank above and being held in place with iron rivets, which made her light and flexible.
Shetland Amenity Trust aquired the Skidblader in 2006 when it became a fixture at Brookpoint in Haroldswick. The ship is an impressive sight and has proved a popular visitor attraction.
The Skidbladner Today
Today, visitors can board the ship and feel what it was like to have been aboard a Viking vessel, with living history demonstrations in the summer enhancing the experience. While you’re in the area, take a look at the reconstructed Viking longhouse right next to the ship, which offers a fascinating insight into the methods used to create such buildings.
Getting to The Skidbladner
From the centre of Unst, the scenic drive to Haroldswick will take you about 5 minutes via the A968. By foot, it takes around an hour by the same road. The 28 bus will take you to a stop called ‘Village’, from where the site takes 9 or so minutes.
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