The Viking Museum at Ladby - History and Facts | History Hit

The Viking Museum at Ladby

Lille Viby, Region of Southern Denmark, Denmark

The Viking Museum at Ladby displays a tenth century Viking burial ship.

Peta Stamper

06 May 2021
Image Credit: Shutterstock

About The Viking Museum at Ladby

The Viking Museum at Ladby in Denmark houses the Ladby Burial Ship, a Viking ship grave found there in 1935. Dating back to around 925 AD, it is believed that the ship is the burial site of a prince or other leader, such as a chieftain. The Ladby Burial Ship was hauled to the top of the hill and filled with burial goods such as valuables and even animals.

Displaying the Ladby Burial Ship amidst a series of other excavation finds, the Viking Museum at Ladby offers an insight into the history of the Vikings and their lives in the area.

The Viking Museum at Ladby history

The Viking ship in Ladby contained the grave of an unknown leader, chieftain or king from the early 10th century AD. A massive dragon ship measuring 21.5 metres by 3 metres was filled with burial goods, the nobleman’s 3 or 4 dogs and 11 horses. To be buried in such an impressive ship was a marker of power and glory, and would have taken a great amount of man-power to drag the ship up from the fjord.

The burial site was covered by an oval earth mound to create a visible reminder to those travelling by of the power of the person buried there. However, the grave was plundered during the late Viking era. To damage the grave and much of its contents was an act of disrespect to whoever had been buried there.

The Ladby ship was re-discovered in 1935 by a Danish pharmacist Poul Helweg Mikkelsen. The Danish National Museum conservator Gustav Rosenberg recorded the initial primary-source information. A concrete dome was constructed to protect the ship’s imprint and a concrete floor laid down to prevent moisture from the ground.

The ship was given to the National Museum which have the site to the Department of Archaeology and Landscape in 1994. The Viking Museum at Ladby was built around the Ladby ship in 2007.

The Viking Museum at Ladby today

Today, open from 10am to 4pm Tuesday through Sunday, the Viking Museum at Ladby displays many of the findings from the ship site alongside an interactive narrative of the Vikings who would have inhabited Funen. What remains of the Ladby ship is some 2,000 rivets and the imprint left by the planks – the wood having rotted away long ago – surrounded by a glass case and darkly lit for preservation which also helps create a feeling of awe.

Beyond seeing the excavated ship itself, the museum also offers a chance to see a reconstructed ship at the time of burial, even with the dead chieftain on a bed surrounded by his dogs, horses and grave goods.

Stop to watch the interpretive film about the Vikings’ beliefs and rituals surrounding death, unpacking Norse mythology and exploring the images found on the Gotlandic Picture Stones.

Getting to The Viking Museum at Ladby

Located on the shore of the Kerteminde Fjord, the Viking Museum at Ladby is found just off the 315 at Skrækkenborg, and is a 2 hour drive from Copenhagen via the E20. For those using public transport, the 482 from Odense bus stops outside the museum. 

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