On July 2, a group of Danish sailors will embark on a pioneering expedition using a ship similar to the ones the Vikings used to explore Greenland’s south and west coasts.
The eight men and women – all experienced sailors – are connected to the Viking Ship Museum in Roskilde.
The six-week voyage aims to shed light on important questions about the Scandinavians who 1,000 years ago settled in the distant country that Erik the Red dubbed ‘Greenland’.
A trip through time
The crew, led by skipper Ole Sand, will collect data connected to the navigation of the 1,000 km journey. The hope is that the data will help researchers and historians learn more about the challenges of sailing around Greenland’s coast using sails and oars.
“The settlements were all along the coast,” Morten Ravn from the Viking Ship Museum told Metroxpress. “The waterways are the best way to investigate them. If we find out more about them, we will also find out more about the society at the time.”
The crew will set sail in an 11-metre wooden vessel, ‘Skjoldungen’, which is a reconstruction of the shipwrecked ‘Skuldelev 6’ that was salvaged from Roskilde Fjord.
Years of training
That ship was originally built in western Norway around the year 1030, and it was probably used for local travel, fishing and hunting in Greenland.
The crew has been training in Roskilde Fjord and Danish and Swedish waters for the past two years.
“We have been preparing for any eventuality, including taking medical training, rescue exercises and even shooting practice should we encounter polar bears,” said Sand.
Shipping a ship on a ship
The shipping company Royal Arctic Line will carry Skjoldungen to Nanortalik in southern Greenland, where the expedition will start on July 2 and head northwest towards Greenland’s capital, Nuuk.