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Ever since the show Vikings aired on Netflix, I’ve been interested in how these people lived during those earlier centuries. I wondered if it’s possible to visit a museum or place dedicated to a Vikings life.
It turns out there is one, which is the Lofotr Viking Museum in Borg, Norway. A visit to this museum on the island of Vestvågøya is a fascinating trip. As it allows you to experience the infamous Vikings’ way of life. And perhaps become one yourself if you choose. (Or at least learn how to throw an ax, as the mighty Vikings once did)
A Brief History Of The Museum
The people behind the museum built it on an actual archaeological site. It dates back to centuries ago, while the museum itself was built in 1995.
As you enter the place, you’ll notice that they put a lot of effort in creating and restoring the site. There’s even the smell of smoke and tar-like an actual Viking village.
Part of it is because the museum is built based on experimental archaeology. What that means is they use materials found on the site to recreate how a group of people lived during that age.
Hence the full-scale reconstruction and exact replicas throughout the museum. They are made of various architecture representing the Viking age.
Also, the museum and the current modern longhouse is built on what was once the location of a local Viking chieftain’s home.
You’ll appreciate the architecture and the carvings in the museum as well as the handicraft. Even the air is different, as you can smell the iron smelting from a bloomery.
Plus, the dry stone walls in the landscape surrounding the Chieftains house adds authenticity and realism to the place.
There are even various actors employed to make the place seem more like the home of a Viking.
You get to see how a powerful and wealthy chieftain runs their community, and how Vikings lived in the past, among other activities.
What Are The Activities To Do In The Museum
The museum is quite a big place to visit. And you can expect to spend at least three hours here. One of the things you can do is explore a Viking ship near the fjord, to name a few.
The longhouse itself is the largest Viking longhouse in the world and is reconstructed full scale.
The structure is about 83 meters long and a sight to behold on its own. The house is an example of how an influential and powerful chieftain would live in this northern part of Norway.
Every thought is put out in detail to make the museum a living museum. So you can live out the glorious Viking days when you visit.
You’ll find the details in the decoration as you enter the mead hall, the intricacies of the handcrafts used during the Viking age. Walking down the corridors, you’ll even find oil lamps that are used to light the halls.
The oil used is even made the Viking way, with seal and whale blubber melted down in a pit. The museum curators went out of their way to let you experience the daily life of Vikings.
There are also modern and beautiful exhibits that you can view, that showcases the hundreds of years of history of the Vikings.
You’ll also find an exhibition on costumes from the Viking age such as the Skjoldehamn costume. You can even find archaeological finds of the site. Such as items from the Merovingian Period.
You can rent an audio guide that comes in multiple languages including English, to understand the various exhibits. There’s even a film to view on Viking history, which is about 20 mins and is called “The Dream Of Borg”.
There are workers there in the longhouses. And a reenactment of traditional Viking life can be seen. You’ll see people weaving and chopping wood to making weapons and the like.
For those with a mobility issue, the museum is wheelchair accessible. Although some areas like the longhouse are harder to navigate, employees are always around to lend a hand.
The museum not only offers insights on Viking artifacts but also on how they used to dine.
A food researcher was given the task of recreating this experience for visitors, from the specific food to the tableware the Vikings used.
You can taste samples or partake in a true Viking feast.
This Viking meal comes with delicious hot soup from the cauldron. You can also try drinking mead from a goblet. Mead is spiced alcohol made from honey. A favorite drink of the Vikings.
For the main course, taste wild boar and lamb with some fish, while listening to actors in Viking costumes tell their tales while you dine.
There are even a Viking chieftain and his family to welcome you as well.
If you’d like to have a little bit of fun, participate in the act. A little bit of role-playing is encouraged.
And sometimes, a lucky bachelor from the audience will be made to marry the Chieftains’ sister-in-law. So be ready for that!
After your hearty meal, listen to traditional Viking songs and watch the actors dance a traditional ring dance. If you’re light on your feet, do join in the fun with the Vikings.
And it’s not only the inside of the museum that’s interesting. Step outside, and you’ll find a life-sized Viking ship named Gokstad, which is an actual ship from the 9th century.
Also, in the outdoor area, you can see how husbandry would have been like in that century.
All sorts of animals from chicken, pigs, and other farm animals are on the grounds surrounding the museum. It’s fun for the kids to see.
The museum also has a modern cafe and souvenir shop for visitors, if you need a break from all that history.
Opening Times Of The Museum And Best Times To Go
The museum opens all year long. Although the opening times will vary according to the time of the year. It generally begins from 10 am to 12 pm. You can find the current schedule here https://www.museumnord.no/en/lofotr-viking-museum/
Although the exhibitions are always open throughout the year, some of the more exciting activities are done in summer.
These activities usually happen in June and August. This is where you can test your skills in various Viking related activities.
Vikings used to throw axes at enemies in battle. How about you have a go at it and test your mettle?
There are ax throwing events, archery lessons and also if you’re feeling adventurous, row an actual Viking boat.
The month of August has more exciting activities for visitors. Immerse yourself in a recreation of Viking daily life.
For five excitement filled days, there will be games, markets, and booths set up to make you experience life in the past.
See concerts and participate in various workshops. Feast as the Vikings do and witness first hand how Vikings used to do battle.
After all that excitement, wind down and relax at the Skjeltersjåen café with a light snack and drink. The views here are amazing.
Getting To The Museum
The museum is located in Borg. It is north of Bostad. It is situated on the E10, between Leknes and Svolvær. There are speedboats and ferries as well to go there.
You can rent a car and drive there. It’s a treat, as you get to see beautiful scenery getting there. With the landscape being the hills and lakes of the Lofoten islands.
You can park at the nearby modern Borg church once you’ve arrived.
Public buses run near the museum. With the closest stop being at Bøstad. Bus lines that run through there are the ones between Leknes and Slovlvaer.
You can also use the bus the museum provides which takes passengers at the pier in Stamsund Hurtigruten.
For those who are flying in, the nearest airport would be Svolvær and Leknes.
The Souvenir Shop
The souvenir shop has a bunch of neat things you can take home. It has a nice selection, and the price is not too high.
There’s a toy section for children. From wooden swords and shields to brain-teasing puzzles. The kids can become mini Vikings for the day.
If you love board games and have never heard of the board game Hnefatafl, you can purchase one here and learn a new skill. This is an ancient board game of Nordic and Celtic origin which predates chess.
T-shirts and various textiles are found here as with most souvenir shops. Also, historical costume jewelry can be bought here.
There are numerous books on Viking history, souvenir mugs, and replicas from the Viking age.
Some locally made foodstuff like jams and seasonings are also for sale.
Anyone can visit the shop even without a museum entry ticket. And it’s open during the museum operating hours.
The Price Of Admission
The entrance fee to the museum is cheaper during the winter and autumn season. With adult tickets costing USD 20 and children who are above six years old around USD 15.
During the summer months the ticket price increases to USD 23 and child ticket prices about USD 17. Kids below 6 are free anytime.
The depiction of Viking life in modern media makes them interesting and full of intrigue. And as you can see, a visit to the Lofotr Viking Museum is not be missed when you visit Norway.
So bring your whole family to this epic museum, featuring real-life saga of the Viking age. And have fun!