Roskilde, I am a Shield Maiden!, Saturday, August 6, 2016
Our buddy, Rick Steves, said it was an easy train ride to Roskilde 30 miles from Copenhagen. Ok, Rick-o, we have a little trouble finding the correct train, there are so many choices! However, after some serious trudging up and down several sets of stairs in the train station, we get some help. I am the first to ask someone for directions and help, I have to keep telling myself not to try to act like a guy. There’s no virtue in NOT asking for directions. I have to override my sweet manly man and just ask before we get too frustrated trying to figure things out ourselves. Complete strangers have been very helpful and friendly when I ask them for directions.
It was a short twenty minute train to the much smaller town of Roskilde. I had read that there was a market day on the day we planned to arrive. It wasn’t large, but it was fun to see. Handmade crafts and some second hand booths made up most of the market. The “on again, off again” rain had lots of shop keepers on the streets moving goods from the sidewalk and then back into their shops.
The Roskilde Cathedral is a UNESCO listed site, and we were looking forward to seeing it. The outside is impressive, built of brick and with massive, beautiful doors. It was built in the 12-13th centuries and houses the tombs of 39 Danish monarchs. I have to admit to being disappointed that we can’t go in because there are several weddings today. (Can’t I have a peak in between ceremonies?). We pass a big white tent where a reception is going on and I relax my grimace a little bit. I’ll bet it’s a gorgeous church to be married in.
By the time we get to the shoreline from the train station, we are famished. We find a very modern restaurant that serves “New Nordic” food, Snekken. The location is perfect, on the water, and they have blankets draped on the backs of the chairs on the deck (as so many Scandinavian restaurants do, so smart.) I have “Danish tapas”: herring and capers, salmon and sea buckthorn, potato and bacon, organic sausage and pickled red onion and cheese and AMAZING bread. I was afraid that it would be a huge meal, but the portions were itty-bitty and it was great to have a taste of so many things. The beer was nice too. Mmmmm.
Fueled up, Barry and I go to the Viking Ship Museum. It’s a kid magnet! I am so impressed with the fun activities for kids. They make rope, make a shield, walk a labyrinth, try viking games that are set up on the lawns, dress up like Vikings and more! You can even take a Viking ship out to sail with a group. Which we will do next time!
Of course the major reason to be there is to see the ships in the museum. Five eleventh century ships were sunk in Roskilde Fjord in about 1070 to help protect the town from an enemy attack. Further excavations are ongoing, with multiple other Viking craft found in the area. I was interested in the artifacts that were used in making the sails. They weaved flax on large looms to make the sails.
The TV show, The Vikings, peaked my interest in learning more about the Vikings. From the little bit of research that I did, I find it very surprising to learn that they were very concerned about dying well – in battle, the bloodier the better. It appears that dying quietly in your sleep is for wuzzes, they go to hell along with the thieves and liars. Only the bad-asses get to Valhalla. Viking mythology has several gods of war. In fact, the Goddess of Love, Fertility and Beauty is also a Goddess of War. So, as we all know, women are bad-asses too. Recent archaeological work has found that there were substantial numbers of ladies’ bones – with their weapons – in with the bones of men at Viking battle scenes. I feel the call of the shield maiden, it’s not to late to be a grandma Viking!
I am behind, so keeping it brief … We had a little bit of an adventure finding the right train, but we did find our way to Roskikde.
This commendable museum displays several real Viking ships that were intentionally sunk as a defensive move by the Vikings who ruled here. They also have replicas of Viking ships. Being a huge fan of the Vikings tv show, I could really get into this! Adding to the fun, there are classes such as rope making, and they have folks building replica ships, and tons of stuff for kids to do! So fun!