The Oseberg ship was discovered at the Oseberg mound close to Tønsberg in 1903 and was excavated the following year. It was brought to the Viking ship museum in 1926 and has since been admired and studied by people from all over the world.
Dating of the wood of the ship has shown that it was built in the year 820 AD and was buried 14 years later in 834 AD. The ship itself is made almost exclusively from oak and is over 20 meters long and 5 meters wide, weighing in at a total of around 11 tons. Because of the rich decorations adorning the ship’s bow and stern and the way the ship itself is constructed it has been theorised that the Oseberg ship was intended as a show of means rather than might and used for sailing along the coasts instead of out at sea.
The skeletal remains of two women were found in a burial chamber close to the ship’s mast. They were buried with many valuable items such as a wagon, beds, equipment, clothes, pearls of glass, carved animal heads, food items, several animals and much more. DNA testing of the two have yet to yield any answers, but the oldest of the two women were around 80 years old and the youngest around 50 when they died. It has been speculated a great deal around who these women were, but one or both must have been important members of their society to be buried so elaborately.
Saga Oseberg is a reconstruction of the Oseberg ship, and the project was intended to answer several questions. Whether the ship was able to sail or simply intended as a grave was among them. To find answers several accurate measurements and scans were made of the original Oseberg ship, and the results created the foundation of the construction of Saga Oseberg.
The ship was also built using replica tools from the same era of the original ship and with the same materials. Every plank on the Saga Oseberg has been hewn and shaped by hand using Viking age tools. Saga Oseberg was built under the Tønsberg sky and anyone who wished to help were welcome to do so, which means that Saga Oseberg is a result of a large-scale cooperation.
King Harald V of Norway said in his speech during the unveiling that “We now have a new Oseberg ship which is more like the original than the original itself is”. When the ship was finished there was no doubt that it was a very fine sailor capable even of going out to sea which was proved by an expedition to Roskilde in 2015.