Viking Voyage Revisited, Minus the Pillaging

The 100-foot Sea Stallion is a replica of the Viking ship believed to have been built in 1042 in Glendalough, Ireland. <br>Photo: Bjarke Orsted

DUBLIN, Ireland--Spectators cheered and ships blew their horns as the replica Viking ship "Stallion of the Sea" drew into Dublin's harbor, capping a 1,700-kilometer (1,000-mile) journey across the waters of northern Europe.

The 65-member crew was overjoyed after a six-week voyage that had taken them from Scandinavia, around Scotland and into the Irish Sea, where they faced violent waters and high winds.

"Of course we're happy," Capt. Poul Nygaard told The Associated Press in a telephone interview. "Tonight we will be celebrating in an Irish pub."

Although intended to simulate the conditions of a Viking voyage from Scandinavia to Ireland, the ship carried some decidedly un-Viking-like equipment--a support ship, global positioning systems, radar, radio, life jackets, survival gear and satellite weather forecasts.

The crew has also been blogging from the boat, whose progress well-wishers could follow using satellite imagery by Google Earth.

The initial plan was to travel nonstop from Roskilde to Dublin relying only on the wind and raw rowing power--like Viking warriors did 1,000 years ago. But when the winds were not cooperative, the crew stowed their oars and had their vessel towed 555 kilometers (345 miles) across the North Sea.

Nevertheless, the experiment has successfully proven the seaworthiness of Viking vessels, said Anton Englert, a curator at the Viking Ship Museum in Roskilde, where the original is on display. He said it would have been too difficult--and dangerous--to completely recreate the original sea crossing.

"We modern people cannot in the course of one summer season make up for the navigational experience and feeling of weather-hardened Viking Age professionals," he said in an e-mail.

The 30-meter (100-foot) Stallion is a replica of the Viking ship believed to have been built in 1042 in Glendalough, Ireland. It was built by craftsmen using Viking-era tools.

Englert said the ship's arrival in Ireland would close an archaeological circle, returning a copy of the ship to where the original was made.

The replica will be kept at the National Museum of Ireland, which is dedicating a special exhibition to the Sea Stallion before it sails back to Denmark next year.

Vikings began crisscrossing European waters in the eighth century in search of trade and plunder. Experts have long wondered at their navigational prowess.

The ship's crew hails from Britain, Ireland, the United States, Germany, Australia and Scandinavia. Its trip has taken it around Jutland to the Orkney Islands, north of Scotland, and down the Irish Sea to Dublin.

For more information, visit the Sea Stallion from Glendalough 2007 ( ), and the National Museum of Ireland ( ) websites.

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