Yesterday, Friday, we got an early start; we had big plans for the day. We started by driving south along the eastern shoreline of Roskilde Fjord, stopping at the town of Frederikssund to visit the recreated Viking village there.
In the USA, we think of Vikings as seaborne raiders that raped and pillaged along the English and European coasts during the medieval ages. But the word, “Viking,” actually refers to all peoples of Scandinavia (modern day Denmark, Norway and Sweden) living from 800 A.D. to 1100 A.D., not just the warriors. And, contrary to common belief, not all Vikings were plunderers. In fact, many were simple farmers or craftsmen who lived in villages and engaged in trade around the world, though, on occasion, they might go “í viking,” that is, “plundering,” to gain enough to buy a farm.
The Viking scene in Frederikssund consists of just a wharf and a few buildings: five pit houses and a single longhouse (these buildings are recreations based on archeological evidence).
The longhouse was where the Vikings lived, sometimes sectioning off part of the structure as a stable. Some longhouses functioned as halls for social gatherings, though these might be much larger, as big as 150 feet long by 35 feet wide. The residential longhouse here in Frederikssund is much smaller than that:
The smaller, pit houses, would have been used as workshops or temporary shelters. They all had two common features: they were dug into the earth, normally about 3 feet deep, for insulation; and, they had crossed beams to support the roof. Many were made of wattle and daub (lattice made of sticks, plastered with mud), like the two you can see in this picture…
…but they were also built of wood when available, like this one:
As we wandered around these structures, trying to imagine what it would have been like to work and live in buildings like these during the Nordic winter, we noticed the roofs: thatch and sod, just like many of the buildings we cycled past on our ride along the beach the other day!
Some things never change. Now, we just need to figure out where that stone roof got its start.