WHAT THE MOULD WAS HIDING…
The main attraction at the Viking Museum Ladby is the Viking Ship Grave. Also referred to as the ‘Ladby Ship’, it was found in 1935 along with 11 smaller graves, which contained various grave goods. Archaeological studies have established that, in or around 925 AD, the Viking ship was pulled ashore and the deceased king was then buried in it in a mound with his horses, dogs and other precious belongings.
As you enter the burial mound and things get darker, you immediately sense the very special atmosphere of the Ladby King’s grave. Once your eyes have got used to the darkness, you catch your first sight of the burial ship and its shape and structure, including the 2,000+ nails and spikes that hold it together.
The ship is almost 22 metres long and about 3 metres wide. It was built for 30-32 oarsmen and was fitted with a sail. Nothing of the sail or mast remains, but 7 rigging rings roughly in the middle of the ship along the supposed gunwale indicate that the ship was seaworthy. It is estimated that the sail was 60 m2.
The prow was shaped like a dragon’s head with a main of iron curls, and the aft stern was a curved dragon’s tail. The ship’s incredibly well-preserved anchor and anchor chain, and remnants of rigging are located at the prow. The ship also contains the remains of the horses and dogs that accompanied the king on his final voyage.
The ship grave contains a variety of offerings and belongings. Most notable are the horse and dog bones in the ship’s prow. There are a total of 11 horse skeletons, and probably 4-5 dogs. The horses are similar to today’s Icelandic horses. One of them stands out, being the only one equipped with a harness. Studies of teeth and bones indicate that the dogs were of different sizes.
More than 600 items or fragments of items were found in the ship grave. The most distinctive items include a silver belt buckle, fragments of a silver plate, a bronze dish, fittings and a bronze clasp for a gilded dog lead and parts of the deceased’s splendid clothing with its interwoven gold thread. Other items include spurs and stirrups, a shield boss, an axe and a bundle of 45 arrowheads.