A STAGING OF POWER
Power was something to be staged – even in death. Today, at the Viking Museum Ladby, you can see two entire graves of personages from the upper echelons of the powerful Viking elite. The finds from the ship grave reveal that a powerful person was buried at Ladby in or around 925 AD. It was essential for a noble person – in this case, the Ladby King – to arrive in the afterlife encompassed by all the trappings of his rank. We see this not only in the ship grave at Ladby, but also in the Rosenlund grave, which archaeologists found at Langeskov in 1978 during the construction of a motorway across Funen. Here, a nobleman, perhaps a vassal of the king, was buried with his magnificent weapons and splendid riding gear. The grave dates back to the latter half of the 10th century.
In addition to being buried in his warship, which was a privilege reserved for kings and princes, the finds from the Ladby King’s grave mainly consist of riding gear such as bridles and stirrups, including parts of the Ladby King’s personal riding gear. There are also dog harnesses, including a well-preserved, gilded bronze clasp for a dog lead and the chieftain’s personal baton. Funny enough, he also had a board game with him. There is also a variety of iron equipment from the ship, including the so-called mane curls that adorned the dragon’s head on the ship’s prow.
The finds from both the Ladby Ship grave and the Rosenlund grave feature in the permanent exhibition in the basement.
The Dead Ship - The King of Ladby's final voyage
What exactly was the process like 1,000 years ago when a king was buried in his ship in a field near Ladby ready to embark on the final voyage? The Dead Ship exhibition, a reconstruction of the funeral day, provides us with a qualified estimate. The Dead Ship evolved from everything we know from the excavation of the Ladby Ship and the grave goods that were originally placed in it.
We are back in 925 AD. At one end of the ship we see the Ladby King lying on his splendid bed. In front of him, amidships, are the horses and dogs that accompanied him to the afterlife. The entire scene is attended by an entourage of mourners. The whole setting is rounded off by the huge landscape painting on the back wall, the work of the artist Ole Vedby Jørgensen. The Ladby King, the mourners, the horses and the dogs were made by the woodcarver Povl Kjer.