The Ladby Tapestry - a very long story
The Ladby Tapestry is a 7-metre-long embroidery work, which tells the story of the Ladby Ship, Denmark’s only known Viking ship grave. The tapestry is based partly on the discovery of the Ladby Ship in 1934 and partly on Norse mythology and the encounter between the ancient belief in the Norse gods and Christianity. It is structured as 7 stories, which you can read from one end to the other like a comic strip. The centrepiece of the tapestry recounts the story of the Ladby Ship, while the two friezes at the top and bottom are about shipbuilding in the Viking Age.
The Ladby Tapestry is a permanent exhibit at the Viking Museum Ladby. In addition to the tapestry in all its glory, you can see examples of fabric samples and watch a film about the creation of the tapestry. In the ‘coffee table book’, you can find out about various technical details, learn more about the story and meet the embroiderers. A beautiful catalogue was published to accompany the exhibition and is for sale in the museum shop. You can also buy a leaflet in Danish, English, German and French, which tells you all about the work on the tapestry. You can also buy a colouring book, in which you can colour illustrations from the tapestry. Postcards featuring the tapestry’s seven stories are also for sale in the shop.
Number of sewing hours
Shoulder by shoulder, they created the ladby tapestry
In 2011, inspired by the famous Bayeux tapestry, which relates the story of the Battle of Hastings in 1066, a group of female sewing enthusiasts set out to embroider a tapestry that would tell the story of the Ladby Ship. They established a tapestry guild consisting of 16 embroiderers, the designer Gudrun Katrine Heltoft and Anette Nørgaard Bogulski who dyed the yarn with natural vegetable dyes in a multitude of delicate colours.
It took the embroiderers six years to complete the tapestry, which is 7 metres long and 50 cm high. To be precise, the last stitch was done on 8 July 2017. The work on the tapestry took place ‘live’ in a room at the Viking Museum. The embroiderers sat shoulder to shoulder with the tapestry on their laps, so throughout the entire process visitors to the museum could watch them at work.
The Ladby Tapestry reads like a comic strip - the centrepiece tells the story of the Ladby Ship. The friezes at the top and bottom show how a Viking ship was built and how the sail and rigging were made. The shipbuilding is interwoven with mythological figures, burial gifts and contemporary detector finds. Finally, we see the tapestry’s artist, the dyer and the embroiderers.