In Midgard´s Kingdom
What a great nature and location!
Almost right between Horten and Åsgårdstrand is Borre, the viking´s favorite area. It is not hard to understand why the Vikings chose this area as their home when you look at the beautiful nature going down to the Oslo fjord and the fertile soil everywhere you go. The summer of 2013, the Gildehallen opened, and has become one of Vestfold´s most popular attractions.
Midgard historic center and the Borre park
At Borre in Horten county is Midgard historic center, which can offer experiences and activites for all ages. Inside, you can visit exhibitions with original items from the Viking era in Vestfold, as well as see relevant, international exhibitions. If you´re tired of spending the time indoors, we recommend visiting the Midgard´s Viking playground. This is where the young ones can play archeologists and excavate treasures from the ground, or practice their balance through a obstacle run. The older ones can test their bow and arrow skills, or try throwing axes. The whole family can play a log game, how about the children vs. adults? If you want to challenge your tactical skills, we recommend playing the viking´s own board game, Hefnatafl.
The center has a café with a panorama view of the Borre mounds. You can enjoy vaffles or other temptations in the café or on the outside terrace.
Midgard is connected to the Borre park which has North Europe´s largest collection og large mounds from the young iron age (Viking era). The park has seven large mounds, around 40 smaller mounds, three rockeries and two star shaped mounds (“treodder”). It was believed to be all of one family, the Yngling family, that was buried in the mounds, but new research based on DNA analytics, suggests that large grave yards like these usually contains remains from different families. But there are no doubt that there are some very important people of the Viking era buried at Borre.
Just one of the large mounds at Borre is completely excavated, which happened in 1853, and this is where the valuable findings at Borre were found. Many of the items found at Midgard can be seen in the exhibition “Borre in the bay, Borre in the world”. Midgard also exhibits great findings from the iron age in the exhibition “Mounded – the viking´s burials at Gulli” and “There are no borders from space”.
The Borre park is a favored hiking area for the locals, and is great of picnics and trips in summer time. Maybe a little swim is tempting if the weather is hot? Only a short walk between the park from Midgard is between you and the beautiful Borre beach with a view of the Oslo fjord´s outlet!
Explore the Borre park during the Viking era on your iPhone or iPad!
Have you ever wondered what the landscape at the Borre park was like during the Viking era? Download Midgard´s app “Borrehallen” to your iPhone or iPad from App store and experience a virtual Viking era where the Borre hall still stand at its original location, and the sea level is 4 meter higher than today. The app is like a window into the past, and you´ll se an almost identical picture of the virtual and real landscape because of the 3D graphics on the screen.
Photo text: The Gilde hall
Right next to the Midgard historical center is the new kings hall – the Gilde hall. This showpiece of a Viking hall was opened for visitor during the Viking festival, July 6th 2013. The whole building is covered in tree decorated by fantastic carvings. The entrance to the hall is decorated by a carved portal, and inside are four carved poles. The stories are about the Yngling family, born by Gods and giants which in the end takes the throne in their own gilde hall in 822 after Christ. Bjarte Aarseth is an educated carver and works at the Viking ship house in Bygdøy where he recreates wooden Viking art. He constructed and drew the carvings of the gilde hall in Borre.
See the Viking era from the Viking road
No other place is the memories from the Viking era as rich as here in Vestfold. The Viking road in Vestfold is a road leading to both exciting experiences and knowledge.
The Viking road extends from Mølen by Larvik to the Borre mounds and Midgard historical center in Borre, a 37 miles stretch. The memories of the Vikings are everywhere along the Vestfold-ra, the moraine that is left along the coast after the ice withdrew 10.000 years ago. This is where the people settled after the ice disappeared and the land rose. It was easy to cultivate here because of the self-draining soil. It was easy to walk along the moraine, so it became a natural road. It was just as nice to live in Vestfold back then as it is now.
The Viking city of Kaupang
Between Larvik and Sandefjord is Skiringssal-kaupangen, the trading place that is counted as Norway´s first ever city. Today, there are not many visible traces from the city that is a key area of out Viking knowledge. The area where the city of Kaupang used to be is a part of the idyllic Viksfjord today. The area along the Viksfjord is a favored vacation paradise for the 1000 cabins on each side of the fjord. It is easy to imagine why the Vikings liked it here in the beautiful natural area with great soil and easy access to the open ocean.
Between 200 and 500 people lived here during the 800s, and the population could have been closer to 900 in the early 900s. Around year 930, the activates in the area stopped quite sudden, and we don´t know why. After a while, forests grew, and during the medieval ages, the area was used for farming and animal keeping.
The Skiringssal-chief probably lived on a farm with a large chief hall at Huseby, a little north of Kaupang. It is believed that Skiringssal was the viking´s name for Huseby. The Viking city must have developed from the protection and control of the chief. Craftsmen and traders lived in Kaupang. Ships came from north and south to unload and load at the dock. Whetstones and soapstone came from the nearby areas, ceramics, glass, amber from Baltikum or Denmark, and pearls from Asia, the Mid-east and the Mediterranean area. No other place has given us such extensive knowledge about the trading ativites during the Viking era as Kaupang. Today, visitors can learn about Kaupang´s history at the Vestfold museum´s exhibition located there.
Where is the Viking road?
It is the pattern of the mentioned societies we follow when we follow the Viking road. The recent years, the traffic has found new directions, mainly on the inside of the moraine. This is an advantage for those who want to follow the Viking road. The road takes you through coastal nature, beautiful and open culture landscape and an area with little traffic. You can follow the route by car, bicycle, or by foot. The Viking road offers many experiences. You will see large and impressive grave mounds, memories of Norway´s first city, Kaupang, and the places where our most important Viking findings were found. Vestfold county has made an informative brochure about this road that us from Møler, via Kaupang, Istrehågan, Gokstadhaugen, de large grave mounds in Tønsberg, Oseberghaugen and Tønsberg city, before the trip ends in the beautiful Borre park.
Picture Text: the Klåstad ship
Both Sandefjord and Tønsberg has their own replica of the Gokstad ship and the Oseberg ship that sails along the coast of Vestfold, but it isn´t common knowledge that Vestfold has an original Viking ship exhibited in the county! The trading ship from Klåstad is actually the only preserved ship exhibited outside of Oslo. The Klåstad ship was excavated in Tjølling around 1970, and is exhibited in the Slottsfjell museum in Tønsberg. In the Viking hall inside the Slottsfjell museum is also the history of the Oseberg finding, the grave ship with Europe´s larges Viking finding, found 3 kilometers north of Tønsberg´s center. The original Viking ships, the Oseberg ship and the Gokstad ship is exhibited in the Viking ship museum in Oslo.
A battle could begin in different ways. It could be a planned battle where they prepared and made plans before hand, but a battle could also happen by two groups “bumping into each other”.
The Borre park
Saga Oseberg is a full siza copy of the Oseberg ship from Tønsberg in Vestfold, built in 2011-2012 by the foundation New Oseberg Ship. The construction site was right outside Oseberg´s culture building in Tønsberg. The contruction was done as extensive and detailed as possible, with materials and techniques that were used when the original ship was made in year 820.
The Gilde hall is a great contruction, based on the Viking era´s construction techniques.
The Gokstad ship and its 23 meters makes the longest Viking ship found in Norway. Here is the copy, Gaia, sailing next to the Vesterøya in Sandefjord.
The Viking era was one of the most expansive and innovative eras in the history of the Nordic countries. The plundering and wars lead the Vikings all the way to America, Greenland, and all corners of Europe, and even further.
Strategem on the battlefield
The Vikings used stratagem on the battlefields. They often split the army in half before they met the enemy. One half were hiding while the others appeared to be weakened. When the fight started, the hidden part attacked the opponents from behind.
The culture heritage is brought forward. A meeting of modern Vikings at the Gokstad mound by Sandefjord.
In the park, outside of the museum are many activities to chose from. Among those are throwing of axes, shooting with a bow and arrow lead by an instructor.
The berserks are referred to as horrible enemies to run into. Is is said that they were so high on the desire to fight that they bit their shields, attacked rocks and trees, and they even killed each other waiting for the battles to begin.
Schools often visit the Saga in Oseberg.
The viking´s ravages were feared all over the world.
No matter how much you practiced, a status as a warrior had to be earned on the battlefield.
The Viking ship
The ship was the most potent symbol of power, and the most important way of transport during the Viking era. The ship was one of the most important prerequisites of political power and prestige, which in many cases was based on the control of the ocean.
The sail revolutionized the Viking ship
The use of sails made it possible to sail the open sea, and it opened the way to the countries in the North sea for the Vikings. It is believed that the sail has been used some places from as early as the 600s, and by the mid 700s, it was common in many places. By using a sail, they could get to the countries that used to be out of reach. You can see Gaia (the Gokstad ship copy) sailing between the island of Veierland and Sandefjord´s mainland in the picture.
The Vikings had a nice view of the Oslo fjord from the beautiful area we called the Borre park today.
The city of Kaupang was an idyllic place next to Viksfjord in Tjølling. The beautiful nature is now used for vacation and cabins.
The Viking county of Vestfold
All the most famous Viking ships found in Norway, were found in Vestfold.