A ship worthy of a Viking raid

A full-size replica of one of the biggest Viking warships known to have sailed the high seas is to be launched Saturday near Copenhagen during a two-day festival that Denmark's Queen Margrethe II is expected to attend.

Reconstruction of the nearly 100-foot-long Skuldelev 2, which was built in the 11th century near Dublin, Ireland, took four years. Museum officials say it is the largest such reconstruction ever undertaken.

From the 9th to 11th centuries, wooden ships such as the Skuldelev 2 carried Scandinavian Vikings, also known as Norsemen, on pirate raids and ambitious worldwide explorations, including Leif Ericson's voyage to America in 1000.

The original vessel was held together with thousands of hand-forged iron rivets and carried a crew of 60 to 100. The vessel was deliberately scuttled, historians said, along with four other Viking ships, in Roskilde Fiord around 1070 to protect Roskilde, then the capital of Denmark. Remains of all five are displayed at the museum.

Only about a fourth of the original Skuldelev 2 structure was salvaged, said Martin Brandt Djupdraet, museum curator, who thinks the replica is accurate, based on work the museum has done reconstructing other Viking ships.

Craftspeople have tried to duplicate the original building methods for the oak ship, using replicas of Viking Age tools such as axes, planes, chisels and knives. No pigment remains on the original vessel, so they have relied on colors in the Bayeux Tapestry, which depicts the Norman conquest of England in 1066.

Only invited guests will sail on the Skuldelev 2 replica next weekend. "Next year, we will likely do some sailing where the public can be on board," Djupdraet said.

There will be plenty of other special activities for visitors Sept. 4 and 5: museum tours, craft demonstrations, a Viking-style market and music. The Skuldelev 2's maiden voyage is scheduled for 4:30 p.m. Saturday.

Entrance to the museum, in Roskilde, a suburb of Copenhagen, is usually about $12 for adults and $5.65 for children ages 4 to 15 through September; it is less in winter. Next weekend, admission will be reduced to about $8 adults, $3.25 children. The museum is open 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily except some holidays.

Information: 011-45-46-300-200 or visit . (Select your language from a drop-down menu on the home page.)