Some weeks ago, I decided to build the Seastallion from Glendalough (or in Danish, which I will use as the name henceforth) Havhingsten fra Glendalough from Lego.
Here’s a link to a video on how to build it.
What is Havhingsten fra Glendalough?
Havhingsten fra Glendalough is a replica of a Viking ship of the Skuledev II type found in 1962 in Roskilde. This is type of Viking war ship which was built around 1042 in Glendalough near Dublin, Ireland. The construction of Havhingsten took place from 2000 to 2004 in the shipyard of the Viking Ship Museum in Roskilde, Denmark. The reconstruction used Viking methods and tools, which might surprise less informed people by their sophistication, if you can use that word for axes and other wood cutting tools. Most people think Vikings were wild, uncivilized warriors, but in fact they were much more than that. They were a very clean people (by early medieval standards) with a rich ornamental culture in their clothing and other day-to-day items and religious artefacts. They also were widely travelled tradesmen; Oriental coins have been found in Viking ship burials. Also, did you know that the word “welcome” came to the English language from Old Norse, the language of the Vikings? I wouldn’t call that a savage word. AND THEY NEVER HAD HORNED HELMETS, just to make that clear once and for all. Blame Swedish romanticists and popular culture for that. Okay, back to Havhingsten: Even if you haven’t seen an authentic Viking ship before, maybe you know the Bayeux Tapestry, which was embroidered only about 30 years after Skuledev 2 was built. There are depictions of Norman ships in that, which are very similar to Viking ships. Probably, because Norman means North man, meaning basically Viking. I’ve also seen a piece of a Viking embroidery in a TV documentary on youtube (unfortunately, I’ve watched so many lately, that I don’t remember which one), on which the upper braid looked strikingly similar to the braids of the Bayeux Tapestry. So, I presume there is a link between the Norman embroidery and the Viking one. You heard it here first! I digress. But here’s a copy of part of the Bayeux tapestry I made some years ago as a present for a friend.
Why the interest in Havingsten?
In 2007, I followed the voyage of the Havhingsten from Roskilde to Dublin. The crew had a GPS sender on board and the coordinates were fed to a map. I was actually impressed by the force the wind has on such a sailing ship. With almost no old-fashioned wind mills around and no kite-flying as a child, you tend to forget how powerful wind is. Well, what can I say? I have been hooked ever since. I would’ve loved to be part of the crew, but the fact that there is no WC on board was quite off-putting for me. Also, you needed experience on sailing ships, which I don’t have at all. But like I always say: You can’t all be performers. Somebody has to be in the audience.
Why make a Lego model?
Because I love Lego.
Because I thought it would be great to create a successful Lego Cuusoo model, so children and adults could learn more about the Viking age. I also thought that a Lego replica could sell quite well at the museum’s shop at Roskilde or any other museum specialized in Vikings. We’ll see about that.
The Lego project
I had bought an incomplete set no. 7018-1 (Viking Ship challenges the Midgard Serpent) on Ebay, which included the boat’s bow two times, two of the three boat hulls and the mast pieces, I think. To please common beliefs about Vikings instead of educating children, the original set included four Vikings with horned helmets as well as the mythical sea serpent Midgard, but I didn’t care about that. But the building instructions gave me some ideas on how to start. I’m not a very experienced builder… And made a sketch of the ship on Lego Digital designer, but wasn’t too sure about the design. So I wrote a message to the admin of the Facebook Havhingsten site and asked them for a blueprint. Which they sent me within two hours, I believe.I adjusted my LDD model and made a list of all the pieces I still needed. A lot.
By and by, I acquired the pieces from Bricklink and the remaining three brown oars from Ebay, because it was really hard to find 12 brown oars and 10 dark green ones from as least sellers as possible. I think, the pieces cost me about 40 €, but you can add at least 20 for shipping costs. I asked my sister to make the sail according to my pattern. As you can see from the embroidery above, I’m not that bad in needlework, I was just too lazy, because it takes for ever, when you do it by hand. Thanks to you, sister! (Even if you don’t read this. I might force you to. Mwahahahaha!)
On the original Havhingsten, there were about twice as many oarsmen (and women), but I think 22 is a good number. I calculated that taken the relation of my Havhingsten’s length to a minifigure’s height, a Viking should’ve been 1,68 m. Small for a Skandinavian today, I guess, but people were smaller back then, weren’t they?
Also, the sides of Havhingsten had a red yellow blue striped pattern, which I tried to recreate. Tan isn’t my favourite choice for the inner parts of the ship, but the lower part of the mast was only available in that color and I had the upper part from the original Lego set, so I continued this color scheme. Dark tan or dark flesh might look better, but those colors aren’t that common. The mast (and the sail) of the original Havhingsten can be taken down and laid to rest on that Y-shaped thing. That way, when there’s no wind, the crew can row the ship more easily due to lessened wind resistance. I minimized the rigging from a sheer uncountable (at least for me) number to the one going from stern to aft (called stay?) and the ropes on the lower corners of the sail.
For the stay, I had to use a special knot, because when you take down the mast, it needs to be shorter than with an upright mast. I didn’t know the name for that sailor’s not, but I found it anyway. Funnily enough, I found it on the Lego web site. (This is the kind of coincidence conspiracy theories and religions are made of. I’m not kidding.)
Wow, that’s a long text. But if you made it that far, I hope you enjoyed it. If you like Vikings or ships or Lego or learning by playing or Danish people or life in general, please support the project on Lego Cuusoo! Or at least share this post or a shortened form of it.