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Munin Viking Longboat Website

The Viking Ship Idea

The Norwegian House Society initiated the BC Viking Ship Project in 2000, one millennium after Leif Erikson first landed in Canada.

The construction of the Munin took several steps:
  1. Design & Planning
  2. Building the Longship
  3. Launching the Munin

For more detail on the launch of the Munin, please see the Digital Norseman's BC Viking Ship Project.

And, the Munin is based on the historic viking longship the Gokstad.

Design & Planning

The first step was to design the Munin. A 1/2-scale replica of the historic 80' Gokstad was considered of practical size (40' long with 9'6" beam width and 20" draft) for both local sailing and trailering.

Master boat builders Kristian Frostad, Arne Frostad and Raymond Bardsnes accepted the arduous task of design and construction, aided by numerous volunteers and organizers. As they put it, the Viking Ship is "The ultimate symbol of our heritage."

To fund the project, $60,000 was raised from individuals, businesses and societies to fund the project and allow the Munin to be built with authentic materials, techniques and equipment wherever possible.

With everything in place, construction began on a 64' boatbuilding shed in July 2000 at the Scandinavian Community Centre.

Building the Longship

Once the shed was done, work on the Munin began with a small scale plan of the original ship. The Munin's lines were transferred to the shed floor in full scale and then to templates for the keel.

A keel-raising ceremony was held on September 10, 2000 and was attended by a crowd that included local Burnaby politicians. The 4'x8' keel was assembled to the fore and aft stems, then reinforced with a 4'x6' keelson. The 1500 lbs of lead ballast, in 100 lb ingots beneath the floor boards, came from the Teck Cominco smelter in Trail, B.C.

The hull was built with 1'x10" Douglas Fir donated by Big Rock Homes of Mission, BC. Nine station moulds were used to give shape to the hull planking and a mix of cotton and pine tar was used for sealing.

While the hull was being built, groups of volunteers worked to make shields, clothing and fourteen 14 1/2" long oars. The 400 sq. ft. red and white striped sail was also being made from Dacron by a local sail maker.

The two iconic dragon heads for the bow and stern were carved by a local artist named Moon. Major construction was completed by June 23, 2001 in time for unveiling at the 6th annual Midsummer Festival at the Scandinavian Community Centre.

The 28' mast was made from a tree cut down near Maple Ridge and ropes were spliced to make the shrouds (stay lines). In August 2001, the sail was raised for the first time!

The Viking longship became a fully working model one year after inception (and 1111 years after Gokstad) using all volunteer labor, working mainly on weekends.

Launching The Munin

The launching ceremony took place on July 7, 2001 at Vanier Park with Norwegian ambassador Ingvard Havnen and members of the local media in attendance.

A contest had been held to name the ship and the winner was Munin (pronounced mew-nin), after the raven associated with memory that perched on Odin all-father's shoulder.

Thus the new ship was christened Munin, by the daughters and granddaughters of her builders, with mead from horns thrown onto the hull. Outfitted with shields, it was rowed on its maiden voyage a short distance to its new home in front of the Maritime Museum. The oarsmen and other participants got into the spirit of things in Viking costumes.

As a functioning replica of an archeological and historical artifact Munin was launched, like Odin's raven, to gather information.

History of the Gokstad

The Munin is based on the Viking longship Gokstad - a ship from Oslo, Norway that was buried with its owner around 900 AD.

The Gokstad's oak hull was preserved in blue clay and its dimensions were 76 feet long, 17 feet wide and 7 feet high from the bottom of the keel to the gunwale at midship.

The Gokstad, being twice the linear dimensions of Munin, had four times the seating area and eight times the cargo capacity. There were no seats, but capacity was about 70; enough for two shifts of 32 oarsmen who would have sat on their sea chests to row.

The restored Gokstad ship is now on permanent display at the Viking Ship Museum in Oslo.