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Objects from the collection

The conservation of six Viking Age wooden objects from the Oseberg ship burial took place 50 years after their excavation in 1904. As the delicate carvings could not be properly preserved by methods available in the early 1900s, these objects had to wait in tanks of water until a better method came along some time in the 1950s.

Of everyday objects excavated from a pre-industrial city context shoes and leather are some of the most frequent. Commonplace and personal objects such as shoes can give us some insight into people’s lives in the medieval cities.

Madonna sculpture from the Middle Ages with an unusual headdress.

When cataloguing all the museum’s painted medieval sculptures some years ago, I came across a sculpture that challenged both my imagination and knowledge. I refer to a Madonna figure from Lisleherad Church in Telemark that came into the possession of the museum in 1878. The old church had been demolished in 1873, and a new church built. A local farmer had taken care of the Madonna, and later the parish priest ensured that it was sent to the University of Oslo’s collection of national antiquities in Christiania (C8737).

The grude dagger

An unusually long flint dagger from Grude in the district of Jæren was recently returned to the Museum of Cultural History after spending 25 years in Stavanger. If it could speak, the dagger from Grude would tell of swords, and of the time when bronze first arrived in Scandinavia.

In 1924 ̶ 1925, a large ritual deposit – a metal hoard – was ploughed up on the farm of Vestby in Hadeland. Since 2000, this event has been the subject of the open-air play “The Bronze Bucks”, in which Ragna, the girl who found the spectacular objects, plays the main role. A play could equally well be written about the life history of the two strange bronze figurines buried there in the sixth century BCE together with some very unusual pieces of jewellery.

One of the most exciting finds from the burial ground at Veien is a more than 2000-year-old safety pin. But surely safety pins were invented in 1849? Not at all – the pin described here lay in a grave dating from the Early Iron Age.

Viking sword from Lesja

Far into the mountains of Oppland in Norway a sword from the Viking Age was stumbled upon by reindeer hunters during the fall of 2017. This sword has now arrived for conservation at the Museum of Cultural History.

Mystical signs inlaid with gold bedeck the magnificent hilt of the Langeid sword – a Viking weapon infused with Christian symbolism and laid in a pre-Christian grave while the new faith was conquering the last regions of Norway.

In the latter part of the Viking Age, a type of axe intended for use only in battle was developed. Streamlined and elegant, but at the same time a powerful lethal weapon. The broadaxe was a weapon to rival the sword as the foremost symbol of a warrior.