Queen Margrethe of Denmark, whose Viking ancestors once raided European shores, today christened a replica of a 1,000-year-old war ship that is due to sail to Britain and Ireland in 2007.
Following ancient Norse tradition, the Danish monarch poured water from a creek on the stern of the 99ft longship – billed as the world’s most ambitious Viking ship reconstruction.
“Your name shall be Havhingsten (Stallion of the Sea) from Glendalough,” Queen Margrethe said during the ceremony at the Viking Ship Museum in Roskilde, 25 miles west of Copenhagen.
The original warship, which was excavated in the Roskilde fjord, was built in 1042 in Glendalough, south of Dublin.
Instead of fierce Viking warriors, the replica will carry a crew of 60 volunteers hoping to learn more about Viking-era navigation on their journey to Dublin, a city founded by Vikings and the ship’s main destination.
“May you bring the crew to safe port, may you strengthen the ties between Denmark and Ireland,” the Queen said.
Culture Minister John O’Donoghue, who attended the christening, promised the crew would be welcome in Dublin.
“In many ways the vessel’s arrival in Dublin in 2007 will be a homecoming,” he said. “This is because the original warship was built there in about 1042. Dublin was its home port.”
Mr O’Donoghue joined Queen Margrethe and other Danish officials for a 45-minute journey in the fjord after dozens of workers pulled the 7.5-ton ship into the water before 20,000 cheering spectators.
The ship’s mast, sail and riggings will be mounted in late September, said Max Vinner, a museum curator.
He said volunteers would train for two years before crossing the North Sea. The ports-of-call on the way to Dublin have not been decided, but Vinner said the crew would choose “towns and sites loaded with Viking history”.
The sailors will study how the replica behaves at sea, adding that the original was one of the most advanced vessels of its time.
“They also will find out how life, eating, cooking and fighting was aboard,” he said.