Reconstruction of the Hjortspringboat - Philosophy, Execution and Initial Results.

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ISBSA 8, Session C_1


Knud V. Valbjørn, Hans P. Rasmussen, Jørn A. Jørgensen.


The present paper is the first of three papers dealing with the reconstruction of the Hjortspringboat. Of these three papers the two first are being presented at ISBSA 8, while the third one, reporting on the sailing performance of the boat, will be published in the autumn 1998.

In 1991 a group of people in Denmark on the island of Als, where the Hjortspringboat was excavated, decided to build a replica of the boat. A guild was formed in order to act as a legal platform for co-ordination, raising of funds and for establishing connections with museums and universities.

The philosophy of the work is to build the boat as accurate as possible with regards to geometry, smoothness and materials in accordance with the newest interpretation of the boat, to analyze and document all details of the work and publish all experiences.

The data base for the work is the original boat, as it is displayed at the National Museum in Copenhagen, G.Rosenberg:

" Hjortspringfundet" with F.Johannessens drawing , several newer books and publications from the National Museum and consultations with scientists from museums and universities.

The guild is organized in groups in accordance with the interests of the members. The design group entered Johannessens drawing into a computer program, firstly to print out shapes of the boat used by the building group , and secondly as base for hydrostatic, hydrodynamic and stress analysis.

The tool group forged, in accordance with the archaeological finds , axes, adzes and chisels and got them refined in a cut-and -try procedure together with the building group.

The building group went through a two years training period in order to master the technologies of the Hjortspringboat.

During the training period the string ,the sewing and the stopping technologies were developed.

The boat building started in the spring of 1994 after the huge lime trunks, needed for the boat, have arrived. These trunks were acquired from Poland from the forest district of Kisielwo in Kwitainy. Some gluing was necessary, because the lime trunks showed to have loose heartwood.

The building is very time consuming as the surface of the original boat was very smooth and many of the details very refined in their shape. 7000 man hours and 4 years are expected to be used .

During the work many questions arose as to the function of the different details, thus producing many hypothesis. Some of these are dealt with in the paper.

Lastly, some aspects of contribution by amateurs in the research of past ship building technologies are discussed.

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