Viking World

Before you even enter the impressive glass museum where the Viking longboat Íslendingur is housed, you will see the kneeling statue of Hrafna-Flóki and his raven, the first Norseman to travel to Iceland.  It is not known exactly when he settled in Iceland but it is likely that he sailed to Iceland on a boat similar to the Islendingur when he left western Norway stopping off at the Shetland Isles and the Faroe Islands where he picked up 3 ravens to help him navigate to Iceland, earning him the nickname Hrafna-Flóki, Hrafna meaning Raven. 

Hrafna-Flóki and his raven

This is the essence of Viking World, a visual and tactile encyclopaedia crammed with information in which I entered ignorant of all things Viking and came out overflowing with knowledge and a thirst to learn more. 

As I entered the building, I was faced with the hull of Íslendingur, the ship built by Gunnar Marel Eggertsson who made what is thought to be the best replica of the Viking boat, Gokstad which was found on a burial mound in Norway.  Gunner finished his boat in 1996 and enlisted a crew of 9 to sail it to America without any modern navigational aids in 2000.

On the second floor, I was able to board the ship, stand on the same boards and hold the same ropes that had sailed across the Atlantic sixteen years ago and imagine the journey; the treacherous wild seas, the confusing north Atlantic winds and violent rains that Hrafna-Flóki and so many other Norsemen must have endured to reach the rugged coast of Iceland. 

On board Íslendingur
The pleasant aroma of oak filled the air as I went to visit the Vikings of the North Atlantic.  By the time I arrived, the Vikings had already reached Iceland and even discovered and settled in Greenland and although the sagas of their journeys were passed down verbally from generation to generation, it was several hundred years after they discovered Greenland that the sagas were finally committed to a book called Erik the Red’s Saga.  It was probably the expense and complications of book writing that made the journey from spoken word to written word take so long and it was usually only clerics who had the resources to produce such elaborate works.  
Erik the Red Sagas
This part of the exhibition displays finds from Viking graves discovered in the Reykjanes peninsula including swords, small bronzes, pendants and fascinating pieces of glass and amber, and of course skeletal remains.

As I journeyed further into the Viking life, I came across a burial boat complete with the body clothed in animal furs. Beside him lay objects like tools and weapons that the deceased may need in the afterlife and on top of him, his shield.

Viking Burial Boat
I then came face to face with some tupilaks, small carved figures from Inuit mythology created by practitioners of witchcraft from Greenland, who gave them powers through ritualistic chanting and then sent them off to sea to find and kill their intended victim.  They were usually carved from antler or walrus tusk but they may also have been carved from soapstone or wood but it was a risky business putting a curse on someone because if the intended victim happened to be well practised in magic, they could send the tupilak back to kill its maker.

Tupilak Carvings
I found myself mesmerised by the detail of the carvings but decided to show a bit of reverence, just in case some of the little creatures still carried a curse.  I tiptoed past them to meet the Fate of the Gods. 

With a borrowed headset from the front desk, I listened intently to tales of the gods as I walked through a darkened diorama depicting all the gods.  I met Óðinn who, with his brothers Vile and Vé, created the two humans from whom all of mankind descended. I attended festivals and assemblies and even encountered the world-tree itself.

Viking World Museum
There was still so much more to learn about the Vikings but with two and a half hours already gone, it was time for some lunch at the Viking café.


Viking World is open all year round.  It is only 10 minutes from Keflavik airport on the road to Reykjavik and from February to the end of October, it opens at the amazingly convenient time of 7am which is great if your flight arrives really early or you have time to kill before you fly home.  Its café is also open from 7am serving breakfasts and Viking soup.

To read more about the museum, you can read the review here.

For more information on things to do and places to stay in the Reykjanes Peninsula Visit Reykjanes

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