Sandefjord mayor Bjorn Ove Gleditsch is an eager hunter, so Wednesday started in a perfect way when he felled a big deer. The rest of the day he spent helping to split the first oak log for the new Gokstad ship.
Not least due to the mayor´s positive attitude, Oseberg Viking Heritage has been given the right to use the fine area at the town seafront for our Viking activities. On this particular day, Mr Gleditsch had agreed to exchange his mayor´s club with the much bigger mallet used for splitting huge oak trees.
The mayor soon proved to have the knack for this kind of work, going at it with great force and attitude. It was no small task; the log being more than one meter in diameter, 3,2 meters in circumference and more than 10 meters long. Oak trees this size are protected in Norway and have to be bought from Danish oak plantations.
The trunk is first split into 12 – 16 segments before they are to be shaped by axes into stems and planking for the new Gokstad ship. All work is done by hand only, using replicas of Viking tools. The process creates huge amounts of wood chips. “These burn for a long time, and anyone who cares to collect them are free to do so. It might be of good help in times like these, with galloping energy prices,” says station manager Tore Forsberg.
Among those present when the first log was split was a 92 years old lady, Helle Sørlie. She has been working with wood carving since the 1970ies, and thought that the time now had come to pass on here valuable tools to someone younger. Which we highly appreciate.