The Viking Unst Project and Skidbladner – Haroldswick, Scotland - Atlas Obscura

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The Viking Unst Project and Skidbladner

Haroldswick, Scotland

Recreations of a Norse longhouse and boat on Shetland's northernmost inhabited island. 


Norse (or Viking) heritage in Shetland is a source of cultural pride and uniqueness. While the entirety of the British Isles and a large part of Northern Europe saw repeated Norse invasions and settlements, the Scottish archipelagos of Shetland and Orkney had a particularly long period of Norse habitation, starting in the 8th-century and being part of the Kingdom of Norway until the 15th-century.

The abundance of longhouse remains in Shetland (around 60 explored so far, most of them in Unst) represent the largest concentration of rural Norse ruins in the world. The Unst community of Haroldswick celebrates this with a longhouse recreation as well as the Skidbladner, a replica of the Gokstad ship found in Norway in the 19th-century.

The replica Skidbladner, named after a ship in Norse mythology, was originally built in Sweden and intended for the United States. While being sailed to its destination in 2000, the boat made a stop in Shetland and was eventually acquired by the islands’ Amenity Trust. With Haroldswick being the home of the Unst Boat Haven, a group of local shipbuilders assisted in its restoration and eventual placement in its current home.

The longhouse was built in 2010 with its authentic interiors and now plays host to several Norse cultural and heritage events.

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