After exploring Oslo, we returned to Vestfold and visited historic Tonsberg - perhaps Norway's first city, thought to have been founded in Viking Age by Harold Fairhair, whose grandmother may have been buried in the Oseberg Ship.
The Slottsfjells Museum in Tonsberg hosts the fourth of Norway's surviving Viking Age Ship.
Unlike Tune, Gokstad and Oseberg, the Klastad Ship was not discovered as part of burial, instead it appears to have been a domestic ship which was carrying quarry along the river. It may lack the impressive, high-status artefacts of the Ship burials, but it is still extremely important, giving us a rare glimpse of a Viking Age Merchant Ship.
Although not as well preserved as her sister-ships, archaeologists have been able to make a scale reconstruction to show us how Klastad may have looked when she was in use.
It is thought that on her last journey she sunk, and before she was abandoned any smaller items of value were removed before leaving the ship for archaeologists to find over a thousand years later!
In addition to Klastad the museum also holds a number of artefacts from nearby Viking Age burials and a couple of nice items from Oseberg Ship Burial which complement it rather nicely. The exhibition also included some really well-made reproductions of objects from the Oseberg burial and it was fantastic to see them as they would have looked over a thousand years ago!
After a good look through the other exhibitions we explored the rest of town before heading back to the airport to return home. Luckily, our wanderings took us down to the harbour where we came across an unexpected treat.
This beautiful reproduction of the Oseberg Ship was constructed by the team at Osberg Vikingarv, a Foundation dedicated to recreating the surviving Viking Age ships using traditional techniques. As well as offering members of the public the opportunity to book a rowing bench on one of their crafts, they also promote traditional boat building techniques through apprenticeships and sail all over the Viking World to raise awareness of their excellent work.
Thinking we'd ticked every box on our trip we were just about to leave when my wife heard the unmistakable sound of metal tools on wood over the wind.
We'd seen the four surviving Viking Age Ships of Norway, sailed a reproduction of the Gokstad Ship, seen reproductions of the Oseberg Ship and all the small crafts that went with them, and now we'd actually seen one being built!
This new project was a reconstruction of the Klastad Ship we'd seen only hours before. You could smell the timber and the tar used to seal the clinker built hull, and hear the shipwrights chatting in Norwegian over the sound of the gentle, rhythmic chipping of their axes and chisels. The modern town melted away and it was as if we were stood here over a thousand years ago in a shipyard on the fjords!
As I write Klastad has been finished and launched and if you go to Osberg Vikingarv's Facebook Page you can see pictures of her on the water and more besides! Don't forget to give their Page a 'Like' - every little helps raise awareness of their excellent work.
And with that last Wassail #thegreatvikingholiday Part 1 was over and we returned to Britain, still walking on clouds after that amazing experience. However, within a few short weeks we'd be at it again for Part 2!