August 20th 1975

“Went to Roskilde. Sat on church steps eating dinner. Saw Viking Boat Museum”

Roskilde is perhaps best known for its annual music festival, an event that has been held on the city’s fairgrounds since 1971. It is the “Danish Glastonbury” and over its history it has featured headliners as varied as Status Quo, Weather Report, Bob Marley, Lou Reed, Bob Dylan and Nirvana. 

It is an ancient Viking city with detailed history dating back to the 980’s. No, not the 1980’s… a full thousand years earlier! 

Roskilde Cathedral – built in the 12th Century – is thought to have been the first gothic-style brick-built cathedral in the whole of Northern Europe and influenced the building of many others with the similar stylings. Since the 15th Century every Danish monarch has been buried there (after they have died, of course) 

In 1975 it was the scene of a most sacrilegious act, when a pair of spotty oiks sat on its steps and ate their dinner. 

Roskilde is also home to the “Vikingeskibsmuseet”, or Viking Boat Museum. Architecturally it is one of THE ugliest buildings I have ever had the misfortune to visit, but its contents are nothing short of breathtaking… even for someone as ignorant of history as I am. 

Museum, or outside toilet block? You decide.

In 1962 five viking ships were excavated from Roskilde Fjord and rebuilt to form the centerpiece of the museum. These five ships – varying in size from a simple cargo ship to a ship of war – were originally – and deliberately – sunk back in 1070 to help block and protect Roskilde and the surrounding seaway from attack. 

However, more important to me than all this other stuff about Roskilde, it was also where my Mum was born 45 or so years earlier.

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