|Both oaks and linden trees take on strange shapes in the primeval forest.|
|Oaks are among the last trees to come into leaves |
and this old giant is among the latest of the late.
In the old days large oak forests covered much of Southern Norway before the woods were cut down and the timber exported to the Netherlands and England in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. Back in the Viking Age the oak and pine forests were essential to the building and development of the Viking ships. Pine delivered timber for the strakes and masts, and oak, with its variety of forms, gave solid and enduring materials for knees, ribs, curved stems, keels and all the different shapes needed in the construction of a Viking ship, whether they were slender warships - longships - or heavy merchant ships - knorrs.
The famous Oseberg ship may very well have had timber from the very wood I was visiting this morning. The ship was used in a burial in Eastern Norway, but examinations have shown that the trees used in the Oseberg ship were cut in the southern part of Western Norway.
Walking in the oak forest and watching the warped and crooked oak branches, I thought of my novels, and I could easily imagine Sigve the Awful's shipwrights walking the woods around Vik, searching for materials for their shipbuilding. But on my return down the path beside the brook, I passed the precipice once more, and again I heard the ravens caw without seeing them. This time one of them was laughing a very hoarse laughter, and in the car back home I wondered whether it was Huginn, "thought" or Muninn, "memory" who so overtly had been mocking me.
|The Oseberg ship at The Vikingship Museum in Oslo.|
|Building a replica of the Oseberg ship.|