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The Tune Ship

The Tune ship find as displayed in the Vikingship Museum in Oslo
image: photo Atle J. Johnsen – Paasche, 2020, fig 6

The Tune Ship (Tuneskipet) was part of a ship burial at the Haugen farm on the island of Rolvsøy in the parish of Tune in Viken, Norway. Unfortunately, at some point part of the mound had been removed for use elsewhere. This allowed oxygen into the otherwise anaerobic burial, which resulted in part of the ship decomposing. The remaining part of the ship is exhibited in the Viking Ship Museum in Oslo.

The Tune Ship was excavated by archaeologist Oluf Rygh in 1867. The rather heavy-handed excavators caused the remains of the person interred in the ship and items buried with them to be damaged or lost completely. For many years the ship remained something of a mystery owing to its fragmentary state. However, work by Knut Paasche has provided a great deal of new information 1.

For a long time it was thought that the ship’s freeboard was too low for it to have crossed the North Sea.

“The shape of the ship was based on the shape of the hull below the waterline and the ship’s width at the beams.The problem with this method is that some of the frames are very deformed, allowing for several different interpretations. Cumulatively, small adjustments of the floor-timbers, based on matching visible features on the frames and planking, indicate a different strake placement, and therefore ship shape.” 2.

Dendrochronological dating of the Tune Ship has shown a date range of 905 to 910. Work by Work by Knut Paasche involving laser scanning has indicated that the ship was a fast sailing ship – possibly the fastest Viking Age ship yet discovered.

Point cloud from the laser scanner shows an image of the Tune ship.
Paasche, 2020 fig 10

Plan drawing, longitudinal section, and cross section of the Tune ship.
Paasche, 2020 fig 11

Illustration of the Tune Viking ship at sea.
image: 7Reasons for NIKU

The Tune ship was found in 1867, but what it looked like and how it was used for has long been a mystery.

150 years after the discovery of the ship, archaeologist and researcher Knut Paasche has created a digital reconstruction of the ship that has revealed many of its mysteries.

Norwegian Institute for Cultural Heritage Research


1, Paasche, K., (2020),  “The Tune Viking Ship Reconsidered“, The International Journal of Nautical Archaeology, Volume 49, Issue 1, pp 1-20

2, ibid, p.6

3, Bonde, N. and Christensen, A.E., (1993), “Dendrochronological dating of the Viking Age ship burials at Oseberg, Gokstad and Tune, Norway”, Antiquity 67,
p. 157