‘Viking house’ to be re-constructed at UW-Green Bay next week

Viking House

Believed to be the only such construction on a college campus in the world.

No longer will UW-Green Bay students and faculty have to make the trek from Green Bay to Marshfield, Wis. to relive Viking-age Norway. They will simply have to walk outside the doors of Wood Hall, cross the parking lot, and step into the 11th century.

That’s in thanks to donors Owen and Elspeth Christianson, who have studied Viking-age Norway for 40 years, and have donated their replica of a Viking-age gryndbygg (a Norwegian timber-frame house) to UW-Green Bay. In mid-September, students from Prof. Heidi Sherman’s Public Humanities class spent three days with Owen carefully disassembling and numbering each piece of the house. The foundation has been excavated and poured (see the video), the concrete has been texturized (see the video) and reconstruction, piece-by-numbered-piece begins next Monday (Oct. 23, 2017). The house was delivered last week.

History students just published a website about the project and there is a facebook page with hundreds of photos.

Manager of the project, UW-Green Bay Chair of History, Heidi Sherman, said the reconstruction will go quickly, and should be near completion, except for a slate roof, by late Friday, Oct. 27. An open house is being planned for Saturday, Oct. 28 from 3 to 5 p.m, with a ribbon-cutting ceremony at 3:30 p.m. There will be games for children and demonstration of Viking-age crafts from 3 to 5 p.m.

“We will be the only college campus in the world to have a replica of a Viking house,” Sherman says. “This will offer students hands-on learning experiences that they cannot gain in a traditional college classroom setting.”

The Christiansons will give a presentation about the house and their reasons for donating Wednesday, Oct. 25, 2017 from 5 to 6:30 p.m. at Fort Howard Hall of the Weidner Center. The event is sponsored by the UW-Green Bay History Club and the campus community and public is welcome to attend.

In the past, the Viking house has afforded students hands-on opportunities including medieval weaving, including with metal and blacksmithing — creating their own s-hooks used for hanging pots over the fire. They also prepared all of the food: apple-onion-bacon stew, porridge and flat bread (recipes from the Viking Age with ingredients available to medieval Scandinavians).

Sherman sees similar opportunities for students at UW-Green Bay as well as new and exciting partnerships with K-12 schools, other colleges and Universities and places such as the Neville Public Museum and community organizations such as the Sons of Norway and Society for Creative Anachronisms.  Plans are also in the work for Viking-themed summer camps.

“The possibilities are endless,“ Sherman says. “Students often describe themselves as hands-on learners and that they love acquiring applied skills in their college classes. Through Owen and Elspeth’s donation, we will be able to offer pre-industrial heritage skills to all students and community members who sign up for classes on campus. Having the house brings new opportunities to campus.  For example, we already plan to co-sponsor the visit of a Viking culinary archaeologist, Daniel Serra, next fall who will teach public workshops on Viking-age food using our medieval kitchen at the Viking house. The house will attract new people and organizations to our campus, and that’s really exciting!”

Contributions are still being accepted. E-mail Sherman at shermanh@uwgb.edu for details regarding donations.

Videos by UW-Green Bay Associate Prof. Jeff Benzow (Design).

Click to advance slideshow or view the album on Flickr.
Viking House Construction

– Photos by Dan Moore, Marketing and University Communication

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