About Me

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Melfort, Saskatchewan, Canada
I am a lawyer in Melfort, Saskatchewan, Canada who enjoys reading, especially mysteries. Since 2000 I have been writing personal book reviews. This blog includes my reviews, information on and interviews with authors and descriptions of mystery bookstores I have visited. I strive to review all Saskatchewan mysteries. Other Canadian mysteries are listed under the Rest of Canada. As a lawyer I am always interested in legal mysteries. I have a separate page for legal mysteries. Occasionally my reviews of legal mysteries comment on the legal reality of the mystery. You can follow the progression of my favourite authors with up to 15 reviews. Each year I select my favourites in "Bill's Best of ----". As well as current reviews I am posting reviews from 2000 to 2011. Below my most recent couple of posts are the posts of Saskatchewan mysteries I have reviewed alphabetically by author. If you only want a sentence or two description of the book and my recommendation when deciding whether to read the book look at the bold portion of the review. If you would like to email me the link to my email is on the profile page.

Wednesday, February 27, 2019

A Viking Ship Evokes Memories of Ancestors 1,000 Years Ago

In Sagas and Sea Smoke by Susan Nicol the characters take short excursions on a replica Viking ship called the Snorri. The website for the Norstead Viking Village at L’Anse aux Meadows in Newfoundland provides particulars on the ship:

On July 16, 1997, twelve men set out in authentic replica of a Viking ship called a knarr. The purpose was to recreate Leif
Ericsson's 1500 mile journey from Greenland to
Newfoundland. The journey lasted from July to September
and the crew attempted to be as historically accurate as
possible. Leif's journey was a remarkable feat even for today
since he only had the basic medieval navigational tools: the
sun and the stars. L'Anse aux Meadows, Newfoundland, the
site of the only confirmed settlement in North America, their
ship was the first authentic Viking ship to have completed the
trip in 600 years.

The ship was christened "Snorri" after the name the Vikings
gave the first child born in the New World. It is equipped with
only a square canvas and oars.

While Sharon and I have not seen the Snorri we have seen other Viking ships.

Visiting cousins in Oslo, Norway we went to the Viking Ship Museum which contains three actual Viking ships that have been found in excavations in Norway and preserved.

The Oseberg ship, a photo of which is above, is a striking ship. The Museum website states:

The prow and stern is richly carved in beautiful animal
ornamentation far below the waterline and up along the prow,
which ends in a spiraling serpent's head. Such an ornately
decorated ship has undoubtedly been reserved for special
members of the aristocracy.

The Oseberg ship could be both sailed and rowed. There are
15 oar holes on each side so fully manned, the ship would
have had 30 oarsmen. In addition, there was a helmsman at the
steering oar and a lookout who stood in the bow. The oars are
made of pine, and some of them show traces of painted
decorations. The oars show no signs of wear, so perhaps they
made especially for the burial.

In the ship were the bodies of two women, in her 70’s and the other about 50. Various artifacts accompanied them.

While visiting the Museum was very interesting a much more powerful experience came a week later when we traveled to the Lofoten Island of Vestvågøy where my Grandfather, Carl Selnes, grew up in the late 1800’s.

Just down the hill from a Viking Chief Farm Museum is a dock at which was a replica Viking ship. A photo I took is to the left of this post.

The ship is docked at the exact spot from which Viking ships sailed 1,000 years ago.

At the Museum was the story of a family, which rather than submit to the new king when their small principality was about to be absorbed into a larger Norse kingdom, left in their ship with their most precious belongings for Iceland.

A video of the Museum and ship can be found at - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i5udUbDvpkE

I expect some members of that family likely made their way to Greenland and possibly Vinland which was the Viking name for the area around L’Anse aux Meadows.

There is no development around the dock. I gazed upon the hills unchanged from Viking days. When I stepped aboard the ship I went back in time a thousand years to when my ancestors sailed such ships from this spot. It was so vivid.


  1. What a fascinating connection you have with Norse history, Bill! And those 'photos are terrific. They hint at just how magnificent those ships must have been when they were first used. I've always admired the detailed work that went into making them, too. You're fortunate you've been able to see some of them.

    1. Margot: Thanks for the comment. I would love to go for a short sail in a Viking ship. That they crossed oceans in such ships is amazing. I hope some day to see the Snorri.