11th century Viking house moves to UW-Green Bay

Published: Oct. 25, 2017 at 3:19 PM CDT
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Construction is underway at UW-Green Bay, on an 11th century Viking home replica that will be used as a living history museum.

“My husband and I had the dream, ever since we got married 41 years ago, of building a Viking haul,” says Elspeth Christianson, who donated the home to UW-Green Bay.

Those dreams turned into reality for Elspeth and Owen Christianson when they built their very own Viking home on their property near Marshfield.

“I’d take 20 students, and we’d spend the weekend," says Heidi Sherman, Chair of History at UW-Green Bay. “Students would talk about it being the best experience they ever had in their college career.”

“It was so much fun having the class there,” says Elspeth Christianson. “They stayed for the whole weekend. They stayed there, lived there, cooked there. Learned skills like blacksmithing, weaving and so on.”

For years, UW-Green Bay students traveled to the house for “Viking Weekend,” a hands-on learning opportunity. Now, the Viking house has been moved, in pieces, to UW-Green Bay’s campus.

“It will allow us to simulate what life was like back 1,000 years, to better understand their society and what they went through in their everyday life,” says Owen Christianson, who donated the house to UW-Green Bay.

“My husband does woodworking, I do weaving, I do cooking. There's been a lot of work trying to reconstruct how the Vikings cooked,” says Elspeth Christianson. “The great thing about having a haul like this, is that you can try all these things.”

UW-Green Bay staff say the home will help students take their learning beyond the classroom.

“We feel here at UWGB that students learn the best when they are actually learning things through applied techniques, and doing things with their hands,” Sherman says.

Once up and running, the house will be open for both students to use, and for community members to experience as a living history museum.

Re-construction of the house started on Monday, with hope it will be finished in the next few weeks.

On Saturday October 28, a ribbon-cutting ceremony will be held at UW-Green Bay at 3:00 p.m.