The stabilizing of wood found in the Viking ship of Oseberg. Part I

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Publication Type:

Journal Article


Rosenqvist, Anna M.;


Studies in conservation, Volume 4, Number 1, p.13-22 (1959)


freeze-drying, polyethylene glycol, ships, stabilization, Viking, waterlogged wood


A report on the experiences of the author with the problems of treatment of this collection of carved wooden objects, including the ship itself. Excavation was in 1904. The date of the ship: about A.D. 720 (radiocarbon method). Part 1 describes treatment of the ship, and the state of the wooden objects before recent treatment was begun. There is a section on the structure of old waterlogged wood. Part 2 outlines recent tests on the best methods of stabilization: (1) Saturation of the wood with polyethylene glycols, fatty alcohols, etc. The wood must first be dehydrated. (2) Replacement of the water by liquids which do not cause breakdown of the cell walls by their evaporation. (3) Replacement of the water by liquids which become solidified, so that evaporation is eliminated. Trimethyl carbinol, M.Pt 25.5°C, was used. (4) Freeze-drying. After treatment the wood was in some cases given a surface coat of resin. At Oslo and Bergen unstabilized wood is stored frozen in polythene bags.