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Minersville Students’ Handiwork to Be Displayed at Penn College


Two replica Viking sleds built by students at Minersville Area High School will be displayed for the public on Pennsylvania College of Technology’s main campus from Nov. 6-21.

Twenty-two Minersville Area High School students drafted and built the sleds during the 2005-06 school year as part of their senior project. They were led by project mentors Fred Lukus and Ned Eisenhuth. The students also took photos throughout the construction process that are now displayed on the project Web site.

Among the student sled builders was Anthony T. Vasura, of Pottsville, now a Penn College student pursuing a bachelor’s degree in residential construction management.

The original sleds were found with ship burials in Norway (the Oseberg and the Gokstad). Arne Emil Christansen and the Viking Ship Museum in Oslo, Norway, provided the students with plans and historical information for the two sleds.

The Oseberg ship was found in 1904 in a burial mound on a farm in Slagen, Norway. Analysis of the year rings on the wood shows the ship was built in the years 815-20 and buried 15 to 20 years later. The sled found with the ship is believed to be the same age.

The Oseberg sled measures 7 feet, 5 inches long, 34 inches wide and 32 inches high. A sturdy, well-built sled, it could have carried a load of about 1,000 pounds on firm winter snow and about 600 pounds on summer grassland. The students put that estimate and their building skills to the test by driving the sled, pulled by horses, with a 600-pound load around the high school’s football field.

The Gokstad ship was part of a burial site that was excavated in 1880 on the coast of the Oslo Fiord. The ship had been pulled ashore and was let down in a trench. Analysis of the oak’s year rings shows the ship was built about 895 and buried 10 to 15 years later. The sled is believed to be the same age.

The Gokstad sled was an ornamental sled. It measures 7 feet 5 inches long, 34 inches wide and 20 inches high, with decorative carving on the struts and treenails.

Both graves held artifacts, including equipment for the ship, beds, tents, small boats and horse trappings, as well as the remains of livestock. Both ships had burial chambers where human remains were found.

After touring colleges, businesses and the state capital, the Oseberg sled will be donated to the Swedish American Museum Center in Chicago, and the Gokstad sled will be donated to the Saga Museum in Reykjavik, Iceland.

At Penn College, the sleds will be displayed in the Breuder Advanced Technology and Health Sciences Center. To learn more about the students’ project, visit online.

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