Jan Bill (born 1961 in Denmark)

Professor, curator for the Viking Ship Collection

Museum of Cultural History, University of Oslo



2007-                            Professor, Museum of Cultural History, Oslo

2003-2007                   Senior researcher, head curator, The Viking Ship Museum, Roskilde

1997-2003                   Researcher/senior researcher, research coordinator, Centre for Maritime Archaeology, National Museum of Denmark

1997                             Ph.D.-degree in archaeology from University of Copenhagen

1993-1997                   Ph.D.-student, Centre for Maritime Archaeology, National Museum of Denmark

1993                             Cand.phil.-degree in archaeology from University of Copenhagen

1987-1993                   Student, Institute of prehistoric and classical archaeology, University of Copenhagen


Research projects (list still under construction)

Gokstad revitalised

With funding from Anders Jahres Humanitære Stiftelse a pilot project is carried out in 2009-2010 to develop a research plan and proposal for a reexamination of the Gokstad find and site. When the Gokstad ship grave was excavated in 1880, the main focus was on the very well preserved ship. The excavation of the Oseberg ship grave with its vast amounts of organic finds in 1904 put further Gokstad research on a hold, and little has been done to pursue other aspects of this grave. Through GIS-supported analyses survey and Lidar scanning of the surrounding landscape the project will seek to locate adjacent settlement, burial and activity areas, and through renewed analyses of the grave inventory – including biochemical, paleozoological, pathological and other analyses – the relation between the grave and the landscape is investigated. The project will include a research seminar on Early Medieval Monumental Graves to be held in Sandefjord November 2009 with about 20 participants from six different countries. It is planned to publish the proceedings of the seminar.


From Nordic to North European. Coastal seafaring and changes in Danish shipbuilding AD 900-1600

On the basis of analyses of changes in ship construction techniques applied in South Scandinavian and North European shipbuilding this project discusses the changing organisation of Danish shipbuilding and seafaring in relation to the medieval urbanisation process. It is argued that the socioeconomic dynamics behind the urbanisation also are reflected in shipbuilding, and that seafaring during the medieval period increasingly moves from the domaine of estates and land owners to that of towns. The project is carried out in collaboration with the Viking Ship Museum, Roskilde, and is expected to produce a monography in the series Ships and Boats of the North from the Viking Ship Museum.


DendroCT is a research project, supported by the Nordic Culture Fond, which aims at developing methods for non-destructive dendrochronological dating of archaeological objects by means of CT-scanning. Read more at DendroCT.htm

Publications (selection)

Piracy and naval organisation in the Baltic Sea in the 9th century: some security considerations concerning Wulfstan's voyage. In: Wulfstan's Voyage. The Baltic Sea region in the early Viking Age as seen from shipboard. Ed. Anton Englert & Athena Trakadas. Maritime Culture of the North 2. The Viking Ship Museum, Roskilde, 2009. 343-353.

Zwischen Kogge und Kraweel. Traditioneller Kleinschiffbau in Südskandinavien in einer Zeit der Wende .In: Zwischen Tradition und Wandel. Archäologie des 15. und 16. Jahrhunderts. Ed. Barbara Scholkmann et al. Tübinger Forschungen zur historischen Archäologie, Verlag Dr. Faustus, Büchenbach, 2009. 251-259.

Viking Ships and the Sea. In: The Viking World. Ed. Stefan Brink. Oxon: Routledge, 2009. 170-180.

Travel and Transport. In: The Archaeology of Medieval Europe (with E. Roesdahl). Ed. James Graham-Campbell and Magdalena Valor. Acta Jutlandica LXXXIII:1. Aarhus: Aarhus University Press, 2007. 261-88.

Welcome on Board! The Sea Stallion From Glendalough. A Viking Longship Recreated (with S. Nielsen et al.).  Roskilde: Vikingeskibsmuseet, 2007.

Medieval Warships; Shipbuilding Materials – An Overview; Viking ships; Wind Power. Opslag i The Oxford Encyclopaedia of Maritime History. Ed. John B. Hattendorf. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2007. 371-373; 584-588; 289-290; 391-393.

Kiloran Bay revisited – confirmation of a doubtful boatgrave. In Mortensen, A. & Arge, S.V. (ed.) Viking and Norse in the North Atlantic, pp. 345-358. Thórshavn 2005

Ældre historiske kort som kilde til kommunikationslandskabet. Geoforum Perspektiv 5, pp. 32-37, 2004

Haithabu 4 seen in the context of contemporary shipbuilding in Southern Scandinavia. Der Prahm aus dem Hafen von Haithabu. Beiträge zu antiken und mittelalterlichen Flachbodenschiffen (eds. Klaus Brandt, Hans Joachim Kühn), pp. 43-54 (with Fred Hocker). Schriften des Archäologischen Landesmuseums. Ergänzungsreihe. Neumünster 2004

Byens opståen og de ferske vande. In: Hofmeister, Erik (Ed.) De ferske vandes kulturhistorie i Danmark, pp. 222-227. Silkeborg 2004

Navires et navigation en occident à l'époque Viking. In La Progression des Vikings, des raids à la colonization (ed. Flambard Héricher,Anne-Marie), pp. 27-56, Publications de l'Université de Rouen, 2003.

Schiffe als Transportmittel im nordeuropäischen Raum. In Mitteilungen der Deutschen Gesellschaft für Archäologie des Mittelalters und der Neuzeit 14, pp. 7-19. 2003

The Cargo Vessels. In Cogs, Cargoes, and Commerce. Maritime Bulk Trade in Northern Europe 1150-1400 (eds. Berggren, L. et al.), Papers in Medieval Studies 15, 92-112. Toronto 2002

Scandinavian Warships and Naval Power in the Thirteenth and Fourteenth Centuries. In War at Sea in the Middle Ages and the Renaissance (eds. Hattendorf, J. & R. Unger), pp.35-52. The Boydell Press 2002.

Castles at Sea – The warship of the High Middle Ages. In Maritime Warfare in Northern Europe. Technology, organisation, logistics and administration 500 BC-1500 AD (eds. Nørgård Jørgensen, A. et al.), pp. 47-56. PNM vol. 6, Nationalmuseet, København 2002.

Roskildeskibene. In: Civitas Roscald – fra byens begyndelse (ed. T. Christensen & M. Andersen), pp.211-259. Co-autor. Roskilde 2001

Port topography in medieval Denmark. In: Jan Bill (ed.) 1999: pp. 251-261.

Fra vikingeskib til bondeskude. Middelalderens almuesøfart under lup. I: Nationalmuseets Arbejdsmark 1999 (ed. Hvass, S.), pp. 171-185.