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A Celebration of an Epic Voyage

Odin's Raven

​Tynwald will be commemorating the 40-year anniversary of Odin's Raven's epic voyage at the House of Manannan on Tynwald Day 2019, when many of Odin Raven's crew will join Tynwald Members and invited guests to mark the anniversary.

Odin’s Raven is a replica Viking longship which was sailed by a crew of Manx and Norwegian volunteers from Trondheim in Norway to Peel, Isle of Man, arriving on 5th July 1979 to celebrate Tynwald’s Millennium year.

The Odin’s Raven expedition was a private initiative, instigated by Mr Robin Bigland in anticipation of the Tynwald Millennium in 1979. The impressive undertaking began in 1978 when Mr Bigland posted newspaper advertisements asking, “Does the Viking Spirit Live?” He sought volunteers to help him celebrate Tynwald’s millennium and our Viking connections by sailing the replica longship from Norway to the Isle of Man. The advert received over 480 responses from around the world, however only Manx and Norwegian crew members were selected.

Odin's Raven was hand-constructed by a family of shipbuilders in Norway. She is a 2/3 scale replica (50ft x 11ft) of the Gokstad ship: a 9th-century Viking ship found in a burial mound at Gokstad in Sandejford, Norway.

During her construction, the selected crew members were busy building their strength and preparing for their arduous journey. Through the winter of 1978 they were trained hard by the Special Boat Section of the Royal Marines, spending significant portions of time in the sea in a state of undress, so as to get their bodies ‘water-fit’ in preparation for the possibility of a capsize. Living for weeks on an open boat was also something they had to prepare well for. 
Setting out from Trondheim on 27th May 1979, and followed by a BBC TV film crew, Odin’s Raven was sailed by her crew of 16 for almost 2,500 kilometres. The crew experienced warm hospitality on their journey, receiving bottles of whisky as they visited various Scottish islands and gifts from school children and shops. The hospitality continued through to her arrival in Peel, where Odin’s Raven was met by an escort of various ships including the Frigate HMS Mohawk and welcomed by a crowd of more than 20,000 people.
The President of Tynwald, the Hon Steve Rodan MLC, said, ‘We are honoured to be able to share the celebrations of Robin Bigland and his crew on Odin’s Raven, and the story of this astonishing journey on Tynwald Day, the 40th anniversary of their journey to commemorate our heritage.
Every Tynwald Day we celebrate the Norse origins of our unique parliament and this year we are proud to be able to commemorate the Millennium of Tynwald, and the immense achievements of Manx and Norwegian men who replicated the journey of our ancestors over 1,000 years ago’.
Mr Bigland said, “Five of our crew are now dead, so this will be our last Hurrah.  But our longship, Odin’s Raven, will long remain as an enduring symbol of the Millennium in 1979 and our abiding links with Norway and our Viking heritage.”
Odin’s Raven is the main display at the House of Mannanan in Peel – open daily 10am to 5pm.
                                                                               Photo from 1979 with kind permission from John Ball showing the crowds on the beach as Odin's Raven came along shore

For further information contact:
The Hon Steve Rodan, President of Tynwald
Telephone: 01624 685500
Clerk of Tynwald’s Office
Legislative Buildings, Douglas, IM1 3PW       
01624 685500
Published - 31/05/2019