Creative Engineers

Subterranean Pit for Vikings

Vikings needed a deep hole in the ground on location. It needed to be large enough for cast and crew to occupy, while appearing authentically constructed from timber. In particular, it needed to be safe from collapsing soil or flooding, and it needed to be silent.

OMEY were asked by Vikings to design and build a robust engineering solution, at short notice. We took just three weeks to design, simulate, fabricate and install a hidden steel shoring assembly underground.


We started by considering the worst case scenario:  if the surrounding soil was wet concrete, applying pressures up to 90kN/m2. We used these extreme forces in our CAD design of a box shoring assembly. The cage structure provided the maximum strength, while leaving the open space required by the scene. We used finite element modelling software to simulate the stresses and strains, while refining the design to achieve the highest safety factor without unnecessary wasted material, time or cost.


The design combined standard beams, and laser cut bolted flanges to speed up fabrication. The identical parts of the cage could be fabricated in parallel, transported to location and assembled using simple bolts, before being lowered into the excavation by crane and backfilled.


Once installed the natural water table in the pit was some 8’ deep, filling at 550 gallons per minute. To keep the pit dry we used a 4” diesel trash pump to drain it, and a silent three phase electric pump in series to keep it dry during the shoot.


Jon Beer Art Director, Vikings said: “OMEY supplied us with a graceful and safe solution, backed up by engineering calculations and knowhow. I’m very happy we called them in for the job.”