The heavy mast was lowered and stored in a groove in the keelson. The deck boards were kept loose to allow sailors to store their belongings safely below decks.
The heavy mast was lowered and stored in a groove in the keelson. The deck boards were kept loose to allow sailors to store their belongings safely below decks.

The Vikings were driven to set sail deep into the seas. Highly skilled sailors, warriors, and explorers. Their wooden longships carried them across through rough untamed waters dodging icebergs, rocks, and surviving brutal storms.

The Vikings relied heavily upon their trusted wooden boats and massive rectangular sails in open seas. As they approached coastal areas they dropped their mast and rowed their boats to penetrate rivers to access fertile rich resources (people’s stuff).

 The Gokstad ship had 32 shields on each side. Each shield was painted in alternate colors, yellow and black. In 1893 a full-size replica sailed across the Atlantic Ocean to Chicago to prove their seaworthiness.

The Gokstad ship had 32 shields on each side. Each shield was painted in alternate colors, yellow and black. In 1893 a full-size replica sailed across the Atlantic Ocean to Chicago to prove their seaworthiness.

Vikings focused on the sky above for navigation purposes drawing out their path using the sun and the stars. Whenever possible they would sail within sight of land far from the coast for safety reasons. Their knowledge of wildlife and the environment helped them find their way.

Many of the Viking ships we have today survived due to being buried with wealthy Vikings. This was a custom reserved only for the rich Vikings. Most ships rotted away back into the land it came from.

The best-preserved ships are Oseberg and Gokstad from Norway. They are slender light vessels.

The Viking ship was steered by a large oar with a long flat blade. The Gokstad steering oar is 10 ft 9 in (3.3m) long. The oar was attached to the right side of the ship near the stern. In the English language the right side of the ship is named starboard after the older Norse word style (to steer).
The Viking ship was steered by a large oar with a long flat blade. The Gokstad steering oar is 10 ft 9 in (3.3m) long. The oar was attached to the right side of the ship near the stern. In the English language the right side of the ship is named starboard after the older Norse word style (to steer).

A Viking Warship

Extremely powerful the Viking warship was able to carry many warriors across the oceans. Compared to other ships in it’s time it was the longest, sleekest, and quickest of all other Viking ships. The mast could be taken up for more maneuverability using 24 to 50 oarsman depending on its size. Rowing allowed them to row their ships up narrow inlets and glide up flat beaches. On long voyages, the Viking warriors would take shifts rowing if the wind couldn’t do the job.

In 1962, five Viking Ships were excavated from Roskilde Fjord in Sjaelland, Denmark. The have been sunk on purpose to protect the harbour from enemy ships. This is a reconstruction of the sunken warship.
In 1962, five Viking Ships were excavated from Roskilde Fjord in Sjaelland, Denmark. The have been sunk on purpose to protect the harbour from enemy ships. This is a reconstruction of the sunken warship.

Even when the ship was full of warriors and heavy load the keel was extremely shallow that it didn’t require the need of a jetty or quay and could be unloaded right on the shore. This allowed them to do hit and run raids in a timely manner. When the ship was beached men and horses could easily wade ashore.

Viking Ship
A cross beam and ribs helped to strengthen the hull of the Viking ship. The gaps between the strakes were stuffed with tarred wool. This is called caulking. It kept water out and made the ship more flexible in rough seas.

There had been two well-preserved Viking Warships that were discovered in Roskilde Fjord in Denmark. They were filled with many stones and sunk deliberately around the year 1000. The longest ship was 92 ft (28 m) from stern to prow. It was the longest ship ever found to date.

The Normans were descended from Vikings who settled in Normandy France. The bayeux Tapestry describes their conquest of England in 1066. In this scene, the proud ship of the Normans leader, William the Conquerer, sails toward England. A lookout in the stern blows a horn, while the steersman holds the tiller, attached to the steering oar. The ship was an animal-head prow, and shields line its sides.
The Normans were descended from Vikings who settled in Normandy France. The bayeux Tapestry describes their conquest of England in 1066. In this scene, the proud ship of the Normans leader, William the Conquerer, sails toward England. A lookout in the stern blows a horn, while the steersman holds the tiller, attached to the steering oar. The ship was an animal-head prow, and shields line its sides.

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