Here come the vikings

Viking longships

Who made the longships and how did they make them?

Boatbuilders made the longships, they were either the old weak men or men who had been born into a business of boat building. Boatbuilders would have to trudge through the Scandinavian forests to find the best oak and pine trees to use. Longboats were made of oak or pine planks that were nailed to a central keel. A keel was the heaviest part of the boat, it was a chunk of wood that was evened out and fastened to the planks using tree nails. The mast was made of a tall tree trunk that was shaved smooth. The sail was attached to the mast once again using tree nails. Each crewman earned an oar in case their was no wind.

What were some of the famous voyages travelled on the long ships?

The Viking raid on Lindisfarne in 793 AD, one of the famous raids in Viking history. A group of vikings left off the coast of Norway and travelled across the North Sea to Britain. Because the long boats where shallow they were able to sneak up really close to the shore and surprise the monastery in Lindisfarne.
Rollo a viking leader lead the raids in Gaul (now a part of Paris), this was around 907-911. He repeatedly lead his longship down the Seine River attacking settlements on the way. All other boats made at this time were too heavy to sail down the rivers in France so once again the Vikings had the element of surprise.

Why were there different types of longships and what were the different ones used for?

There were many different types of longships. The main ones were warships. There were 3 types of warships: Snekke, Drekkar and Skeid. All 3 ships had a shallow draft so they could sail right into shore for surprise attacks. They were up to 30 metres in length and were very narrow. There were heavy freight-carrying merchant ships called Knarr. these weren’t as long and were much wider. they were very deep for cargo, carrying the goods. they used a sail instead of oars as they were in no rush. there was also light freight-carrying merchant ships called Byrding. these had the same purpose but were light enough to pull into shore. Lastly there were small boats. These were the most used because these were the day to day boats. Used for fishing and transporting people, goods and local news from place to place.

What was it about the design of the long ships that made them so successful?

The fighting long ships were designed to travel great distances. everything was handmade. Oak trees were chopped down for the base and the planks of the ship to create a strong design that doesn’t buckle. the keel’s design kept the ship very stable. the sails were made from plaited sheepwool and wax to keep them strong and waterproof. They used sails so the oarsmen could rest when the wind picked up. this gave the vikings time to get there energy back. the ships were light and economic which was a major part to their success. they fastened evenly spaced floor timbers to the keel not the hull to insure resilience and flexibility. All these factors of the ship made it the best and most successful ship in viking history.

Did you know?

  1. Vikings did not have horns attached to their helmets, it is just a stereotype!
  2. Vikings revolutionised boatbuilding forever!
  3. Vikings were mostly farmers or merchants when they weren't on raids!
  4. Viking men liked to wear jewelry to show how wealthy they were!
  5. Viking longboats could hold up to 68 oarsmen!