Construction time of one longhouse and perimeter of winter camp in Viking Era

Viking house in the city of Hobro, Denmark. Image courtesy of Adobe Stock.

The estimated construction time of one longhouse and the protective moat and wall around a winter camp is provided by Kim Hjardar and Vegard Vike in their book Vikings at War.

At location 2671, the authors descibe a fort at Fyrkat, near Hobro, in the south of Denmark. The fort was about 390 feet across. It held 16 longhouses, laid out in quadrants.

Size of the longhouses was about 93’ long by 24’ wide by 25’ tall. (I don’t get the reason for a 7.5 meter height, but the photo above gives an idea). The main rooms were about 51’ long, with a smaller room at each end.

Of particular interest to me, the authors say that from 1982 through 1984, one of the longhouses was reconstructed using the types of materials, tools, and techniques that the Vikings would have used.

The timed result was 24,192 hours to build a longhouse.

I’ll work with that amount:

  • 24,192 hours – time to construct one longhouse
  • / 50 hours/week – assumed full-time schedule; probably was closer to 60
  • = 484 man-weeks – time to construct 1 longhouse
  • / 35 weeks – my wild guess on work being underway 8 months of the year
  • = 13.8 man-years – number of husky, farm work hardened men needed to complete one longhouse in a season

Winter camp

At location 2753, authors describe a moat and earthen rampart found at Repton. This was a fortified location for a winter camp.

The earthen wall ranged up to 19’ tall with breastworks on the top of the wall. Those breastworks would have provided superb defensive fighting positions.

A moat, measuring 13’ deep and 13’ wide surrounded the fort. Obviously all that dirt was dug and then piled up to create the wall.

Diameter of the winter camp is about 320 feet.

Author says the estimates are that such a winter camp would have taken about 5 weeks to build if 200 men were at work.

I’ll work with that estimate:

  • 200 men – estimated workers
  • x 5 weeks – construction time
  • = 1,000 man-weeks – estimated construction time
  • x 50 hours/week – assumed fulltime schedule , probably was closer to 60
  • =50,000 man-hours – estimated time to construct perimeter of winter camp

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