Chapter 8 of The Oxford Illustrated History of the Vikings, discusses Ships and Seamanship, by Jan Bill. Chapter has a to-scale sketch of Skuldelev 1, 2, 3, and 5 on page 189. If I find that sketch in a publicly available media I will post it.
By the way, if you wondered (as I did), what happened to Skuldelev 4, I’ve since learned that what was labeled as #4 was actually parts of #2. Skuldelev 2 had deteriorated enough that parts of it looked like a different ship which was called #4. When the archaeologists realized they were the same ship, the #4 designation was dropped.
Chapter has lots of details on different ships that have been recovered. I’ll mention a few of the details.
When thinking of Vikings crossing the sea, we tend to think of them using those famed longships. Those were used on raids because they were so fast and with their shallow draft could beach on the shore or go far upstream.
For long distance travel, Vikings would use a knarr, also called a hafskip. A knarr used a sail for power with the few oars being for maneuvering. A longship had both sail and many oars. A longship had low free board and a knarr or hafskip had high free board. Free board is the distance between the deck of a ship and the waterline.
Estimates are to build a Viking ship of average size of about 65 or 82 feet in length would require 11 trees 3 feet in diameter and 16 feet long along with another very tall tree in the range of 50 to 59 feet, which would be used for the keel.
This is another in my series of posts on ancient finances.
Let’s ponder how much time it would take to construct a Viking longship and consider how much of an investment that would be for a community. Any way you look at this, a longship is a major capital asset.
I’ll quote and then expand his comment on page 51:
“Experimental archaeologists have estimated that 40,000 working hours may have been needed to produce all the components of a 30-meter longship, consuming the surplus production of 100 persons for a year.”
Surplus production in the Viking context would be the amount of time not needed for subsistence living. In other words the amount of effort a warrior would have after raising enough food to feed his family with enough left over to survive the next winter.
If 40,000 hours is enough time for 100 warriors, that would be 400 hours each. Let’s assume that would be spread over a year except for my assumption that during the worst three months of winter no construction could be done. Since we are talking rough numbers let’s spread that 400 hours over nine months, which would be 44 hours a month, which would be about 11 hours a week.
So 100 warriors working 11 hours a week for 9 months would be needed to construct a longship.