Ponder the supporting industry needed for shipbuilding and seafaring during the Viking age.

Largest reconstruction of a longship arrived in Dublin on 8/14/07 – “Viking Longship ‘Sea Stallion’ Arrives In Dublin” by infomatique is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

Ponder the extent of support needed to keep seagoing fleets of longships going to sea. Those state-of-the-art weapons needed maintenance and supplies.

Robert Ferguson suggests in The Vikings – A History that shipbuilding would have been a significant industry in many communities for the duration of the Viking age.

Think about the range of skills needed, as he mentions:

Continue reading “Ponder the supporting industry needed for shipbuilding and seafaring during the Viking age.”

More details on the Skuldelev ships

Model of a knarr in the Hedeby Viking Museum in Germany. “Modell Knorr” by Europabild (no link to author provided) is licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0

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.

Skuldelev 1 is a knarr, or cargo ship. Continue reading “More details on the Skuldelev ships”

More background on ships

Image courtesy of Adobe Stock.

Comments from a few other books fit well with the previous post Background on Viking Age – ships for warfare, travel, and cargo – 4 of 5

Vikings: Raiders, Traders, and Masters of the Sea by Rodney Castleden, provides more explanations of ship types, starting on page 111.

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.

Model of a knarr in the Hedeby Viking Museum in Germany. “Modell Knorr” by Europabild (no link to author provided) is licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0

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.

Continue reading “More background on ships”

Background on Viking Age – ships for warfare, travel, and cargo – 4 of 5

Model of the Gokstad ship” by Softeis is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.5

A number of Viking ships, or parts thereof, have been recovered by archaeologists. Those few ships reveal much of ship construction.   Viking Age: Everyday life during the extraordinary era of the Norsemen, by Kirsten Wolf, provides some background on ships of the era.

This post has five illustrations of Viking ships.

Ship construction – warships

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.

In the Viking Age, if you saw this from shore, you were about to have the worst day of your life. Courtesy of Adobe Stock.

Continue reading “Background on Viking Age – ships for warfare, travel, and cargo – 4 of 5”

Gokstad and Oseberg ship models

Model of the Gokstad ship” by Softeis is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.5

 

Model of Oseberg Ship in Maritime Museum in Stockholm,Sweden by Karolina Kristensson / Sjöhistoriska museet  (no link provided) is licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0

 

The Gokstad and Oseberg ships were found in burial mounds. They were well-preserved, providing rich information about Viking ship technology.

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Building a Viking Longship

Viking Gokstad ship. Image courtesy of Adobe Stock.

I’ve found a few websites that provide a few details on how to build a Viking ship. This post won’t go into much detail. Check these sites for more info that could you possibly want:

I have a post asking How much time did it take to construct a Viking Longship?

How much labor did it take to construct a Viking longship?

Replica of Viking longship – “The Sea Stallion – Viking Ship” by infomatique is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

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.

(Cross post from Attestation Update.)

One estimate of time to build a longship

Philip Line, in his book The Vikings and Their Enemies – Warfare in Northern Europe, 750 -1100 written in 2014, provides one framework for the investment in a longship.

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.

Continue reading “How much labor did it take to construct a Viking longship?”