The Vikings remain known for many things, such as their raids on monasteries, their lack of manners, and their fierce fighting spirit. Viking culture has been studied for years and remains a topic of interest. One of the most fascinating things that people remember the Vikings for is their longships. These ships get their name because they were some of the longest ships of the time, and still are. There was a lot more to these ships than their length, though.
What Were Longships Used For?
Viking longships were often used to carry warriors when they were on the way to raid nearby villages or towns. These longships were known as langskip as well. They had ample room to carry up to 100 soldiers, and the loot that the Vikings would be bringing back with them.
The Architecture of Viking Longships
The architecture of Viking longships is simple yet effective. These ships were built using a single method, they were simple, yet they provided all the necessary room that these men would need on their voyages.
Viking longships were constructed using the clinker method. This involved layering one piece of wood over another piece and then fastening them in place. Every piece of wood barely overlapped the top piece of the one below it, and then the Vikings used iron fasteners to hold them in place.
The hull of the longship often had a carved animal head on the front, which was usually a dragon or a snake. This was not only intimidating, but it was also one way for people to tell the difference between Viking longships and other longships.
Viking longships were often very basic on the inside. They provided room below the deck for men to sit on benches and row with oars. Aside from that, there was not a lot to note about the interior of Viking longships.
Viking longships were known for several things, one of them being how effective they were. The skillful design of these ships made them faster than most other ships at the time, meaning that it was easy for the Vikings to outrun the men and women chasing them if need be. It also made it a cinch to sneak into communities and towns on the river. The Vikings could stay out of view of the shore until the time was right.
Not only were these ships fast, but they were also durable. The simple construction effectively eliminated the risk of boards splitting because the boards overlapped one another. A large number of fasteners used guaranteed that every piece of wood was secure, which was a necessity for the Vikings.
The short height of the ships as well as other design features made them perfect for the Vikings. They excelled at navigating along shallow rivers as well as the seas of the ocean. This made them perfect the Vikings as they were known for constantly being on the move and raiding towns along the coast.
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Interesting Facts About Viking Longships
The Viking longships were known for their superior effectiveness as well as being easy to both navigate and carry. There are several things that people don’t know about these boats, though. These are some of the most interesting facts pertaining to Viking longships.
- The spaces in between pieces of wood were stuffed with animal hair to make the ship watertight.
- Dragon and snakeheads were carved into the front of ships to intimidate the spirits of the lands the Vikings were approaching
- Viking longships could easily land on a beach
- Longships were double-ended, meaning that Vikings could easily reverse their direction if need be, and there was never a need to turn the ship around
- It has been estimated that it would have taken the Vikings six months to build one longship
- Viking ships were incredibly lightweight so that they could easily be carried across land
- Viking ships could often hold up to 120 men
Where Did Vikings Sleep While at Sea?
One of the most popular questions that people as is where di the Vikings sleep while at sea? It depends on where the Vikings were when it was time to lay down for the night. If they were out at sea, some of them might pitch tents along the deck for a quick rest. Other times, the Vikings were known for docking on the beach where they would sleep on the sand with tents or on the deck of the boat. The sail of the boat could be used to construct a massive tent that would cover the deck of the boat, ensuring that the men on the boat all had shelter for the night.
Life On A Viking Longship
Life on a Viking longship that was used as a warship can mainly be described as uncomfortable. If that was all you knew, you would be used to it. If you went from modern standards onto a Viking longship to raid a nearby town, you would be extremely uncomfortable.
Viking longships were designed for purpose, not comfort. There was little room to move or walk without bumping into another person. When all of the oars were in the water, men often could not extend their arms a full length, and walking involved squeezing past another person or thing to get by.
No cushions or items of comfort were on Viking longships. The deck consisted of hardboard as did the rest of the ship, including the benches that men would sit on when rowing the boat. Small cubbies found on ships were most likely used for storing food and goods not pillows or fuzzy blankets. This space was small when compared to the number of men on the ship so it had to be used wisely.
Viking longships are some of the most well-known, fascinating ships in history. They were known for their speed as some of them could sail at 17 knots, durability and surprising effectiveness as traveling over any type of water. These ships remain a fascination today to both historians and those that love the Viking era.