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 Gokstad ship

Oseberghaugen contained numerous grave goods and two female human skeletons. The Oseberg ship´s interment into its burial mound dates from 834 AD, but parts of the ship date from around 800, and the ship itself is thought to be older. This ship is widely celebrated and has been called one of the finest finds to have survived the Viking Age.

The ship and some of its contents are displayed at the Viking Ship Museum. Oseberghaugen should originally have measured around 40 meters in diameter and have been over 4 meters high. It was built in the year 834 and contained one younger (50 years) and one older (about 70 years) women.

It includes the richly decorated Viking ship, a wooden tomb, a magnificent carriage, tapestries, seven beds, four sledges, 15 horses, four dogs, one bull and a variety of other items. The Oseberg burial is one of the few sources of Viking age textiles, and the wooden cart is the only complete Viking age cart found so far. The Oseberg ship was between 14 and 19 years old when it was placed in the pile.

Viking ships were marine vessels of particular designs used and built by the Vikings during the Viking Age. The boat-types were quite varied, depending on what the ship was intended for, but they were generally characterized as being slender and flexible boats, with symmetrical ends with true keel. They were clinker built, which is the overlapping of planks riveted together. Some might have had a dragon´s head or other circular object protruding from the bow and stern, for design, although this is only inferred from historical sources.

They ranged in the Baltic Sea and far from the Scandinavian homelands, to Iceland, the Faroe Islands, Greenland, Newfoundland, the Mediterranean, the Black Sea and Africa.

The ship functioned as the centerpiece of Scandinavian culture for centuries. In fact, the importance of the Viking ship is deeply rooted in Scandinavian culture, as the vessel served both pragmatic and religious purposes. Scandinavia is a region with relatively high inland mountain ranges and easy access to coastal ports. Consequently, trade routes primarily operated via shipping, as inland trading was both hazardous and cumbersome. Viking kingdoms thus developed into coastal cities, all of which were deeply dependent on the North Sea for survival and development. Control of the waterways was then of critical importance, and consequently the most advanced war ships were in high demand.

In fact, because of their overwhelming importance, ships became a mainstay of the Viking pagan religion, as they evolved into symbols of power and prowess. Throughout the first millennia, respectable Viking chieftains and noblemen were commonly buried with an intact, luxurious ship to transport them to the afterlife. Furthermore, the Hedeby coins, among the earliest known Danish currency, have ships as emblems, showing the importance of naval vessels in the area. Through such cultural and practical significance, the Viking ship progressed into the most powerful, advanced naval vessel in Viking Age Europe.

The knarr is the Norse term for ships that were built for Atlantic voyages. They were cargo ships averaging a length of about 54 feet, a beam of 15 feet, and a hull capable of carrying up to 122 tons. Overall displacement: 50 tons. Knerrir routinely crossed the North Atlantic centuries ago carrying livestock and stores to Greenland. It was capable of sailing 75 miles in one day and held a crew of about 20-30. This type of ship was used for longer voyages than the Gokstad type of ship and also for hazardous trips. It is also shorter and sturdier than the Gokstad. It depended mostly on sail-power and used its oars only as auxiliaries if there was no wind on the open water. The vessel also influenced the design of the cog, used in the Baltic Sea by the Hanseatic League.

Karves were a type of tiny Viking ship similar to the knarr. They were used for human transport, the movement of livestock and other goods. Because they were able to navigate in very shallow water, they were also used for coasting. Karves had broad beams of approximately 17 feet.

A faering is an open boat with two pairs of oars, commonly found in most boat-building traditions in Western and Northern Scandinavia and dating back to Viking era Scandinavia.

Longships were naval vessels made and used by the Vikings from Scandinavia and Iceland for trade, commerce, exploration, and warfare during the Viking Age. The longship´s design evolved over many years, beginning in the Stone Age with the invention of the umiak and continuing up to the 9th century with the Nydam and Kvalsund ships. The longship appeared in its complete form between the 9th and 13th centuries. The character and appearance of these ships have been reflected in Scandinavian boat-building traditions until today. The average speed of Viking ships varied from ship to ship but lay in the range of 5–10 knots and the maximal speed of a longship under favorable conditions was around 15 knots.

One Viking custom was to bury dead lords in their ships. The dead man´s body would be carefully prepared and dressed in his best clothes. After this preparation, the body would be transported to the burial-place in a wagon drawn by horses. The lord´s favorite horses and often, a faithful hunting-dog, were killed to be buried with the deceased man. The man would be placed on his ship, along with many of his most prized possessions. The Vikings firmly believed that the dead man would sail to the after-life. An example of a Viking ship burial was excavated near the Danish village of Ladby and can be found on display here. Burial of ships is an ancient tradition in Scandinavia, as evidenced by the Nydam boats from 200 - 450 AD, for example.


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