The Long Ship
  • The Viking long ships were one of the major tools that brought Vikings success on their raids and wars throughout Europe.

The Vikings were in Scandinavia surrounded by plenty of water. While the rest of Europe has plenty of traveling waters too, there are rivers and oceans everywhere. Between the fjords in Norway and the lakes in Sweden, how could Vikings not rule the waters of Europe?

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Vikings built different long ships for different voyages. It could take anywhere from a month to two months to construct a brand new long ship. Whether it was being used for deep ocean water, or shallower river water they would make different customizations to the long ship being created. They were made to be swift, manageable and durable; all of which it was. What determined where the long ships were going to be used was the draft. If the bottom of the boat was large it would be used for deeper waters, while if it's rather flat and not as big it could be used to sail up rivers or in lakes.

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One might wonder, how did the Long Ships make the Vikings so successful in the wrongs they were doing? Vikings were warriors, always equipped with swords, axes and spears. The long ships would carry the Viking team wherever they needed to go whether it was from England to Africa, or through little rivers of France. Spears and axes could be thrown from the long ships to hit enemies, and they could be easily docked so the Vikings could leave the ship and get whatever goods they came for. Once the Vikings raided and defeated their enemies, they'd board their long ship and nobody would catch them on the sea because everyone was either killed in the raid, they were afraid of the Vikings or their boat wasn't fast enough.

Building of Longships

The Vikings built the longships how no other ship had been built before. Instead of using a saw they used axes to turn oak wood in to thin planks. "They then fastened the boards with iron nails to a single sturdy keel and then to each other, one plank overlapping the next. The Vikings gave shape to the hull using this "clinker" technique rather than the more conventional method of first building an inner skeleton for the hull." Two cross beams were added, one for the rowing benches and one for the mass on the boat.

(Information via PBS.org)