Viking Ship 780 – 1100 – Special Vikings Ships Types and Uses

Viking Ship Uses

Viking ships were built during the Viking Age (780 – 1100) when the Vikings ranged long and far from their Scandinavian homelands.

Viking used their ships for raiding, trading and traveling.

The special ships constructed by the Vikings, including the iconic long ship, helped the Vikings in launching raids, traveling in shallow waters and achieving the element of surprise in warfare.

For this reasons, Viking ships are considered an important part of the Viking culture.


The Viking Long Ship

Long ship was the type of ship most commonly used by the Vikings.

It was used for assaults and quick landings. A long ship had shallow and fluffy drafts that could be landed at any place without the requirement for a harbor.

It was essentially a long, swift, graceful, strong and wide shallow draft hull.

Vikings constructed these ships as elegant vessels.

Long ships had oarsmen who used oars to navigate her through the water.

Typically, a long ship had 16 rowers on each side. These men would powerfully use the oars to achieve speeds of up to 15 knots.

The Benefits of a Viking Long ship

As the long ships were small, slim and worked fine in shallow water, Vikings could row or sail them 100 or more miles inland.

This enabled them to launch attacks inland, reach sea islands and land without any available harbors.

It also granted them the element of surprise as they could land anywhere, taking the enemy unawares.

The Long ships were powered by both paddles and winds.

They were symmetrical twofold finished, which enabled them to switch bearing without pivoting.

Knarr – Viking Ship

These were Viking ships built for crossing the Atlantic with room for livestock, tools and a large number of people.

These ships were typically 54 feet long and could carry cargo of up to 122 tons.

This made them substantially larger than the long ships. Knarr ships would rely on wind for power and the oars were only used during landings.

These ships also fared better in rough seas and offered a safer mode of journey.

Construction of a Viking Ship

Viking ships such as the long ships needed to be strong yet light and seaworthy at the same time.

The Vikings achieved this by using clinker construction in which split oak planks were used for the hull.

Iron rivets were used to rivet the planks together while caulking was applied to ensure that the ship was waterproof.

Faering and the Viking Ship

Faering were the open row boats used by the Vikings.

These typically used two pairs of oars.

Faering boats would occasionally carry a small sail.

These boats were pointed at both ends and made out of wood.

The frame was built like a shell into which ribs were assembled.

The length was mostly 3.4 m to 5.2 m. It was a light weight boat often less than 80 to 90 kg.

Summary of the Viking Ship

  • Viking used a variety of ships – these include long ships, knarr ships and other vessels.
  • Long ships were typically used for raiding and warfare. They were slim, strong, rapid and typically manned by 16 oarsmen on each side.
  • Long ships allowed Vikings to launch rapid raids and range more than 100 miles inland on shallow rivers and water bodies.
  • Long ships also allowed Vikings to land on harbor less waters.
Share this: