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Viking Ship.



The Viking Longship or Dragon Ship as the were sometimes called were developed by the Vikings and Danes of Scandinavian, they were eminently suitable to the roll they played during the period of Norse expansion from the eighth to tenth centuries, when perhaps because of overpopulation at home they sought new territories to colonize.

They were categorized by the number of oars they carried, the smallest 'The Snekkja' would have had about thirty oars Wood was used in their construction using lap-strake also known as clinch-built or clinker-built, the keel together with the stem and stern posts were set up on the keel, on top of the keel the hog was fixed this was wider than the keel, on the hog the frames or ribs were assembled, although only a few may have been used initially to keep the shape of the hull when planking. These structural members were held together with wooden pegs or trennels 'Tree nails' these were round pegs which may have been made on a pole lathe, they were dried and driven into holes drilled in the two pieces of wood to be joined the ends were cut off flush and a wedge driven into each end of the peg, when the ship was launched the peg would expand making it virtually impossible to remove.

The next stage was to plank the hull, the planks would have been split off a log using wedges, these were then smoothed and shaped, possibly using an adze each pair of planks being a different shape as they progressed up the hull. The first plank known as the garboard was attached to the bottom of the hog which overlapped the keel, the builders then continued plank after plank overlapping each successive one until the hull was complete. In boats built up to the tenth century and a little later the planks were lashed to the frames after that date pegs (described above) were used, later still iron nails were used. This type of construction produced a hull that was light, strong and flexible.

The ship was fitted with a mast set a little foreword of amidships, this was stayed with ropes fore and aft and carried a yard (Horizontal spar) which could be raised or lowered by ropes, to the yard was attached a square sail, this rig would not have enabled the ship to sail into the wind as a modern yacht is capable of doing, rather they probably could sail at ninety degrees to the wind probably making considerable leeway. They were steered by a rudder or steer board hung on the right hand side of the ship near the stern, the projecting rudder on the right of the ship forced it to dock with its left side to a jetty, giving us our terms for the sides of a ship, port and starboard which is a corruption of steerboard.

The narrow hulls of the Viking ships gave them speed, their relatively shallow draught made them maneuverable when rowed and enabled them to proceed up rivers to the heart of Ireland. Their stem and stern posts were often carved with mythological creatures, when underway the rowers attached their shields to the side of the ship, presumably giving them protection not only from the elements but also from attack.