Comment s'appellent les bateaux viking

What are the Viking ships called?

The legendary Viking ships

We often hear about Drakkars , invasions and raids about the Vikings. However, you should know that "Drakkar" is simply the French word used to designate a Nordic warship .
In this article we are going that there are three main classes of ships.

Without Viking ships, there would be no Viking Age.

Norse sagas, skaldic poems and contemporary foreign sources describe Viking ships as marvelous at sea :

  • Viking ships had flexible hulls, built of lapped planks , which cut through the waves with relaxing ease.
  • The best boats are compared to dragons, birds and sea serpents.
  • Viking ships could easily stand upright on a beach.

viking landing

“When Magnus the Good (1047) put his ships to sea, it was as if a swarm of angels from the Heavenly King had risen above the waves. ( The Skald Arnorr)

The Vikings sailed great distances with these ships, from America in the west, to Asia Minor in the east, and perhaps even further. So that only means one thing: Viking ships are unique and efficient for their time.

It was the seaworthiness of Viking ships , along with the Norse seafarers' knowledge of seafaring and seamanship, that enabled them to conquer the ocean. The Vikings' understanding of the sea is also reflected in the ancient Scandinavian language, which has around 150 words for waves.

Viking Cups and Horns

Very few Viking ships have been found

According to old Norwegian laws, the Norwegian leiðdang (defense fleet) could mobilize at least 310 ships in a crisis situation. Added to this are all the "private" Viking ships. Thus, several thousand boats were built during the Viking era . Unfortunately, today almost no historical trace remains.

The ships that were found are in several pieces. Often large parts are missing. We therefore rely on many different reconstructions and interpretations.

Therefore, we have to admit that we still don't know much about how Viking ships were built . Or how they were used and how the vikings sailed with them.

The different Viking ships

Warships – Longships: 3 Types (Snekke, Drekkkar, Skeid)

viking longship

Two of Roskilde's boats (remains of boats found in Denmark) were Viking warships . Another warship was also found in the port of Hedeby. This constitutes three valuable sources to help us learn more about the Viking Longship ( Warship ).

The 3 ships all have a shallow draft (small part below the surface of the water). They are all long and narrow in order to cut through the waves with ease. More importantly, they could accommodate up to 32 rowers. The warship appears to have been built primarily with the intent of being a seaworthy boat with oars . However, it had sails that could be hoisted and lowered as needed. It is the main ship used during raids and invasions on monasteries in Western Europe.

Although Viking ships ravaged Western Europe for centuries, they inevitably died out as they were replaced by more modern vessels.

Merchant ships carrying heavy cargo - (Knarr)

knarr viking

The Roskilde Fjord also included two Viking merchant ships. The largest was 16.5 meters long . It was constructed of pine and could carry up to 40 tons of cargo . Traces of similar merchant ships have been found at Åskeskårr in western Sweden, near Kaupang in Norway, and in the port of Hedeby.

All of these ships have similar characteristics. They were all wider than warships . They had a bigger, deeper hull for cargo, and they were clearly much more reliant on sailing than longships. The speed of these ships was clearly not a priority. The real priority was to have a seaworthy ship that could cross vast distances in the ocean without sinking. The oars were mainly used for entering and leaving a port.

Merchant Ships Carrying Light Cargo - (Byrding)

byrding viking

The needs of warriors and merchants who sailed to Eastern Europe were different. Indeed, they needed lighter and more maneuverable ships. They had to be able to navigate through Russian rivers , to Byzantium and the Caspian Sea.

These types of ships should also be light enough to be lifted out of the water for transport over rocky areas , shallow areas, and other obstacles.

Of course, these ships were used throughout Viking Age Scandinavia, but they were of paramount importance in Eastern Europe.

The small boats

The vast majority of boats used in the Viking Age were neither warships nor merchant ships. They were small boats useful for everyday life...

They are therefore boats designed for fishing , transporting people, goods and local information from one village to another. Some of these boats needed to travel along the coasts while others would have to travel through the network of rivers and lakes of the Nordic world.

Viking ships and Viking boats were key to the power and expansion of the Norse peoples .

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