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Timeline from logboats to seagoing drakkars.
|This timeline lists ship finds that
represent increments in the development of the
vikingships, as seen in a norwegian perspective. Making
this list is a slowly progressing hobby-project, and it
should not be regarded as a complete list of all
findings. Click here to see a map of where
the different finds were done >.
The Bronze Age
Two different techologies seem to have existed side by side in this period; the dugout logboat and the skinboat. Rock carvings in Norway and Sweden 1500 - 400 BC shows petroglyphs which can be interpreted as both kind of boats.
The skinboat was a light and simple
construction, made of thin branches which formed a
framework. Tanned skin from larger animals was wrapped
around the framework and stiched together with animal
guts. Such boats could be made on short notice during all
seasons from simple resources. One did not need metal
tools to axe the branches into shape, but could solve the
task with sharp stone tools. In the southern Scandinavia
flint was the preferred stone for tools, but was uncommon
in northern areas. Artefacts of flint are rare north of
62* N. Quartz takes over for flint in the north. The thin
branches for making a skinboat could be found nearly
everywhere, also in the northern areas and high above the
sea level. Rock carvings scattered all over Scandinavia
shows that people hunted large preys like moose, deer and
reindeer. Their skins was used to make clothes, tents,
boats and sleds. In such areas will the skinboat be the
natural choice. For many tasks the skinboat would
probably be preferred over logboats because they are so
easy to make and maintain. But their limited cargo
capability is a major drawback. The lack of a solid
backbone in their internal structure, like a strong keel,
prevents the skinboats to be developed into large ships.
The skinboats were propelled by paddles, not by oars.
Logboats were also used already in the stone age, presumably in parallel with the skinboats in large parts of Scandinavia. Archaelogical finds of logboats have been found many places, like the Bingen boat from Glomma in Norway, another boat at Kongsberg, and several boats in Denmark and Sweden. These boats resemble each other a lot. Basically they are made of a thick and straight trunk of a large tree which have been dug out by axes and adzes to form a hollow trunk. In each end there is usually a hole for a rope. Such logboats have been found in many other areas around the world too, so they are not unique to Scandinavia. The idea of hollowing a log may have emerged independantly of each other in several parts of the world, some time in the stone age. In its simples form the log could be dug out with a simple stone axe, mounted on an angled wooden shaft.
The expanded logboat
The logboats found in Norway so far
shows no signs of being expanded after the dugout
process. The size of such boats are then limited by the
size of the log itself, especially the diameter.
The expanded logboat is predessor to the later lapstrake boats with almost identical joints between the ribs and the hull. Even the 10th century Gokstads ship has cleats and lashes.
Both skinboats and logboats may have been fitted with outriggers to increase stability. One of the images on my petroglyph page may display a simple canoe with an outrigger. The carving is from Skjeberg in Østfold, Norway. The other carvings can be interpreted differently, as the vertical lines can be taken for both ribs in a skin boat, which would be visible from the outside, or the ribs inside of a lapstrake boat, like the Hjortspring boat.
1500 BC - The Dover boat (England)
In 1992 a remarkable discovery was made
in Dover in the southern part of England. Excavations
revealed a boat made of six large parts of oak, which
were worked to form a hull. The longest timbers measured
9,5 m, but overall length of the boat may have been about
14 m. The timbers were roughly shaped with bronze adzes,
with large cleats on the inside. The timbers were sewn
together with ropes of yew, and proofed with thin wooden
lathes and moss in between. The two bottom timbers were
additionally secured with ribs fitted transversely by
lashings to carved cleats protuding from the timber.
300 BC - The Hjortspring boat (Denmark)
Found in a marsh in Als in Denmark.
Built around 300 BC, 19 m long, 2 m wide war canoe,
paddled by a crew of 20 - 24 men, height from sea level
to gunwhale 40 cm, constructed of 5 broad planks of lind
sewn together and jointed egde over edge, 13 m long
hollowed bottom plank, double stems in both ends, keel is
missing, long clamps for interior framework, loose
steering oar. The bottom plank is made of a dugout log,
and expanded by fire and water.
170 BC The Bingen logboat
Found in Glomma, Norway. This boat was a dugout logboat of oak 10 m long. Conserved at the Norwegian Maritime Museum. This is the oldest logboat found so far in Norway.
80 AD - The Manger IV boat
Location Mangersnes, Radøy, Hordaland,
Norway. Fragment of interior rib from a boat which must
have been constructed with lashed clamps for the ribs and
covered with planks sewn together with animal tendons.
185 AD (+- 75 yrs.) - The Manger II boat
As the ship above this was also found
in Mangersnes, Radøy, Hordaland, Norway. Seagoing rowing
boat. The remains of a boat where found in a marsh in
1986 - 1996. Among the remains one rib 1.85 m wide. The
boat had naturally grown ribs with lashes identical to
the Hjortspring boat. 5 strakes on each side of the
bottom plank, which have been sewn together with bast
from lind. The planks were 23 - 25 cm wide, the bottom
plank 30 cm wide in each end and 60 cm at the middle. The
hull was stabilized with crossbeams forming the seats for
the crew. Rowlocks (no. "keiper") have not been
found, but rowlocks C14 dated from the same period have
been found in the same area. The boat was probably rowed
with the rowers sitting in the movement direction of the
boat. Overall length ca 15 m, width 2,5 m, weight ca 1500
kg, probably 9 pairs of oars.
250 AD - The Valderøy boat
Found in a mound at the Jangarden farm in the island Valderøya, Giske, Sunnmøre, Norway. The mound "Kongshaugen" (The Kings mound) was excavated in 1824-27. Remains of strakes from a boat was found along with bones and ash. The strakes of pine had been sewn with animal guts and tightened with wool.
320 AD - The Nydam boat - Denmark - The oldest iron clinkered boat
Found in marsh in Nydam Mose, Southern
Jylland, Denmark (todays Schleswig, Germany), built in
the 4.th og 5.th century, 23 m long, 3.75 m wide, weight
8800 kg, Iron clinkered sea going rowing boat with
support for the oars along the gunwhale. Crewed by 30
rowers and one steering man, lashed clamps for the
interior frames, height from sea to gunwhale 60 cm,
rugged bottom plank, exterior rudder oar. Excavated in
1863. Dendrodated to 320 AD (2010).
400+ AD - The Halsnøy boat
Found in Øvre Tofte, Halsnøy,
Kvinnherad, Hordaland, Norway in 1896. Clinker built in
oak. A lot in common with the Nydam boat. Found in a
marsh, but only little remaines. Only a couple strakes,
one rowlock and one rib was taken care of. The boat was a
rowing boat with a wide bottom plank of pine and two
strakes on each side. Lashed clamps. The strakes were
sewn with rope of bast. Tightened with wool proofed with
tar between the strakes.
Mangersnes, Radøy, Hordaland, Norway (more++).
The Merovinger age
630 AD - The Sutton Hoo ship (England)
Found in Woodbridge, Suffolk, Eastern
England. Built around 630 AD. Length 27 m, width 4.25 m,
Clinkerbuilt boat for rowing with seagoing capabilities,
17 - 20 pairs of oars. The archaeological excavations in
1939 of the mound revealed the richest findings ever
discovered in England. The boat is very similiar to the
Nydam boat. The artifacts found indicates clear evidence
of cultural connection and mutual influence between
Scandinavia and the Anglo-saxon culture in England. Maybe
this boat was built somewhere in southern Scandinavia?
690 AD - The Kvalsund ship
Two boats were found in Herøy, Norway.
Built late in the 7.th century, but not yet dendrodated.
The larger boat: Length 18 m, width 3.2 m. Rowing boat
for 20 men, exterior rudder oar, reinforced bottom plank.
In shape this boat was clearly more round than the Nydam
boat, thus capable of carrying more load. The frames were
attached with wooden plug, the clamps were lashed. The
rudder pin went through the rear rib and the hull on the
right side at the rear, allowing some flex both sideways
and around its axis.
771 AD - The Storhaug ship (a.k.a. the Gunnarshaug ship)
Avaldsnes, Nord-Karmøy, Rogaland,
Norway. "Storhaugen" (The Great Mound)
at Gunnarshaugen farm contained a ship of the same size
as the Gokstad ship. Length estimated to have been 23 -
780 AD - The Grønhaug ship (a.k.a. The Bø ship)
Found at the Haugo farm, Karmsund,
Rogaland, Norway."Grønhaugen" (The Green
Mound) in Bø concealed a ship 15 m long. The ship
had no traces of any mast and commonly interpreted as a
rowing ship with oar ports in the sheerstrake. However,
the foreship was slightly wider than the aft ship, which
suggests that the ship may have been rigged. The mound
was excavated in 1902, but was found looted. The remains
of this ship is stored in a museum storage in Bergen
together with the Storhaug ship. Dendrochronological
(tree ring) analysis have determined that the timber was
felled around 780 AD.
The Viking age
820 AD - The Oseberg ship
Buried in a mound in Slagen in Vestfold, Norway in 834 AD. Felling year of ship timber dendrodated to 820 AD. Iron clinkered hull in oak. Length 21.5 m, beam 5.0 m, 15 pairs of oars, height from sea level to gunwhale 0.65 m, the keel was jointed, mast height ca 9 m, area of the sail ca 6 m x 12 m, lenght of mast partner 1,75 m lang, weight 11 ton. Attachments for ropes to the mast were found in rear part of the ship. The mound was excavated in 1904, revealing a nearly complete ship and rich finds of grave goods. Tree ring analysis from 2009 corresponds well with dendrochronological series from south western Norway. More info and pictures of the Oseberg ship.
Ca 860 AD - The Fjørtoft boats
Found at Fjørtoft, Møre and Romsdal,
Norway. Two boats were found in the marsh in Fjørtoft in
1940. They must have been put there by purpose, because
the larger boat was filled with stones. The boats were
probably built in the middle of the 9th century (C14
dated to 860 AD). Lashing cleats for the ribs are
missing. Instead, the ribs are secured with treenails.
The larger boat was a rowing boat with 10 pairs of oars.
It was clinkerbuilt in oak. Length 10 m. See images of a Fjørtoft boat
ca. 880 AD - The Gokstad ship
Found at the Gokstad and Gjekstad farms
in Sandefjord, Vestfold, Norway. The ship was a
"karfi" built around 850 AD, and buried in 890
AD, verified by treering dating of the burial chamber. It
was very well preserved in the mound because clay was
used to cover the hull before the mound itself was built.
The ship had clearly been in use for some time before the
burial. Overall length 23.8 m, width 5.2 m, deplacement
20 ton. Height from sea level to gunwhale was 1.10 m. The
keel was made of one piece of oak 17 m long. The hull was
clinker-built of oak strakes. It had 16 pairs of oars.
The oars went through shuttable posts in the third strake
from the top. The rugged mast base was 5.5 m long
spanning over 6 ribs. Height of mast is uncertain but
commonly believed to have been 10 - 12 m. The ship was
buried around 900 AD in "Kongshaugen" (The
Kings Mound) which was excavated in 1880, revealing
rich grave goods. Three smaller boats were found in
pieces inside the large ship. The faering and the seksring are reconstruced.
900 AD - The Tune ship
Found in Haugen/Rostad Rolvsøy,
Østfold, Norway. Clinker-built karv (karfi)
from the last part of the 9th century or early after 900
AD. Length 19 - 20 m, width 4.35 m. The hull was made of
oak and had 12 pairs of oars, the oars went through the
hull in the upper strake. 12 strakes in all on each side.
Length of keel ca 14 m. The base for the mast was very
rugged, suggesting that the ship had a rig without
shrouds to the gunwhale. Height from sea level to top of
the gunwhale was probably 70 cm. The ship was buried in
"Båthaugen" (The Boat Mound) which
was excavated in 1867.
998 AD - The Klåstad ship
Found in the fjord at Klåstad, Tjølling, Vestfold, Norway. Built 998 AD. Length ca 21 m, width 4,5 m, clinkerbuilt trade vessel, ribs and strakes attached with wooden plugs. The 7th strake was reinforced - a meginhufr - the strong strake. Rowlocks along the gunwhale, but no base for a mast suggests that the ship was rowed only. Excavated in 1970 by prof. A.E. Christensen.
1000 - Skuldelev 1 wreck (Denmark)
Found sunken in shallow water in the Roskilde fjord in Denmark together with several other ships. They have problably been sunken there by purpose to form a barricade. Built in the second half of the 10th century or around 1000 AD. The ship was a knórr, which was a load carrier well suited for crossing oceans on trading travels.The hull was clinker-built from pine with a more rounded shape than the longships. The site of the finding was excavated in 1962 by dry-docking the whole area around the wrecks. Materials used in this boat was pine, oak and lind.Length 16.0 m, width 4.8 m, deployment without cargo 0.6 m, with cargo 1.3 m. Deplacement 36 ton incl. fully loaded, cargo 20-24 ton, oarpairs 2-4, crew 6 - 8 men, area of sail ca. 90 m², cruisings speed ca. 5 knots, top speed ca. 13 knots. Built around 1030 in western Norway. Ca. 60% of the hull is preserved.
1025-26 Roskilde 6 longship (Denmark)
In 1997 a wrecked longship was found in the harbour at the Roskilde viking ship museum. The ship had sunk close to land, probably during a storm. The excavations revealed bottom strakes from a poorly preserved longship. It was radiocarbon dated to about 1025 AD, and was in 2010 confirmed by dendrodating to 1025 as the year for felling of the ship timber . Analysis of the provenance of the oak timber indicates that the ship was built in Vestfold, Norway. (N. Bonde, Natmus, DK, NNU rapport nr.3 2010) Its overall length is estimated to 37 meters. Beam 3,7 m. It had 30 pairs of oars or more. Roskilde 6 is the largest warship from the viking age found so far. The research analysis by 2010 suggests that it had 39 rooms, corresponding to 78 rowers, which points to the 40 room large flagship of Haakon Jarl Eiriksson, mentioned in the Saga of Olav the Holy. It is also possible that Roskilde 6 is identical to "Visundr" that according to the saga was built for king Olav Haraldsson in the winter of 1026. (N. Bonde & F.A. Stylegard: http://www.nrk.no/nyheter/distrikt/sorlandet/1.7428766)
1042 - The Skuldelev 2 wreck (Denmark) - longship
Found in the Roskilde fjord in Danmark along with the other Skuldelev wrecks. Built in 1042 in Dublin, Ireland. Length was 30 m which makes this ship the largest viking ship ever found. Width 3.8 m. Deployment 0.9 m. Deplacement ca. 30 ton fully equipped. The hull was clinker-built of pine strakes with 30 pairs of oars. Crew 70 - 80 men. Area of the sail ca 120 m². Average cruising speed ca. 6 knots. Top speed 15 - 20 knots. Today about 25% of the hull is preserved. It is exhibited in the Vikingship museum in Roskilde, Denmark.
Other major ship finds in Norway
The Borre ship - ca 950 AD
Found in 1852 in Borre, Vestfold,
Norway. It was buried in a mound, but the ship was too
damaged to exactly determine its size. Probably at the
same size as the 21 m long Tune ship.
The Rostad ship
Rostad, Rolvsøy, Østfold. Remains of a ship was found in a mound at the Skjeberg farm in Rostad in 1751 by the people on the farm. The ship was referred to as "a large ship", perhaps about 20 m long. The ship had clinkerbuilt hull made of oak strakes. Bones from humans and animals were found onboard along with some grave goods. Today the mound is completely levelled and gone. By the time of the finding it was probably not fully understood tha this ship was from the viking age.
The Valle ship
Found at Valle farm in Østfold, Norway. Remains of a ship was found in a building site in 1894. Some wood and a large number of iron nails were found along with some grave goods. A swordhandle with anglo saxon ornaments and a weight balance with lead weights were taken care of. This boat grave is probably from around 900 AD or a bit later.
The Myklebust ship - 10th century AD
Remains of a large ship was found at the Myklebust farm in Nordfjordeid, Norway at the excavation in 1903. The ship was burned before the remains were buried in the centre of a large mound. The large number of nails and their size and many iron parts of shields suggests that the ship was at least 25 m long. This makes the ship one of the largest ships ever found in Norway. Several other large mounds were in the same area, but have been destroyed by farming before any excavations have been done. These mounds indicate that Nordfjord have been a political and cultural centre in the viking age, but so far no historical persons can be attached to these findings.
Two approaching excavations in Norway
("Halvdan's mound") at Stein farm, Ringerike,
eastern Norway is perhaps covering a ship about 20 m
long. In the legends this mound is said to be one of four
memorial mounds over Halvdan Svarte (the Black). He died
about 860 AD and was the father of Harald Hårfagre
(Fairhair), the first king of Norway. In 1977 the area
was examined with georadar, indicating a boat-like shape
in the lower layers of the mound. Further investigations
will probably be done in 2005.
Another mound at Rom, Slagendalen,
Tønsberg, Norway, may also hide a ship from the viking
age. This mound is only 1,5 km from the mound where the
Oseberg ship was found. Pre-examinations with georadar
show contours of a ship about 20 m long. The radar
pictures also shows signs of looting of the grave. The
lower layers of the mound are believed to contain clay,
which gives good conditions for preserving wooden
Comprehensive list of modern replicas: http://www.abc.se/~m10354/bld/replicas.htm
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|Copyright 2003 Jørn Olav Løset, Norway. E-mail:||joeolavl||@||online.no|