The boats I’ve shown you so far were all trading vessels, but when I’ve thought of Vikings, I’ve always had a picture in my mind of the longboat that was used by the warriors for marauding.
Before we walked outside, we spent some time indoors, examining Skuldelev #2-4, a Viking Longboat:
The Viking Longboat was extremely narrow for its length which allowed it to move very fast through the water. This Longboat is 100 feet long, but had a beam of only 15 feet and a draft of only 3!
It was determined by the curators (using tree-ring dating and other methods) that this boat was constructed around the year 1042 A.D. in Dublin, Ireland. It was manned by a crew of 60 and sailed at an average speed of 5 knots, able to beat 60° into the wind, but capable of maintaining a rowing speed of 2.5 knots directly into the wind under oar.
The replica of Skuldelev #2-4 has been sailed back and forth between England and Roskilde, where it is currently moored. We went aboard.
The warriors were also the sailors, seated two-to-a-bench on 30 rows of benches. The mast could be easily stepped, allowing for faster speed and better maneuverability while being rowed.
Nearby, the museum reproduced the ropes that were used as sheetlines, halyards and stays. The lines and halyards were normally made out of a material called Raffia from the bark of the lime tree, but the standing rigging – the stays – were made out of more exotic stuff, like the seal skin shown in this photo…
…or the horse hair shown in this one:
As we left the museum, we passed this rowing machine (it made us think of Kelly’s boyfriend, Casey, who crewed in high school):
Just picture this thing, filled with horn-helmeted, ferocious Vikings, in a race down the River Thames against the crew team from Cambridge.