oxford big ideas geography | history 8:
Viking skills and achievements
A Norwegian shipbuilder carving a stern post (back)using the same methods his Viking ancestors did more than athousand years ago
A dragon head on the prow (front)of a replica Viking longship in Norway
The Vikings were highly skilled craftspeople. They builtseagoing ships and made their own weapons and armour.These skills increased their success in trade and, later, inthe search for and conquest of new lands.
The Vikings were expert shipbuilders with easy accessto the timber of Scandinavia’s forests. They built tradeships, ferries, rowing boats,
shing vessels and ceremoniallongships such as the
6.14).By the end of the 8th century, Vikings had beensailing as merchants for some time. They were skilled atnavigating, using the sun and stars, weather patterns,bird-
ight trails and coastal features as guides. Inother words, they were well placed to be either seatraders or sea pirates. Their strong navigational andshipbuilding skills gave them all the expertise theyneeded to make and sail ef
cient warships. Theseincluded the
they used for lightning raids.The Vikings called them
– meaning ‘dragon’.
Longships were up to twice as long as trade ships (upto about 37
metres in length). With a thinner, lighterhull, they could carry 100
warriors (68 of whom wereoarsmen; 34 on each side). Being so light, the longshipswere easily able to be carried overland when necessary.
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