The Legendary Viking Serpents

Posted by Ms Elly on

The Legendary Viking Serpents

In fact, Viking serpents were the other names for Viking ships. Without the huge and majestic ships, the Viking age would not have been so much great and famous. The Viking ships must have been one of the most wonderful technical and artistic achievements at that times. 

Ships might have been the most important part of the Viking society. Because ships were not only to serve as a means of transportation and voyaging but they also became the symbols of the Vikings. Ships were liked by the Vikings for they helped the Vikings to carry out the actions of raids which they considered to be the most honorable thing to do in their life. Ships were used to decorate the jewelry, to make coins, or to show up in memorial stones. Viking people if wealthy could be buried with their own ships. Or the Vikings created the ship-like stones in order to place in the grave of the deceased. 

Image of Viking serpents

Viking serpent

There were two types of Viking ships: langskip (warships) and knörr (merchant ships). But what made these types of Viking ships different from each other? 

The langskip (warships) was designed to be narrower, longer, and shallower than the knörr (merchant ships). A warship was powered by oars. There were usually 16 rowers on each side. The design of a warship was for maneuverability and speed and this type of ship was completely open. This design must have been based on the practical purpose of the warship. Meanwhile, merchant ships were partly covered and were powered by sail. What merchant ships focused on was the cargo carrying capability. Shields were placed on the side of the warship (around the gunwale). This might have been provided them with additional protection against the winds and waves. Coins and depictions from the Viking times showed that the Vikings arrayed the shields along the gunwales; however, many disagreed with this saying that this method was too impractical to be true. One reason listed was that shields prevented oars from being flexibly used. Perhaps, shields were only displayed when the ships carrying Viking warriors into the battles to exude the majesty when approaching. 

The oars of the ships were commonly made of pine with the flat and narrow blade which enabled the rowers to use the oar easily. Because of the waterline, the oar holes were not in the same distance. Accordingly, the length of oars varied a lot. 

Image of Viking knorr merchant ships

Depiction of Viking merchant ship

There were times that the Vikings fought with their enemies when standing on the deck of their warships. 

Merchant ships of the Vikings were powered by sail. There were oars to be used though often in landing only. The capacity of the Viking merchant ships allowed the Viking to carry many things inside, not only the luxury goods but also many daily objects in bulk quantities for trade. 

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