Norway - Ian Brodie Photo
All images (C) Ian Brodie Photo
All Rights Reserved

Shapes and symbols
Museum of Cultural History

The Gokstad ship
The Gokstad ship was built in about 850, at the height of the Viking period. There was a need for ships that could serve many purposes and the Gokstad ship could have been used for voyages of exploration, trade and Viking raids. The ship could be both sailed and rowed. There are 16 oar holes on each side of the ship. With oarsmen, steersman and lookout, that would have meant a crew of 34. There is no sign of thwarts. The oarsmen probably sat on chests, which could also have held personal equipment.

The ship is made of oak and is clinker-built, with 16 rows of strakes. The nine strakes below the waterline are only two to three centimetres thick, making the sides both light and flexible. The keel is made of one straight piece of oak. The deck consists of pine planks that can be easily lifted, so that the crew could easily bale out water if needed. This also gave storage space for a little cargo.

White woollen cloth with red cloth strips sewn on was found in the forepart of the ship. This may have been the remains of the sail. At the time of burial, 32 shields were fixed to each side of the ship. They were painted yellow and black, alternately. The ends of the bow and stern posts had rotted away, so it is unclear how they were finished. There is nothing to indicate that dragon heads were fixed to them. But even without dragon heads, the Gokstad ship must have been an impressive sight when it came over the horizon in full sail.

Thanks to the Museum of Cultural History, Oslo, for this information
It is (C) to them.

Image of the DayNorwayOsloVikingMuseum

From Image of the Day