Wednesday, June 18, 2008

The Vikings ~ Sailors Extraordinaire

In days of yore, it was the custom to bury Viking warriors in their vessels, which were dragged ashore for the purpose. Built in 900 A.D. and unearthed in 1880, the Gokstad ship was found almost entirely intact. It was built in an overlapping timber style, called "clinker", and since metal was scarce, the planks were tied to the ribs with tree roots. Twine made from cows' hair was used for caulking, and if anyone doubts the seaworthiness of such a vessel, doubt no more. Built to carry 32 oarsmen, an exact replica of the original Gokstad ship was built for display at the Chicago World's Columbian Exposition in 1893. It was sailed across the Atlantc from Bergen, Norway, and from all reports, it handled beautifully and made good time.

The original Gokstad ship is on display at Oslo's Viking Ship Museum. The photograph is of the replica built for the 1893 Chicago Expo.

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