How fast were Viking ships

The ships of the Vikings

The agile attackers

The boats of the Vikings, the best troop transports of their time, were so well built that the Scandinavians could dock with them at lightning speed as if out of nowhere, attack, make rich booty and immediately retreat before the attacked defenders effectively let organize.

The attacks were always very targeted, and the Vikings also avoided attacking defensive facilities. The boats were the engines of the Viking Age, without the superior ships the historical phenomenon "Vikings" would not have existed.

On the way with the longboat

The Vikings were great boat builders and far ahead of their time in the nautical field. For the exchange of goods and trade, they used pot - bellied merchant and cargo ships, the so - called "knots" or "plank ox", as the Icelanders called them.

In addition, they developed the famous longships, which particularly caught the eye because of their rich stem decorations with snakes and dragon heads.

The longboats were fast, light and agile warships or combat ships with which the Vikings went on raids. Equipped with keel and riveted planks, with stiffened boat hulls, constructed in the typical clinker brick construction - i.e. overlapping like roof tiles - the longships had a high degree of strength and elasticity.

Sails and oars were used for locomotion. The boats had a sailing mast that could be folded down in a very short time. The ships quickly picked up speed due to their lightweight construction. Their draft was no more than 1.5 meters and they could reach speeds of around 20 knots.

So the Vikings got along with their long boats on all waters: on the open sea, on large rivers, but also in smaller waters.

And if an inland waterway did not continue, the boat was shouldered by the crew and carried to the next arm of the water, where the journey could then be continued. In this way, the Vikings advanced deep into the interior of the country.

The Vikings as explorers

The Vikings may even have discovered America - half a millennium before Columbus came. The Viking Bjarne Herjolfsson is said to have been the first European to discover America (around the year 985). Bjarne Herjolfsson intended to go to Greenland, but a storm brought him to the coast of Labrador, Canada.

Based on his stories, Leif Eriksson (992) set out on a journey. He landed on the coast of Newfoundland and named this land Vinland (wine country). The Vikings at least had compass-like navigation aids at the time. They were also familiar with the tides.