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According to the myths, the dragon ships were rowed by more than a hundred men.
A drawing of the shipwreck finding near the Lapuri island
The Vikings were almost better at handling the rudder than the plough. They where skillful shipbuilders and excellent navigators.
The time called the Viking age begun ca 800 AD when the people in Scandinavia started to travel overseas to trade, but also to rob and conquer.
Because of their superiority as seamen and soldiers the Vikings conquered land after land. Only after a couple of hundred years the European people learned how to fight the Vikings successfully, and the Viking age ended in the middle of the 11th century.
The reason why the Scandinavians were so superior at sea was that they invented the keel. Boats with a keel could not only be rowed, but sailed as well. Thanks to the keel the ships could be built wider and more seaworthy, but still with a small draught. The steering oar was located at the rear on the right side of the boat.
It is not known how high the ships was, but probably not very high. The sail had the same shape as the square sail of the fully rigged ships of later times. The advantages of a small sail and low mast were many, for example that demand on the staying was smaller, as was also the need of ballast. The hull of the boat was reinforced with beams so to better endure the pressure of the mast, the freeboard was made higher so that the boat could lurch/wobble without taking in water.
The Vikings had different vessels for different
purposes. They had big broad ships for trading trips overseas, and
smaller freight vessels for journeys in safer waters, fishing boats and
naturally the well known long, narrow and fast warships.
Plenty of ships from the Viking age have been found, and they give a good picture of the Vikings shipbuilding skills. The most famous ships are the Gokstads- and Osebergsships in Norway. Only one wreck from the Viking age has been found in Finland. It is a 12- meter long ship that lies at the bottom of the sea, near the Lapuri island in the Gulf of Finland, close to the eastern border. The ship at Lapuri is not very well preserved, but marine archaeologist Harry Alopaeus has after years of research succeeded to make a realistic drawing of the ship. Viikinkiajan Laiva ry has built an exact copy of the ship, which is called Sotka.
Even if the ships were seaworthy, they did not have cabins or any conveniences. At sea everybody had to sleep on deck, maybe under a canvas. The Vikings had good knowledge in astronomy and could navigate to distant places over the seas, but when ever possible they sailed along costs and through archipelagos. There they could go ashore for the night and have a little more comfort by raising tents and making a camp. The Eastern route of the Vikings which passed the Hitis archipelago south of Kimito island was one of these fairly safe routes. One advantage of these sheltered routes was that it was easy to find a harbour if surprised by fog or storm.
The Rosala Viking Centre harbours two reconstructed Viking ships, the warship Alvilda and a smaller boat called Hogland.
Alvilda was built in Saaremaa in Estonia, and came to the Viking Centre in the spring of 2004. It is 17 meters long and 4 meters wide and weighs about 14 tons when at sea. It is built out of larch and oak.
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