The Drakkar


Photo© Leon's January 2006

The Drakkar or dragon-ship (from Drage meaning Dragon and Kar meaning ship), was the largest of the Viking longships. Of clinker built construction, the longship was a low, sturdy, long, narrow, open galley with high stems and sterns with up to 40 oarsmen per side. The overlapping planks or strakes of the longship were nailed together using iron nails and caulked using strips of tarred rope or felted cowhide. The longship was of shallow draft which allowed for beaching of the craft, had a single side rudder on the aft end starboard side, and a large, decorated square-rigged sail, mounted on a single amidships mast. The Drakkar, built mainly of oak and spruce, ranged in length from 80 to 140 feet, had a breadth of 20 to 25 feet and carried a crew of up to 300 warriors. Rows of shields were often displayed along the gunwales of the Viking ships and wind vanes in the form of birds were placed at the tops of the masts. The most common design for the stem post was the dragon head and the stern and sides of the boat were often decorated as well.

See Also

Viking Ships
Medieval ships
Medieval Shipping
History of Navigation

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