Engineering History: How Vikings Made Ships

By: | July 17th, 2013

Osebergskiy Drakkar

Osebergskiy Drakkar (Image Courtesy

Vikings are known as fearless warriors, but they wouldn’t have gotten anywhere without being great shipbuilders. Norse ship design was passed down from father to son from generation to generation as the art was developed and refined.


According to Jorn Loset of Norway, most skills and knowledge were passed down verbally without any drawings or diagrams. Traditional boat making before the Vikings involved the use of timber formed into strakes or ribs.

The Vikings built the shell first and added strakes and internal timbers at the end. The earliest boats were waterproofed with animal guts, which also served to bind the strakes together. Eventually iron became available for boatbuilders around the eighth century.

The following video shows the building of a present day Viking ship using the same techniques as originally used. Types of tools used by Vikings are discussed.

Slide Show of Viking Ships

David Russell Schilling

David enjoys writing about high technology and its potential to make life better for all who inhabit planet earth.

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