Iceland is a majestic country known for its natural marvels such as active volcanoes, diamond beaches, and powerful cascading waterfalls. But did you know Iceland has a rich Viking history? You can see the imposing Islendingur Viking Ship in a Viking Exhibit at a ship museum. It is an impressive replica of the original Gokstad Viking Ship. This replica was famously sailed in the year 2000 across the Atlantic Ocean to New York. The voyage was in honor of Leifur Eriksson who was the first European to step foot on North American soil.
The Islendingur Viking Ship
Iceland was uninhabited and undisturbed until the first Norwegian Viking settlers arrived. Vikings are typically known for their toughness and penchant to pillage and raid other countries. However, these Vikings chose to stop raiding countries and decided to settle down for a new life in an unspoiled land. Making this formidable and contrasting land their home is a testament to the fortitude of the Vikings. They became successful farmers and were led by wealthy aristocrats who owned ships and had the power to attract more settlers. Read on to learn more about the fascinating Viking Era and how to visit the famous Islendingur Viking Ship.
Visit a Viking Ship
People should add visit a Viking ship to their bucket list. If it is not on your list, according to sources like National Geographic, it should be. The Viking World Museum also called Vikingaheimar it is conveniently located near Keflavík airport. Admission tickets start from 1350 Icelandic Krona (9.70 euros and 10.66 USD). There are four interesting exhibits. The first is called The Icelander, which makes the Viking World Museum the home of the magnificent Islendingur Viking Ship. Gunnar Marel Eggertsson built this vessel and he boldly sailed it from Iceland to New York. It was to commemorate Leifur Eriksson who sailed the same journey 1000 years earlier.
The original ship was called Gokstad and it was found among ancient burial mounds in 1882 in Norway. It was well preserved and allowed scientists to estimate it was built around A.D. 870. This was when first settlers arrived to Iceland. So it is safe to assume other ships built in this timeframe were similar. During the Viking Era, a ship the size of the Icelander would need a crew of 70 people. There were many interesting features on this boat for example sandpits for open fires and space for livestock. The livestock was used for fresh meat during very long voyages.
Boats Built to Last
The Iceland vessel is built like the authentic Viking ships so it’s presumably equally fast and stable on water. Construction started in October 1994 and was finished in 1996. The vessel is comprised of pine and oak from Norway and Sweden. The Icelander is composed of 18 tons of wood and 5,000 nails. It is 75 feet long (22.5m), beam is 17.3 feet (5.3m) and the draft is 5.6 feet (1.7m). High speed is 18mph and an average of 7mph. Before sailing, they used it as an educational tool for Icelandic children to learn the traditional epic sagas. And also when it came back.
Viking World Museum
After walking through the Icelander exhibit there are three more to enjoy. The second exhibit includes stories about the Vikings of North Atlantic and how they were seafaring people. The third exhibit is called the Settlement of Iceland and highlights of a structure was a farmhouse or outpost. The last exhibit is called the Fate of the Gods and focuses on Norse Mythology and myths. This dynamic exhibit brings those long-ago tales to life with stunning visuals, dynamic storytelling, and themed music. In the summer there is even a “Settlement Zoo” showing domestic Icelandic animals such as lambs, goats, rabbits, and ducks.
The Edøy Ship
In 2019 The Norwegian Institute for Cultural Heritage found a ship buried dating back to the Merovingian Period or Viking Era. The ship burial ground was found in Edøy in Norway. Archeologists from the Norwegian Institute for Cultural Heritage (NIKU) made the discovery. The ship remains are below the topsoil but they can see part of the hull.
This 1000-year-old ship was discovered by high-resolution georadar measurements. The new technology is very exciting and expands the possibility of finding more preserved Viking ships. Before this finding, there were only three well-preserved buried Viking Ships found in Norway. For example, the Oseberg Ship is another ship from Norway at the Viking Ship Museum in Oslo.
Norway is also innovating through their development of the Stad Ship Tunnel. They designed this tunnel to make it safer for ships to pass through the Stadhavet Sea. Specifically at the juncture of where the North and Norwegian seas meet.
Types of Viking Ships
Viking ships were an essential part of daily life for these seafaring people. They had various vessels to suit their needs. Therefore, what are the different types of Viking ships? The Viking ship was by far the most advanced technical accomplishment in the Dark Ages. The ships were fast and designed to withstand the harsh ocean. The ships allowed the owner to go on voyages for trading, raiding and or exploring the world. They also served as a status symbol in addition to functionality.
There are two main different types of Viking ships: Langskip or warships and the Knörr or merchant ships. Warships such as the Icelander differ from the merchant ships by being narrower, longer, and shallower. The warships are typically moved by 16 rowers and partially with the sail. The warships are open and made for speed and agility. The merchant ships are completely different from the warships. They are partially enclosed and powered mainly by a sail instead of by rowers. The ability to carry heavy cargo is the primary aim for the merchant ship. They are typically 55 feet long (16.5m). The other ships were small fishing boats and ferries.
How Were Viking Ships Made?
Since these ships were so advanced during their time, an important question remains. How did they make these Viking ships? Vikings passed down the tradition of shipbuilding from father to son and over generations refined the technique. The Vikings had a strong oral tradition and therefore shared most of the techniques verbally.
They built the ship by creating the shell then adding strakes and internal wood timbers last. The initial boats had animal guts added to the strakes to waterproof the ship. Then they switched to iron when it became available.
So what are you waiting for? Get your ticket to see an exact replica of a Viking warship.