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Skuldelev 1-6

5 Viking clinker-built (lap-strake, shell construction with rivet and rove fastening) hulls excavated from blockage in channel near Skuldelev, DK. Fully excavated 1957-1962. Conserved, reconstructed, displayed as base collection for Roskilde Viking Ship Museum. Each vessel demonstrates a specific use and working life before being scuttled.

Skudelev1:ocean-going trader (knarr) 1030 AD L:15.84m B:4.8m D: 1m Pine, Oak, Linden(Lime), built in Western Norway. Skudelev2/4: (skeid) great longship 1042 AD L approx 30m B: 3.8 D: 1m oak. Built in Dublin, Ireland. Skuldelev3: coastal trader ca.1040AD L:14m B:3.3m D:0.9m Oak. Built in Denmark Skuldelev5: small longship (snekke). ca. 1030 AD. L: 17.3 m B: 2.5 m D: 0.6 oak, pine, ash, and alder. Built in Denmark Skuldelev6: fishing vessel ca.1030AD L: 11.2 B: 2.5 D:0.5m, pine birch oak. Built in Western Norway

hese five Viking ships were deliberately sunk in the 11th century to form a blockade at the entrance to the harbor of Roskilde, Denmark. A large cofferdam was built around them in order to affect a more efficient excavation. All five vessels were conserved in polyethylene glycol and reassembled in a new museum overlooking the harbor. Planks of all these vessels ended fore and aft in elaborately shaped bow and stern timbers instead of the stem and stern rabbets as was common on earlier Viking ships. The following individual details should be noted:

No. 1 – A replica of this big merchant ship circumnavigated the globe in 1984-86. Original planking was of pine, although several repairs were made in oak. Strakes are slightly oval in cross-section. Rivets that join the laps are of iron. Frames are concave along their planking surfaces; only the edges touch the planks. The keelson was enlarged in the mast step area, where it was sided 36 cm and molded 25 cm.

No. 2 – This hull was long and narrow and was propelled by 30 pairs of oars and a squaresail. As in the vessel above, the keelson swelled in the mast step area. None of the Skuldelev keelsons ran the full length of the hull.

No. 3 – A small merchant vessel that was primarily propelled by sail, although seven oarports were found as well. This hull also had strakes that were oval in cross-section. The replica of this vessel was an extremely beautiful masterpiece. The hull was the best preserved of all five.

No. 5 (there was no number 4) – Twelve of thirteen pairs of oars propelled this hull. It had a three-piece keel joined by vertical scarfs; two more vertical scarfs joined it to the posts. The four lowest strakes are of oak, three upper strakes are of ash, while there is one plank of pine.

No. 6 – This was a small vessel, perhaps used for fishing or general inshore duties, hence it has been listed as a utility vessel. Planks also have elliptical cross sections. This vessel had the shortest keelson of all; at least the authors so classify it. I consider it too short to have provided longitudinal strength to the hull, hence I have designated it as a mast step in the tables.1

Further Reading:

1. Richard Steffy, INA Shipdata Project, Texas A&M University.

Crumlin-Pedersen, Ole Olsen, Olaf Skuldelev Ships I: Topography, Archaeology, History, Conservation and Display. Ships and Boats of the North, Volume 4.1Viking Ship Museum. Roskilde, Denmark 2002.

Olsen, Olaf and Ole Crumlin-Pedersen . “The Skuldelev Ships: A report of the final underwater survey in 1959 and the salvaging operation in 1962” Acta Archaeologica vol. XXXVIII Copenhagen 1968.

Var. Authors. Shipshape: Essays for Ole Crumlin-Pedersen on the Occasion of his 60th anniversary February 24th 1995. Viking Ship Museum, Roskilde, Denmark. 1995.

Crumlin-Pedersen, Ole Comment on Museum Report: The Viking Ship Museum, Roskilde (IJNA 16: 348-352) IJNA Issue 3 Vol 17 pp270-271 1988.

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