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Oseberg

This Viking ship was found near Oslo, Norway in 1905. It dates to AD 800 and was teh burial of a Viking noblewoman, probably a Queen, along with an elderly female companion. Other burial finds included three dogs, an ox, an ornately-carved wagon, and thirteen horses, pulling three ornately-carved sleighs, some collapsable bedsteads, an oak chest fastened with iron naills with tinned heads, a wooden bucket with brass fittings probably made in Ireland, and other household goods including tapestries.

The ship is preserved today in the viking Museum outside of Oslo. The ship is built entirely of oak, and is 70 ft long and 17 ft broad.

The ship is richly-decorated with carvings, especially the posts and caprail.

The steering oar is similar to other Scandinavian ships, with a wooden button at the outer end of a withy, passing through the strake, and lashed to the frame, with a conical block of wood and a strap to hold the loom of the oar at the level of the sheer strake, with a tiller attached to the top of the loom.

Again, it's lapstrake, clinker construction with iron rivets. The ship probably served as a transportation and pleasure boat for the noblewoman. The Vikings called this type of vessel a karv. This karv had sailed in the deep and relatively well-sheltered coastal fjorts of southern Norway carrying a Viking noblewoman on her rounds and was quite well-designed for its task.

Since the ship sailed in deep waters, the hull had a substantially v-shaped bottom with a well-developed keel.

It was a wide vessel, with a lenght-to-beam ratio of just over 4 to 1, making her a stable sailor.

We should also note that such a broad, low hull with a high bow and stern would have tended to hog - that is, either end would droop, were it not for the substantially v-shaped bottom and the well-developed keel which combined to form a strong backbone.

The Oseberg ship was both rowed and sailed. The sheer plank on either side has 15 ports for oars - so there were 30 rowers in total. Note that these are oarports, not thole pins.

When the ship was being sailed, the oars were laid in a pair of crutches mounted on either topwale amidships. The mast for the square sail was stepped in a mast step just forward of midships. Vikings called a mast step a carling (old lady). Thsi mast step is quite short, and only rests on two frames.

The mast step distributed the weight of the mast over a very small area of the hull. At deck level, it was supported by a mast partner in the shape of a fish, and is thus called a mast fish. This mast fish rested on only four consecutive cross beams and did not prove to be quite adequate. It had cracked and was repaired at some point.

Up to the level of the cross beams and the beginning of the sides of the hull, the Oseberg hull is very much and old-fashioned hull. That is, it is very much like the Hjortspring, Nydam and Kvalsund hulls. Below the level of the cross beams, the frames are lashed to the planking. Also in the case of those earlier hulls, the cross beams are very light timbers.

Of particular interest is the uppermost of the bottom planking strakes, located at the level of the cross beams. It is thicker than the other bottom planks and takes the shap of an inverted 1 in cross-section. The Vikings called this plank the meginhufr ("strong plank").

Also, there is another new construction feature: for the first time, we see vertical knees scarfed and nailed to the upper sides of the cross beams at their ends. The side planking was fastened with treenails to these knees. Also notice that the deck of the Oseberg ship consisted of short sections of planking that rested on ledges cut along either edge of teh upper face of the cross beams.