Viking Ships


Viking ships were built by the Scandinavians during the Viking Age (c. 790 CE - c. 1100 CE) and were used both within Scandinavia and beyond for purposes ranging from being the most important means of transport to trade and warfare. Viking expansion, moreover, would not have been possible without ships. One of the most famous images connected with the Vikings is that of the dragon-headed longships, red-and-white striped sails giving it deadly speed and carrying its bloodthirsty warriors to their destinations of plunder. However, Viking ships came in many different forms, among which there were big-bellied cargo ships and, indeed, the speedy longships which facilitated raiding and gave the Vikings the edge over their contemporaries, but which far from always had the intricately carved dragon-heads that are so entrenched in popular imagination. Annoyingly, the archaeological record paints a rather patchy picture, as wood is not headstrong enough to stand the test of time very well, and our knowledge of early Viking Age ships comes almost exclusively from a handful of ship burials, although later on in the Viking Age sunken ships pop up to broaden our knowledge a bit.

More about: Viking Ships


  • c. 4000 BCE - c. 2300 BCE
    Depictions of ships in stone (in burial settings) and metal found in Scandinavia.
  • c. 350 BCE
    Hjortspring boat - the earliest known plank-built Scandinavian vessel.
  • c. 350 CE - c. 400 CE
    The Nydam Ship built, first able to easily travel long distance overseas.
  • c. 700 CE
    Sails first begin to appear on Viking ships towards the end of the 7th century CE.
  • c. 790 CE - c. 1100 CE
    The Viking Age.
  • c. 820 CE
    The approximate construction date of the Oseberg Viking Ship.
  • 900 CE
    The approximate construction dates of the Gokstad and Tune Viking Ships. .
  • c. 900 CE
    Increased specialisation in Viking ships visible from the 10th century CE onward; notably cargo ships & longships.
  • c. 1025 CE
    The Hedeby Viking cargo ships.
  • c. 1025 CE
    The Roskilde 6 Viking longship - the longest known longship - dated to after 1025 CE.