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Doom3r

Viking longboat questions

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Hi guys,

 

So I've just finished reading Bengtsson's "Red Orm" and decided to build a small longship model. Picked up Smer "Oseberg Ship" in 1/180 and have a few newbie questions (this is going to be my 1st sail ship model as well):

1) Stereotypically long ships have a dragon head on the nose of the ship, however Oseberg ship is missing it. Do we know if it is b/c it was used for burial or not all of the ships had a heads on it's nose? If I am trying to build a ship that is going to sail in the sea should it have a head or not?

2) If the ship is sailing in a sea in a bit stormy weather would it be still using rower's power or oars would be stowed? If oars are going to be stowed would it be brought on the deck or would it be in a fixed position on the outside of the hull?

3) The sail is awful in the kit. While I found few tutorial on the youtube on how to make sails it is unclear what people do use as a sail material?

4) Internet is full of pictures of the sails having multiple colors on it as well as some drawings/runes/etc on the sail. Do we know if this was the case or the sails were just dirty white color and everything else is just an artistic impression?

 

Thanks!

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1) The dragon (or other) heads, from archaeological evidence, seem to have been demountable and fitted into sockets in the top of the stempost. There's a fair amount of speculation that they were removed when the ships were returning home (to indicate the crew was travelling in peace) and fitted when they were outbound and raiding or attacking.

2) The oars would not usually be used with the sails except in low wind conditions. The oars stowed inboard on the deck or on crutches somewhat above the deck to keep them out of the way.

3) The best way of making model sails I've seen has been to sandwich a thin paper pattern between two layers of silkspan (material used to cover radio-control flying model aircraft). There was a good detailed article about the process in the Nautical Research Journal for December 2018. You might be able to access it through a library or through the Nautical Research Guild's website.

4) The sails almost certainly were made from wool and not cotton or linen. Your best reference would be to go to the website of the Viking Ship Museum in Roskilde (in Denmark). the website is in English, too, so it should be easy to navigate. The museum has built several replicas on the basis of archaeological work done there (I actually worked on the first one as a volunteer far too many years ago).

 

Hope this helps,

Maurice

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Looks like you've answered your own questions. Like most things in modelling, as you build subjects further back in time,evidence starts to get very thin a you have to start to look generically in the time frame and make your own decisions. Do what you think is right, don't paralyze yourself with over analysis. So, crack on and get building and start a WiP.

 

Stuart

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From several books, I too have the impression that animal heads on the stem post were only used on offensive raids. Usually removed also in foreign waters, and fitted for raids and attacks.

 

Nils

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17 hours ago, Courageous said:

Looks like you've answered your own questions. Like most things in modelling, as you build subjects further back in time,evidence starts to get very thin a you have to start to look generically in the time frame and make your own decisions. Do what you think is right, don't paralyze yourself with over analysis. So, crack on and get building and start a WiP.

 

Stuart

Well, in my case my "oldest" subject is I-153 from 1930th. And in such subjects you usually argue about "wrong" shade of green or something 2mm off where it should. This would be my 2nd maritime model as well, however the kit is pretty simple (less than 20 pieces) and I already glued hull and trying to figure out what to do with oars, awful sail and waiting on 1/200 people and to see if I would be able to dress them up as a crew. If I would be able to get something I like out of this I might try Revell and/or Emhar.

 

PS: My usual subjects are jets however occasionally I deviate to that to some other areas (armor, cars, figurines) to learn new tricks.

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Quote

 

As I understood it the Oseberg ship was some kind of ceremonial or leisure craft with an appreciably shallower hull rather than a sea going vessel, let alone a true long ship type raider.  The "Sea Stallion  from Glendalough" replica at Roskilde is an example of the true long ship and there are a goo set of photos here:

 

http://www.modellmarine.de/index.php?option=com_imagebrowser&view=gallery&folder=havhingsten-roskilde&Itemid=55

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Francis just said what I was going to.  Follow his link for photos and more information of the Oseberg ship which is in the Viking Ship Museum at Oslo.  Apparently she is suffering from the original preservation treatment which has created crystals which are now destroying the wood - perhaps it would be best to go see it reasonably soon!  There is considerable work being done to hopefully reverse the damage and maintain her in much the state she is now - but go see her (and her companions) anyway.  Stop off at Roskilde on the way.  Plenty of other good stuff on the way, but the beer is pricey.

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On 9/26/2019 at 1:49 AM, Doom3r said:

4) Internet is full of pictures of the sails having multiple colors on it as well as some drawings/runes/etc on the sail. Do we know if this was the case or the sails were just dirty white color and everything else is just an artistic impression?

 

I was told by a fellow here who is a bit of an expert that the painted sails were probably rare or possibly a flight of modern fancy. But who can say.

 

Not exactly a langskip but we restored a 120 year old Nordlandsbåt a couple of years back and which we use for sailing over the summer months here. They are a direct descendant of the seafaring langskip and are very enjoyable to sail and remarkably sturdy craft in heavy swells. Was out in her for 4 trips this summer. She's gaff rigged not square rigged for modern convenience. Not many people outside of Norway know these still exist.

 

Under restoration, removing a hundred years of tar (Nordlandsbåt have the hull tarred inside and out for waterproofing just like a langskip) and replacing some of the wood, spars, etc

 

SuXLpqi.jpg

 

Painting...

 

RUpdloJ.jpg

 

And doing what she's made to do...

 

Oig1TgM.jpg

 

Sorry for the slight diversion but I thought it might be nice for those outside Norway to see that the direct descendants of these boats are still in use.

Edited by Smithy
Typo

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There were three classes of long ship

1. the Dragon war ship

2. the trading vessel

3. a type which not as wide as the trading ship and not as narrow as the dragon, It was used by settlers and fishermen but could be used for coastal trade or raiding.

 

Oars and sail were rarely used together. When the mast was stepped the oars were shipped, that is, pulled in and stowed on a rack which was in the centre of the ship. This rack also was the framework for a tent type cover. When the oars were needed the mast was un-stepped and stowed on the centre rack.

 

The dragon ships animal head was permanent. It was the symbol of the ship's owner/leader

In type 3 above the animal head could be removed and replaced with a large weather vane.

Type 2 usually did not have anything. It could have an animal head or a weather vane but usually on these the weather vane was carried at the top of the mast

 

Sails were usually made of linen but material made of nettle fibre is also known, The sail was made up of strips of material no wider that 24 inches. That was the largest size of a Norse loom. The Norse had linen, they made good clothes out of it.

Cotton - which canvas is made of - came from the Middle-East during the late 12th century or so, towards the end of the Greater Viking period

The Greater Viking period was from about 575 to about 1350. The second great Viking period is now

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4 minutes ago, Smithy said:

Sorry for the slight diversion but I thought it might be nice for those outside Norway to see that the direct descendants of these boats are still in use.

The Norse style boat is still built and used in certain areas around Ireland and North Lancashire

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13 minutes ago, Black Knight said:

The Norse style boat is still built and used in certain areas around Ireland and North Lancashire

 

Are they tarred and ballasted the same way and iron riveted? I didn't know that so it's nice to know if the traditions live on elsewhere as well.

Edited by Smithy

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I don't know the answer to that but the boat builders I talked to told me they built them exactly as they been for centuries. The boat builders themselves can claim descendancy from the Norse. In parts of Ireland the boats are used for in-shore fishing. 

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3 minutes ago, Black Knight said:

I don't know the answer to that but the boat builders I talked to told me they built them exactly as they been for centuries. The boat builders themselves can claim descendancy from the Norse. In parts of Ireland the boats are used for in-shore fishing. 

 

That's actually really great to hear. I had no idea that boats were still being made in the same building traditions as the Nordlandsbåt.

 

Not the easiest to build (or restore for that matter - it was fairly hard work over the best part of a year) but they are very special when you have them out on the water.

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Further info:

During the Greater Viking period the anchor was a large stone. The fluked anchor is a very much later invention.

Between the 'tent' area and the steering platform was placed a large stone with one or two depressions in it. This was the cooking stone. It was carved from a most unusual stone which is found mostly in the Orkneys and Shetlands.[for the purposes of our discussion] Its called 'soap stone'. It can be carved to shape with a knife but when subjected to localised heat it becomes more solid and fireproof. It was used as a cooking stone as well as for cooking vessels

In a dragon boat each warrior sat upon a locked chest when rowing. This was his personal chest. When the ship was grounded for any period the chests were brought ashore to their owners habitations. In this chest he kept his spare clothes, personal god worshipping items, his share of plunder and his ready cash, which was commonly pieces of gold or silver cut up into small chunks - this was and is called 'hack silver'

 

Painted sails: I think there are references to Viking raiders being seen from afar and recognised because of the painted sails. The sails could be each vertical strip being a different colour [dyed cloth] or a symbol painted onto the whole sail. The Viking raider wanted to instil fear on his quarry before he arrived, half the battle is won if your opponent is afraid and running away.

 

I differentiate between 'Norse' and 'Viking' as 'Norse' is the usual term we use for Danish/Norwegian/Swedish/ Islander seafarers, aka the Norsemen becoming the 'Northmen', eventually the 'Nor-man', to 'Norman'

The word or term Viking is reckoned to come from old Norse e'viking - a verb,  to go raiding, or to go pirating.

Thus not all Norse were Viking, nor were all Viking Norse, as there were Viking from Cornwall/Devon/Scilly Isles area

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On 26/09/2019 at 00:49, Doom3r said:

. . . So I've just finished reading Bengtsson's "Red Orm" and decided to build a small longship model. Picked up Smer "Oseberg Ship" in 1/180 and have a few newbie questions (this is going to be my 1st sail ship model as well):

. . .

as Norse Long Ships varied in length from about 12 feet long up to about 90 feet long and almost everything was in proportion, eg smaller oars on 12 footers, longer oars needing three rowers on the 90 footers do not worry about the scale of people you use, as long as they are reasonable. I used 1/144 figures and some milliput on them on my Long Ship build. (no photos)

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5 hours ago, Black Knight said:

as Norse Long Ships varied in length from about 12 feet long up to about 90 feet long and almost everything was in proportion, eg smaller oars on 12 footers, longer oars needing three rowers on the 90 footers do not worry about the scale of people you use, as long as they are reasonable. I used 1/144 figures and some milliput on them on my Long Ship build. (no photos)

Well that was the plan except the smallest people I have are the seated USAF & USN fighter pilots but I think that oxygen masks, g-suits and helmets would look a bit out of time on a X century ship :) The smallest people hobby shops within a 50 miles radius have are HO scale which might do work if I was trying to build fishing boat :) This is why I had to order smaller people online. However I do not worry too much about them taking a bit of time to arrive since I am using oils to reproduce wood texture so it would take a week for it to dry up.

 

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14 hours ago, Black Knight said:

I differentiate between 'Norse' and 'Viking' as 'Norse' is the usual term we use for Danish/Norwegian/Swedish/ Islander seafarers, aka the Norsemen becoming the 'Northmen', eventually the 'Nor-man', to 'Norman'

The word or term Viking is reckoned to come from old Norse e'viking - a verb,  to go raiding, or to go pirating.

Thus not all Norse were Viking, nor were all Viking Norse, as there were Viking from Cornwall/Devon/Scilly Isles area

 

I'm so glad that you've added this, as I get tired of doing it myself and then dealing with the fallout. Let's not even get into horned helmets...

 

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3 hours ago, Rob G said:

Let's not even get into horned helmets...

Just saying...

...some of us can really rock the helmet....

 

spacer.png

 

:fool:

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Oars were used when sailing. They were mounted vertically on the side of the vessel with the blades in the water like the lee boards on Thames barges to act like a modern centreboard, so the vessel could sail slightly into the wind.

 

One other point, Vikings never had horns on their helmets, this myth comes from the misinterpetation of a painting by one of Wagner's costume designers!

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3 hours ago, Niall said:

Oars were used when sailing. They were mounted vertically on the side of the vessel with the blades in the water like the lee boards on Thames barges to act like a modern centreboard, so the vessel could sail slightly into the wind.

Having hard time to picture it in my head. Do you have any drawings/pictures on how did it look like?

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me too. 

I've never seen this illustrated in any of the ancient artwork nor mentioned in the annals

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I remember seeing it in a picture or TV program many years ago when I was at school(in the 60's).

 

As to the appearance - The oars were mounted like this ||||||| along the side of the ship starting further forward than the mast to a point equally far aft of the mast, with the blades in the water, on the lee side of the ship. the blades ends would be lower than the ship's keel.

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For a source of small figures try N gauge railway shops.

 

As for using the oars as leeboards, it is an interesting idea but I'd check that with the Roskilde museum ships first.  I don't recall seeing it on any of their voyages, but obviously I've only seen a tiny proportion of their work.

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I find this thread fascinating.

 

A big "thank you" to all posing such interesting questions, and especially to @Niall and @Black Knight for the informative answers.

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