Viking facts

Portaging Viking Ships

The towing of a ship The Vikings were the greatest mariners of their time.  They were warriors, explorers, and traders who sailed half the globe,  from Scandinavia to the Mediterranean Sea, Ireland, Iceland, Greenland and America.

The Vikings sailed inland, too,  and there were many times when their ships had to be taken out of the water and  transported over- land in order to bypass an unnavigable stretch of river or  to reach another body of water.  Of course, there were no trailers as there are for modern Vikings.  So how did they do it?  Well, it depended on the design and size of the ship.  The bottom part of a Viking ship, the keel, was only a few centimeters thick,  so the keel of a small ship could cut through sand if the ship was pushed or pulled.  This method would work for a short distance or if the terrain allowed for it.
the carying of a ship A small ship could also be put on wooden poles and carried by the crew.  The poles were placed through the oar holes so it could be transported somewhat like a litter.  Larger ships presented more of a problem, especially if they were fully loaded,  and those ships could be moved on "rollers." Once on shore, the crew cut down trees and stripped them of their branches and bumps.  The trees would be laid out in front of the ship and it would be pulled on to them.  As the ship was pulled along,  the tree trucks at the back would be moved to the front. the rolling of a ship Ships could be transported for quite a distance using the roller method.  In fact, historians have shown that this method was used in Russia in order to get to the Black Sea.  The Viking ships were sailed up the rivers that flow into the Baltic Sea.  The ships were then transported about ten kilometers over-land to the Dnepr River,  which could be sailed to the Black Sea.  This provided another trade route to the Turks,  rather than travelling via the Mediterranean Sea.
A recent discovery suggests that the roller method was also used in the Shetland Islands.  The Shetlands are on the route from Scandinavia to Iceland and  the Vikings stopped there to take on fresh water and provisions.  Of course, the Vikings could have sailed around the island,  but that would have been dangerous because of the rocks.  There is one place on the Shetlands where the North Sea and  the Atlantic Ocean are separated by only 50 meters.  Historians believe that the Vikings pulled their ships over the island at that place.

[ last updated :  1-1-2016  ]