Viking Ship Home Page

The illustration on the right is a detail from a standing stone found on the Island of Gotland, Sweden. Click here to see the entire picture stone.

Assembled by D. L. Ashliman. © 1998-2002.
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Pictures of Ships as Decorative Motifs

Ship Finds

Sutton Hoo, England

In about 625 a King of East Anglia, possibly King Raedwald, was buried at the present-day Sutton Hoo estate near Woodbridge in Suffolk, UK. His tomb was a large wooden ship 27 m long and 4.5 m wide at its widest spot (about 85 feet by 15 feet). The ship had been sailed upriver and then dragged overland and then into a pit dug at the burial spot. The ship was then covered with a large mound of soil.

Elaborate burial goods included coins, weapons, armor, which miraculously escaped grave robbers. All organic goods, including the corpse (if one was interred there at all), disintegrated in the acidic soil.

The ship lay undisturbed by human hands until 1939. Initial excavations showed that the site likely contained a wealth of ancient treasure. An official "coronor's treasure trove inquest" awarded the contents of the grave to the property owner, Mrs. Edith Pretty, who in turn donated them to the British Museum. Between 1965 and 1970 the British Museum excavated the site, and its contents comprise one the Museum's most impressive exhibits of Anglo-Saxon artifacts.

Gokstad, Norway

Discovered 1880.

Housed in the Viking Ship Museum near Oslo.

Dimensions: 23.33 m long and 5.25 m wide.

With a load of 8 tons, the Gokstad ship displaced about 75 cm of water. Fully loaded, it would displace less than 1 m of water (about 3 feet).

A replica of this ship was built in 1893 and sailed from Bergen, Norway, to Newfoundland, Canada, in 28 days.

Oseberg, Norway

Tomb of a Viking queen or princess, who died about 834.

Discovered in a large burial mound in Vestfold and excavated in 1904.

Housed in the Viking Ship Museum near Oslo.

Dimensions: 22 m long and 5 m wide.

Tune, Norway

Discovered 1867. Housed in the Viking Ship Museum near Oslo.

Roskilde, Denmark

In about the year 1000 the inhabitants of Roskilde skuttled five ships in the narrow mouth of their fjord, in an attempt to barricade themselves against attacks by their fellow Vikings. The cold water preserved the sunken ships until our own era. They have now been raised and are on display at the Viking Ship Hall in Roskilde.

These historic wrecks have also served as patterns for modern shipwrights attempting to duplicate the successes of Viking shipmakers and sailors.

Be sure to check the Danish WWW site Vikingship Helge Ask. This site, maintained by members of the Sailing Guild Helge Ask, contains a wealth of information compiled by a band "sixty mean and very competent vikings" who build and sail replicas of ancient ships.

The Helge Ask is a replica, constructed in 1991 using Viking tools, of wreck five found in Roskilde Fjord at Skuldelev. It is a small warship (17.24 m long by 2.62 m wide), designed for coastal surveillance. Its draft is 0.51 m. It is powered by 26 oarsmen and/or a sail. The mast height is 8.7 m.

Click here for photographs of

Schleswig, Germany

Viking Ports and Settlements



According to the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, compiled about 891, the first Viking raids against Engand occured in the year 787. The most infamous of these early raids was the Danish attack at Lindesfarne in 793. This momentous event, we read in the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, was presaged by terrible omens, including flashes of lightning and fiery dragons seen flying through the air.

As a rule, the raiders attacking eastern England came from Denmark, and those attacking western England came from Norway. The English called all Vikings "Danes," "Northmen," "the horde," or simply "heathens."

Although best remembered for attacking, pillaging, and then retreating in their swift ships, the Vikings often became permanent settlers. Hundreds of place names in England are of Danish origin, for example places ending in the suffixes "-by" (farmstead, village, town) or "-thorpe" (village).

The most important long-term Viking settlements include:

Faro (Færo) Islands


The year 911 is the traditional date for the establishment of Viking settlements in Normandy under the Norseman Rollo. About 150 years later (in the year 1066, to be precise), the ancestors of these Vikings, led by William the Conqueror, invaded England. However, by this time, the French "Northmen" had lost most of the linguistic and cultural ties to their ancestral homeland in Scandinavia.




Many Irish slaves participated in the colonization of Iceland. With time they integrated into Icelandic society. Although there are essentially no Celtic influences in Icelandic language and culture, there is genetic evidence that many modern Icelanders have Irish ancestors.

Beginning in the 840's, the Vikings began establishing permanent bases in Ireland, including the following:



Scandinavianists believe that the word "Russia" derives from an old Scandinavian word for Swede, "Rus." Slavicists, as a group, do not share this view. In any event, the Swedish Vikings raided and settled along all of western Russia's and the Ukraine's navigable Rivers, including the Volga and the Dneiper.

Scotland and Northern British Islands



Additional Links

Revised Saint Patrick's Day, 2002.