Danish Folk Art Viking Long Boat
Today’s Object of Virtue is a Danish folk art recreation of a Viking Long Boat, made in the 1950’s.
Originally invented and used by the Norsemen (commonly known as the Vikings) for commerce, exploration, and warfare during the Viking Age, many of the longship’s characteristics were adopted by other cultures, like Anglo-Saxons, and continued to influence shipbuilding for centuries.
The longship’s design evolved over many centuries, and continued up until the 6th century with clinker-built ships like Nydam and Kvalsund. The longship appeared in its complete form between the 9th and 13th centuries.
The character and appearance of these ships have been reflected in Scandinavian boat-building traditions until today. The particular skills and methods employed in making longships are still used worldwide, often with modern adaptations. They were all made out of wood, with cloth sails (woven wool) and had numerous details and carvings on the hull.
The longships were characterized as graceful, long, wide and light, with a shallow-draft hull designed for speed. The ship’s shallow draft allowed navigation in waters only one meter deep and permitted arbitrary beach landings, while its light weight enabled it to be carried over portages or used bottom-up for shelter in camps. When the VIkings first came to England, they were able to sail up our rivers and invade.
As you can see from this piece, longships were also double-ended, the symmetrical bow and stern allowing the ship to reverse direction quickly without a turn around; this trait proved particularly useful at northern latitudes, where icebergs and sea ice posed hazards to navigation.
Longships were fitted with oars along almost the entire length of the boat itself. Later versions had a rectangular sail on a single mast, which was used to replace or augment the effort of the rowers, particularly during long journeys.
The dragon head, mounted on the ship is an instantly recognisable feature of a Viking long boat, designed to instill fear in the spirits of whichever land the Vikings were raiding.
This recreation of Viking history is a sight to behold!
Made in brass, over the years this piece has aged beautifully, in some places you can see a patina starting that has formed. The surface is actually quite warm and tactile to the touch. As a standalone piece, this sits proudly on display.
Looking at the welds up close does a good job of replicating the lengths of wood that would originally be used to build a Viking Longship.
All in all a really wonderful piece.