The Sea Stallion of Glendalough

Discussion in 'Et Cetera, Et Cetera' started by Ethyl, May 27, 2007.

  1. Ethyl

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  2. Principessa

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    You and a bunch of horny sailors on the North Sea...sounds like a blast! :smile:
     
  3. Lordpendragon

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    Appeals to me enormously as well MB.

    I do get a bit worried when they use copies of original tools in the rconstruction, simply because they will never have the skill in using them of the original crasftsmen.

    I am sure my balls could'nt take seven weeks of neglect - I wonder what they will do - still they'd have a spare mast or two.
     
  4. B_big dirigible

    B_big dirigible New Member

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    Have much experience with square riggers?

    Unfortunately no intact Viking rigging has ever been found, aside from a few blocks (pulleys) on the Gokstad ship. The Skuldelev ships were sunk in Roskilde fjord as blockships, so obviously they'd have been stripped of anything useful before being filled with rocks and scuttled. Modern repros have been made of several of the wrecks, with of course entirely imaginary spars and rigging.

    I recall a few decades ago some Thor Heyerdahl-wannabee was going to cross the Atlantic in a repro Viking ship to prove that - well, that was never clear. For authenticity (!) the crew was going to eat blubber (?) and pretend that they didn't have an auxiliary engine. Some fun.

    The Roskilde wrecks were numbered 1 to 6. Wrecks 2 and 4 were later hypothesized to be the bow and stern sections of one very long and narrow ship, possibly a drakkar or dragon ship. Wreck 1 was a knarr, the type of ship used for long-distance voyages and trading - not much like the ships in the Viking movies. Wreck 3 was a smaller knarr, perhaps like the ones the Varangians used for travel down the rivers of Russia. Wreck 6 was a smaller and simpler ship, maybe a ferry or fishing boat. Wreck 5 was perhaps a karv, a type of longship not unlike the well-known Oseberg and Gokstad ships. Some 50% of it was recovered. Although the news releases are uninformative in the detail department, I'd guess that Roskilde 5 is the ship copied for this particular project.

    Other Viking ships have been reconstructed/copied. A copy of the Ladby ship, noted for a peculiarly light keel, was a good sailer. I don't know if the Tune or Borre ships were copied; the wrecks were very incomplete. It's been about 25 years since I've paid much attention to this stuff, and some copies I never heard about may be scattered here & there.

    Of the burial ships, the Oseberg ship and accompanying grave goods are total classics of Vendal-style decorative carving. In contrast, the Gokstad ship is pure engineering with no baroque ostentation of any sort - a real beauty. The rigs, such as they are, have been reconstructed from the Gotland picture stones and the Bayeux tapestry.

    An Arab merchant left an eyewitness account of a Viking funeral on the Black Sea. That was one of those types in which the ship was set on fire, and so would be of limited archaeological interest. Not much good as re-enactment material, either. Although there was some human sacrifice involved, not to mention serial rape - Vikings were apparently pretty reliable serial rapists - all of which would make for dynamite TV.
     
  5. Lordpendragon

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    Are you referring to Ibn Battuta, Big D?
     
  6. kalipygian

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  7. B_big dirigible

    B_big dirigible New Member

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    Sorry, Pilgrim, I can't answer that. It's been two decades since I read the account, and my memory has never been sterling. You'd think I'd remember the details, if only for the impeccably choreographed rape scene.

    So, could be.
     
  8. B_big dirigible

    B_big dirigible New Member

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    Viking ships were whittled out. Sawing was for wimps! A shipwright made it his business to be familiar with the local trees, which ones had useful branchings which could be used for knees, which ones were the right shapes for all the planks of the hulls, and so on. Each plank was carved to shape, then fastened, usually with rivets, to its neighbors top and bottom, in a lapstrake (overlapping) fashion. This completed shell was then lashed loosely (at cleats which had been left on the planks by the carvers) to ribs which kept it boat-shaped. Without the ribs the hull would have stayed together but would have sagged down into something relatively flat.

    The style of construction which came into standard use only a century or two later was radically different, and persisted into the modern period. It was much more rigid, with clinker-built planking replacing the lapstrake overlapping riveted boards, and heavy ribs solidly attached to the planking. The later, heavier hulls certainly could support far more elaborate rigs than the flexible Viking-style hulls; the wonderfully balanced three-masted "ship" rig could never have been developed otherwise.

    Of course even the later-type hulls were whittled out by men swinging adzes and broadaxes. It wasn't until the mid-1800s that Donald McKay revolutionized the industry by installing a steam-powered saw in his clipper ship yard in Boston. It was a real marvel; one man could control the tilt of the blade and feed of the raw lumber. Unfortunately I don't believe it has survived. Neither has any of McKay's ships. He's perhaps most famous for Flying Cloud, which once logged just over 400 miles in a day, beating Cutty Sark's best run by some 40 miles. Flying Cloud was burned in 1875 to salvage her copper sheathing and metal fittings. Sic transit stupor mundi.
     
  9. Ethyl

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    [
    No, but someone must be teaching a course on it if they're sailing off into the sunset...
    I thought the drakkar was used as a warship?
    That's what I assumed as well.
    Oddly, this is how a friend of mine wants to be buried. I told him there may be some difficulty with the authorities on that one and to consult his lawyer. I told him he wouldn't care after he's dead anyway, but...
     
  10. dong20

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    Memorable way to go, for those watching at least.

    As for hitching a ride, there's still time and if you're rejected the Roskilde Music festival is usually very good. These guys leave the day the warm up starts but maybe they will delay for some last minute err, pillaging.

    The memories may keep them warm.:smile:
     
  11. Ethyl

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    Thanks for the link.

    I'm sure they will. It would be unrealistic to expect the expedition to mimic every detail of what happened centuries ago, but the experience itself would make it all worthwhile. :smile:
     
  12. B_big dirigible

    B_big dirigible New Member

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    Yes, a dragon ship, this one impractically narrow and doubtless rowed (ie, no sails).

    The trouble has always been matching up the written records with the artifacts. Although smack in the middle of the Dark Ages (so-called because of the general dearth of contemporary written material), there is a surprising amount of Viking literature extant, mainly from Iceland, which had an extraordinarly high literacy rate (not including thralls, of course, or, maybe, women). So the names of a good many types of ships are known. Matching them to the few recovered specimens is the trick. In the last century of the Viking era, sea battles seem to have consisted of masses of ships lashed together and allowed to drift into contact. This would not have been too impractical in Norwegian coastal waters, as the string of offshore islands would protect the "battlefield" from the full force of the North Atlantic rollers. The ensuing fight would be essentially a land battle, but fought on and across ships rather than on land. The equivalent of a fort would then be a larger ship with a higher freeboard. And the literature does indeed mention some colossal boats. Olaf Trygvason's Long Serpent, built in Anno D. 990, is doubtless the most famous; but Canute (Knut) supposedly had ships on the order of 250 feet long; if monsters like this ever really existed, they have yet to be found. Even the famous dragon figureheads are in short supply. So far as I know only one has ever been recovered, dredged up in the Scheldt estuary. (At least it's a bona-fide dragon.) And I seem to recall that there was one found with the Oseberg funeral ship, although it couldn't be fitted to the Oseberg ship itself, as the stem of that was surmounted by a permanently fixed spiral thing with an inconspicuous serpent head in the center - odd, as the heads were traditionally removed when approaching land, so as not to offend the elves.

    And no known Viking wreck has been recovered with the seats - what these guys sat on while rowing remains a mystery, although the oar holes themselves, and even their carefully fitted wood covers, are adequately known.

    Boats in general are neat-o, no getting around it.
     
  13. B_big dirigible

    B_big dirigible New Member

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    D'oh! This is misleading. The known Viking "blocks" were more like deadeyes than pulleys.
     
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