The Viking Ship Museum
The Oseberg ship was built in western Norway around the year 820. It is made of oak. Each of the strakes overlaps the one below and they are fixed with iron nails. Each side of the ship consists of 12 strakes, or planks. Below the waterline, they are only 2-3 cm thick, which makes the ship's side very flexible. The two upper strakes are a little thicker. The deck is made of loose pine planks. The mast is also of pine and was between 10 and 13 metres high. For whoever built the Oseberg ship, it must have been very important to make it a particularly handsome vessel. He or she used great resources in having the ship decorated. Such a richly decorated ship must surely have been reserved for special members of the aristocracy. Fully-manned the ship would have had 30 oarsmen, a man at the tiller and a lookout in the bow.
The Gokstad ship was built in about 850, at the height of the Viking period. It could have been used for voyages of exploration, trade and Viking raids. The ship could be both sailed and rowed. There are 16 oar holes on each side of the ship. With oarsmen, steersman and lookout, that would have meant a crew of 34. The ship is made of oak and is clinker-built, with 16 rows of strakes. The nine strakes below the waterline are only two to three centimetres thick, making the sides both light and flexible. The keel is made of one straight piece of oak. The deck consists of pine planks that can be easily lifted, so that the crew could easily bale out water if needed. This also gave storage space for a little cargo.
The Tune ship was built in around 900AD and is clinker built of oak. The ship probably had 12 oar holes on each side. That would mean a crew of 24 oarsmen plus a steersman and lookout. The ship is estimated to have been 18.7 metres long and 4.2 metres wide, with 12 rows of strakes. The Tune ship is smaller than the other two, but the way in which the mast is fixed is stronger. This would have enabled it to have a sail as large as a hundred square meters. This, combined with the shape of the hull, would probably have made it a fast, sea-going vessel with particularly good sailing properties. It was designed to hold lighter cargo, perhaps furs, glass, and slaves.