Schematic drawing of the longship type. They were not always equipped with shields.

Longships were a type of specialised Viking warships that have a long history in Scandinavia. Their existence being archaeologically proven[1] and documented from at least the fourth century BC. 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, beginning in the Stone Age with the invention of the umiak[dubious ] and continuing 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 a graceful, long, narrow 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. 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.[2] The average speed of Viking ships varied from ship to ship, but lay in the range of 5–10 knots (9.3–18.5 km/h) and the maximum speed of a longship under favourable conditions was around 15 knots (28 km/h).[3]

Other Languages
dansk: Langskib
Deutsch: Langschiff
español: Drakkar
فارسی: درازکشتی
Gaeilge: Long fhada
한국어: 랑스킵
íslenska: Langskip
magyar: Hosszúhajó
മലയാളം: ലോങ്ഷിപ്പ്
norsk: Langskip
norsk nynorsk: Langskip
polski: Langskip
português: Dracar
русский: Langskip
Simple English: Longship
suomi: Pitkävene
svenska: Långskepp
中文: 维京长船