When mentioning the Viking age, we should never miss out the Viking ship. Indeed, Viking ship was possibly the most aesthetic and greatest achievement that the Vikings achieved. Without Viking ship, there would have been no such great empire.
Viking Ship Overview
Based on different purposes, the types of ships varied. But most of the time, Viking ships were set to be slender and flexible. There were two common types of ships: merchant ships and warships. Warships (langskip) were longer and narrower than merchant ships (knorr). While warships were built for speed and flexibility, merchant ships focused on cargo carrying capability the most. Two different ships had two different ways to operate. Warships were to open and powered by oars while merchant ones set sail. The gunwales of the warships might have been decorated with Viking shields to add majesty. However, this was not quite practical because it did prevent the warriors to get out of their ships.
Viking Ship Symbolism
Viking ships became the symbol of not only aesthetic and practical purpose but also spiritual power.
Symbol of Viking Ancient Business
As the inland travel became dangerous and complicated, the Vikings found their way to trade with people from other regions. What they exported via shipping earned them more fortune. Also, they learned many things from the outside when trading with people from other places. This gave the Vikings the chance to make their own name and spread their popularity.
Symbol of Fear and Power
The Vikings were famous the most for their image of brutal and violent warriors going on raiding. Commonly, they traveled to other places to raid via their ships. Whenever Viking ships appeared on the horizon, it signaled a war was approaching. Since every path they went, they wreaked havoc and became the fear and nightmare to their victims. These serpents on the sea empowered the Viking warriors but they filled the victims with absolute terror.
Symbol of Religious Belief
With the Norse sagas deeply ingrained in the mindset, the Vikings believed in the afterlife. Many times, the Vikings placed the dead in the ships, either to bury them in the land or to set sail to the large ocean. This practice was for the wealthy and the noble only. Affording a sword in the Viking time was hard, let alone a ship. Thereby, only the people of wealth and nobility afforded this burial practice. This tradition might root in the story of Death of Baldur which presented a ship carrying God Baldur into the ocean. Many scholars claimed that this practice was to show respect to their Norse gods, especially the Beloved God Baldur Son of Odin.