Through history and popular culture, the Vikings of the northern parts of Europe (Norway, Sweden, Finland) have always had a the reputation as hardened, sturdy folk who were able to deal with any situation head on, with the matter of fact clarity that make men and women swoon.
In my opinion, the importance of the Norse on European culture has always been underrated. They were prolific explorers and a critical piece of their traveling exploits were the amazingly sturdy, iconic boats that they built.
So as we fast forward a couple of thousand years to present day, we find the Norwegian Sigurd Aase, who in 2008, initiated a project to build a modern day version of the traditional Norse ship – the Draken Harald Hårfagre. The ship looks exactly like the traditional Norse ships, all the way down to the decorations and embellishments, and was built to as close to specification as could be.
The Vikings left almost no record of how they built their ships, or how they sailed them. Draken Harald Hårfagre is a recreation of what the Vikings would call a “Great Ship”, built with archaeological knowledge of found ships, using old boatbuilding traditions and the legends of Viking ships from the Norse sagas.
Yet, at the same time it has very modern technology built into it. Here is a video of it traversing the North Sea during a storm.
From their YouTube page:
Sometimes it is hard to imagine that this was just a couple of months ago. Draken and her crew have been through storms on the North Atlantic Ocean. What an achievement, sailing from Norway, to Shetland Islands, Faroe Islands, Iceland, Greenland, Newfoundland – just like the Vikings did a 1000 years ago, and into the St Lawrence Seaway, trough the locks and into the Great Lakes. She made it, it is a real modern Viking voyage.
Now, let’s think back a couple of thousand years when the ‘real’ Vikings sailed around the North sea, wearing handmade fur outerwear, navigating the seas in these boats with nothing but wooden oars. Pretty amazing. Pretty badass.