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12.11.2019

Drakkar

Drakkar, or dreki 'dragon' are the type of ship, of thirty rowing benches and upwards that are only known from historical sources, such as the 13th-century Göngu-Hrólfs saga . Here, the ships are described as most unusual, elegant, ornately decorated, and used by those who went raiding and plundering. These ships were likely skeids that differed only in the carvings of menacing beasts, such as dragons and snakes, carried on the prow of the ship. These carvings allegedly protected the ship and crew, and warded off the terrible sea monsters of Norse mythology. It is however likely that the carvings, like those on the Oseberg ship, might have had a ritual purpose, or that the purported effect was to frighten enemies and townspeople.

The earliest mentioned Drakkar was possibly the ship of unstated size owned by Harald Fairhair in the tenth century. The first drakkar ship whose size was mentioned in the source was Olav Tryggvason's thirty-room Tranin, built at Nidaros in apex. 995. By far the most famous in this period was his later ship the Ormrinn Langi ('Long Serpent') of thirty-four rooms, built over the winter of 999 to 1000. No true dragon ship, as defined by the sagas, has been found by archaeological excavation.

The visual representation of how the Drakkar ship could have looked can be found on the Bergen seal from 1299 shows a ship with a dragonhead at either end, as do several of the ships on Viking Age.

                          

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