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J. Dillon
02-06-2004, 04:17 PM
Viking rudders has me puzzled. :confused: Their long boats had a relatively small rudder hung on the stb. side. Being off center and out of the wake of the stern, were they more effective? What about heeling ? Depending on what tack the boat was on, the rudder would be deeper in or further out of the water?

I assume they were pretty satified with what they had as they kept it so for centuries.

Does any Fourmite have detailed knowledge of rudder evolution of Norse long boats ?

JD

Sam F
02-06-2004, 04:26 PM
They're not very different from earlier versions.
Here's a Roman one from the turn of the 1st Century.
Note the "modern" anchor. ;)
http://cheiron.humanities.mcmaster.ca/~trajan/images/hi/2.7.h.jpg

Don Maurer
02-06-2004, 05:20 PM
It seems to me it would be basically the same as steering a canoe. Since the rudder is an oar on the longship, the depth can easily be adjusted by the helmsman. Being on the starboard side, steering would be more effective to starboard than to port because you have more angle to work with. No doubt it was effective enough to port, though.

KenC
02-06-2004, 05:45 PM
I don't know personally, but I recently stumbled across this website. Its "keeper" may know something about your question.

http://home.online.no/~joeolavl/viking/sunnmorsfaering.htm

J. Dillon
02-06-2004, 07:49 PM
Renderings by artists can't always be counted on for accuracy. :rolleyes: The Roman boat in the image is a typical example. :eek: The rudder seems to be "balanced". I doubt it would be so to that extent. :confused: Did that type of anchor appear in the 1 st century ?

Ken,

Thanks for the site. :cool: I'll have to study it.

JD

MKane
02-06-2004, 08:49 PM
Great Site ! Look under \VikingshipIndex\Rock Carvings of boats\,the second image. Looks like we may have found the inventor of the "Jet Ski"
:D :eek:

MK

[ 02-06-2004, 09:24 PM: Message edited by: MKane ]

brian.cunningham
02-06-2004, 11:01 PM
From James Wharram's visit to the the Viking Ship Museum, Denmark
http://www.wharram.com/images/Viking_Ship_Hall.jpg
http://www.wharram.com/1203_james.shtml
http://www.wharram.com/images/017_NC.jpg
http://www.wharram.com/images/Dsc03146.jpg
http://www.wharram.com/images/James_steering_Helge.jpg

[ 02-06-2004, 11:05 PM: Message edited by: brian.cunningham ]

Sam F
02-07-2004, 02:59 PM
Originally posted by J. Dillon:
Renderings by artists can't always be counted on for accuracy. :rolleyes: The Roman boat in the image is a typical example. :eek: The rudder seems to be "balanced". I doubt it would be so to that extent. :confused: Did that type of anchor appear in the 1 st century ?
That basic anchor design is much older than that. Earlier versions often were entirely of wood with a large stone lashed to the stock for weight. Improved versions had iron-shod flukes.
When I get a chance I’ll try to look up the earliest version I can find.
Yes artists don't always depict things accurately but that image came from Trajan's column and many of the things depicted on it are done so with great detail and accuracy. (the pontoon bridge for instance is amazing)
I think you can be safe in assuming that particular steering oar is accurate, but there were many varieties in use. Many ancient Mediterranean ships use pairs of steering oars one per side and not all of them were balanced.
This one is from the Greek Kyrenia merchant ship (original was early 4th Century BC) replica:
http://cma.soton.ac.uk/HistShip/jsi909.jpg
Notice that there are two tillers, one per side and these oars appear balanced. I imagine that steering by shoving the tillers in opposite directions takes some getting used to!
Here's a modern reconstruction from the trireme Olympias. It’s steering oar is most definitely not balanced!
http://cma.soton.ac.uk/HistShip/jsi833.jpg

Lots more images can be seen at:
History and Archaeology of the Ship Site (http://cma.soton.ac.uk/HistShip/Trimen.htm)

One thing not often appreciated is that, with the exception of large cargo vessels, ancient Greek and Roman ships were typically beached stern first - something that would be very damaging to a conventional rudder. That makes sense given the lack of improved harbors in those days and the prospect of backing a vessel into the surf must have been not too pleasant. Warships equipped with a ram simply had to beach stern first. (Beaching bow first made for a very long stay. :D ) To accomplish stern first beaching, the steering oars had to be able to lift up out of the water and away from damage. One would think that the Vikings had the same problems and would thus have preferred similar solutions.

Sam F
02-07-2004, 03:04 PM
Just for fun... Here's a full view of the Kyrenia ship. Looks like a fine vessel easily adapted to coastal cruising! smile.gif

http://cma.soton.ac.uk/HistShip/jsi772.jpg

ahp
02-07-2004, 05:30 PM
I have no experiance with these rudders, but they appear to have a very significant vertue. They could be replaced at sea, in reasonable weather conditions. This is essentially impossible with modern rudders.

Consider this scenario. Ragnar Hellraiser with his sword Brainbiter and his merry band have crept up an estuary with no channel markers, and no Coast Guard either. It is the year 900. They have raided the local monastery, stolen the silver and murdered a few monks just for fun.

The alarm has gone out. The local Lord and men-at-arms are on their way. It is time for Ragnar to be leaving. On the way back to sea, they run over a gravel bank and break the stearing oar. Do you think they can beach the boat and repair it? No! Beaching is not an option.

J. Dillon
02-07-2004, 10:34 PM
Sam, thanks for the facts on rudders . Good images of them on various Greek vessels. I had no idea they were so balanced.

Are you eagerly anticipating the new hollywood epic on "Helen of Troy" ? Looks like their might be some sea battles. :cool:

I guess with two rudders you have a spare and one coming out of the water is offset by the one digging deeper. I hope the helmsman work together. ;)

Ahp, good point about repairs at sea.

JD

[ 02-07-2004, 10:54 PM: Message edited by: J. Dillon ]

JeffH
02-08-2004, 12:56 AM
Apparently, the Viking rudder design was more subtle than it would initially appear. Back a few years ago ('97, maybe?), there was an attempt to replicate Leif Ericsson's voyage from Greenland to L'Anse aux Medows in the Snorri. Snorri was a mostly accurate reprocuction of a knarr, a tubbier and slower version of the longboat that served as a cargo boat. The first attempt at the voyage resulted in failure because of constant troubles with the rudder; mostly the line attaching at the pivot point kept breaking. Many theories about rudder plane area, rake, length, line material and so forth were put forward; the result, if memory serves, being a smaller, but less effective, rudder. The second voyage of the Snorri was successful. However, that trip from Greeland to Newfoundland took longer than Columbus' first voyage to the new world...

Jeff

Sam F
02-09-2004, 10:10 AM
Originally posted by J. Dillon:
Sam, thanks for the facts on rudders . Good images of them on various Greek vessels. I had no idea they were so balanced.

Are you eagerly anticipating the new hollywood epic on "Helen of Troy" ? Looks like their might be some sea battles. :cool:
I hadn't heard of such a movie. I think there was a cable mini-series of that name recently but since I don't have cable I haven't seen it. Do you have any other information on this new one?

Keith Wilson
02-09-2004, 10:28 AM
Title's "Troy". I saw the trailer before LOTR. Here's a link to the official movie web site (http://troymovie.warnerbros.com/) - Looks like a real old-time epic (after Gladiator and LOTR they're back in fashion, I guess) starring Brad Pitt and thirty million extras.

Sam F
02-09-2004, 02:14 PM
Originally posted by Keith Wilson:
...starring Brad Pitt and thirty million extras.I think that would be 29 million, nine hundred and ninety-nine thousand, nine hundred and 99 digital extras. smile.gif

Bill Perkins
02-10-2004, 09:48 AM
J. ; I’ve found my copy of The Viking Ships in Oslo ,which I purchased at the museum there . Here’s the description and photo of the rudder on the Oseberg ship ; 21.5 meters long , 5.10 meters beam ,depth from gunnel to keel amidships 1.58 meters . The boat's very narrow at the steering station , so I wouldn't think there'd be much difference in the amount of immersed rudder on different tacks .
http://www.imagestation.com/picture/sraid103/p4c085be9544c120bfa237e27203e2a83/f9a8ca6d.jpg

"The rudder is shaped roughly like a large oar and is placed on the starboard side aft. It is held in place at the gunnel by a broad, plaited band of leather which could be undone easily. Further down the ship's side, it is fastened by a strong oak cleat. An elastic withe made from pine root is threaded through this cleat and a corresponding hole in the blade of the rudder, and is fastened to the so-called rudder rib inside. The elasticity of the withe makes it possible to turn the rudder on its own longitudinal axis by means of a tiller which is mortised into the neck of the rudder and projects into and across the ship.
As the rudder goes about 20 cm deeper than the keel, it was necessary that one should be able to raise it in shallow waters; the leather band on the gunnel was then undone and the rudder swung up by means of a rope fastened to the heel. The Gokstad ship has a staple on the heel to which the rope was fastened, but this is omitted on the Oseberg ship."

[ 02-10-2004, 12:32 PM: Message edited by: Bill Perkins ]

J. Dillon
02-10-2004, 11:39 PM
Interesting Bill. Still not sure how much "wobble" occured in the rudder with two means of affixing to the hull. I wonder just how much play existed in the leather band and how often it needed to be replaced? :confused:

Also gives rise to another question regarding bottom fouling and how it was delt with during that period and in northern waters. Periodic scraping growth off was an option but a cold one. :eek: Did they have some kind of coating beside "tallow" ?

JD

lagspiller
02-11-2004, 05:57 AM
Bottom fouling was not a problem... and especially for a longship. All these boats were regularly drawn up on land - whether they were workboats or warships.

A longship was a very special sort of craft... definately not for just anyone. Only a king (or local "nobleman") would have the wealth or right to own and keep a longship. They were expensive and exclusive ships used ONLY for fighting.

A longship was fast and needed a rather large crew to be of any use. Already around year 800, the major kings demanded that local leaders pledged and kept ready a certain number of fighting men and ships in each region. The king could call these ships to service at very short notice.. and did so regularly. This was called the king's "leidang".

When not in 'service', a longship was kept high and dry and in top condition - so as to be fast and ready if the king made a 'request'. Anything less was a death sentence for the longship owner.

BTW... If you are really interested in this sort of information - you should read the book "Snorre" by Mr. Snorre Sturlason, skald and nobleman. Written around 1200 on Iceland about the real beginning of the world and the Norwegian kings. It is a very good read and was a favorite of Mr. E. Hemingway among others. It is claimed that "Snorre" is where Hemingway got his writing style. Exciting stuff unlike most other old books...
tom

[ 02-11-2004, 06:07 AM: Message edited by: lagspiller ]

Alan D. Hyde
02-11-2004, 10:15 AM
Thanks, lagspiller.

Grettir's Saga is good, too.

Remarkable stories of stirring times and events. And the Althing is the world's oldest parliamentary body continuously in existence, of which I am aware.

Alan

[ 02-11-2004, 10:17 AM: Message edited by: Alan D. Hyde ]

Bill Perkins
02-11-2004, 01:43 PM
Apparently Pine roots are stronger and more flexible than I would have guessed .JD ;another photo showed the plaited leather strap terminating inboard as two separate loops with tapered wooden toggles bearing against the hull that could clearly be driven very tight ,or quickly knocked out .I doubt there was looseness there .

J. Dillon
02-11-2004, 02:17 PM
Bill , thanks, thats a good tip and I will be sure to get that book out of the local library......if they have it.

Been working on a model of a 10 century viking boat. I think the plans are all wrong( rudder on port side and other discrepancies) but it will do for now.

I did read somewhere that the shields were never hung on the sides as usually depicted. This would make sense when sailing as the leeward shields could be swept away. Also when rowing was the mast struck a long with the rest of the sailing rig to be stored on an T shaped overhead rack ?

I guess a lot of Viking myths persist like the horned helmits to name one. :eek:

JD

lagspiller
02-12-2004, 03:25 AM
Originally posted by J. Dillon:
Been working on a model of a 10 century viking boat. I think the plans are all wrong( rudder on port side and other discrepancies) but it will do for now.
JDThis is not necessarily wrong - even though 'starboard' is usually thought to have derived from "styrbord" - steering board. I think many boats even had the possibility to change sides... spread the wear & tear.


Originally posted by J. Dillon:
I did read somewhere that the shields were never hung on the sides as usually depicted. This would make sense when sailing as the leeward shields could be swept away. Also when rowing was the mast struck a long with the rest of the sailing rig to be stored on an T shaped overhead rack ?
JDThe rig is very easy to mount and remove. Also the "T-shaped rack" went up and down quickly.

Getting the most speed was generally the major concern. These a longship was damned fast both for sail and oar. They were rowed as much as they were sailed. Of course, it is more 'romantic' to depict them both rowing and sailing at the same time. I seriously doubt that would ever happen. Probably something a viking might tell newbie-jokes about...

What many do not understand is just how good these boats really were. I have read accounts of an Atlantic crossing in a replica. It was sailed at 20 knots for hours at a time between Norway and Iceland. That is impressive sailing for any boat. Imagine doing that 1000 years ago?

Another myth is that the rig doesn't go well to the wind. But I have seen tests of a different replica which sailed even with and pointed just as high as the modern fractional rigged boat used as 'control boat' in the tests (don't remember which boattype... one of the typical regatta boats from our area).

Wrong discussion about flexibilty?
One last thing - these boats have very little freeboard (as mentioned in the comment about the shields). Why didn't most of them sink in blow? That has to do with the flexibility - the discussion about getting enough stiffness in the steering oar or hull is exactly the opposite of what a viking would have been interested in acheiving.

The viking ship is designed to flex. In fact, a new boat would be taken out in the first good blow with an overload of men onboard. They would ride the rail until the forces would loosen all the fittings and boards enough to make the boat safe. Leaky, but safe.
Trad. boats here are still made to the same principle. I have shaken the stern post of an Åfjordboat of about 25'... when the stern twisted to starboard, the bow twisted to port! I could move the sternpost laterally about a foot with very little effort! An oselver is stiffer, but still very loose compared to a skiff.

So a viking ship (or a sewn boat where the frames were the LAST things to go in) never cut through the sea... it twisted over the waves like a snake.

tom

Bill Perkins
02-12-2004, 08:11 AM
JD the book I mentioned describes the various grave digs and all that was found in them,it's not about the boats alone ; it's a museum catalogue .Here is a book , in English, from its bibliography which focuses on the boats : "The Viking Ships- Their Ancestry and Evolution " by A.W.Brogger & Haakon Shetelig, Oslo 1950, English edition 1953 .Let me know if you run this one down.It's described as giving "the best description of the actual ships, seen in a wider context."

There's a stunning model collection at the Mariner's Museum at Newport News that includes a viking ship.The book I have:"The Viking Ships in Oslo"by Thorleif Sjovold.Universitetets Oldsaksamling, Oslo 1985

[ 02-12-2004, 09:16 AM: Message edited by: Bill Perkins ]

John E Hardiman
02-12-2004, 11:22 AM
Originally posted by J. Dillon:
Their long boats had a relatively small rudder hung on the stb. side. Being off center and out of the wake of the stern, were they more effective? Just to put a modern techie oar in the water, a long high length/beam symmetrical hull with cutaway bow and stern and no deadwood has small, but positive, directional stability indices. It will track true but does not take a large rudder force to make it turn. Canoes and whaleboats are similar that way.