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Thread: Viking Tar Production

  1. #1
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  2. #2
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    Default Re: Viking Tar Production

    Interesting article. What particularly got my attention, though was the estimate that it took about 1,600 man hours to build a Viking Longship. Wikipedia says these vessels were in the 50 to 100 foot long range. So, I compare the 1,600 hours to the time it took me to build my little Cosine Wherry, and I am astounded that they could make something like that so quickly. I'll have to remember to raise a glass of Aquavit to toast my Norwegian ancestor's skill.

  3. #3
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    Default Re: Viking Tar Production

    Maybe that's the time estimate to make the tar for a single ship? No way they built a ship in that many hours. It could easily take that many hours to bring the materials to the building site and forge the nails.

  4. #4
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    Default Re: Viking Tar Production

    Quote Originally Posted by J.Madison View Post
    Maybe that's the time estimate to make the tar for a single ship? No way they built a ship in that many hours. It could easily take that many hours to bring the materials to the building site and forge the nails.
    Yes, from the academic article:

    As in historical times, the need for tar to support Viking Age maritime activities was probably extensive. Based on experiments, Ravn (2016) has estimated the amount of tar required for the construction of a large ‘personnel carrier’ at approximately 500 litres. This quantity of tar would require approximately 18m3 of wood, and some 1600 working hours to produce.

  5. #5
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    Default Re: Viking Tar Production

    Thanks for posting , very interesting .
    '' You ain't gonna learn what you don't want to know. ''
    Grateful Dead

  6. #6
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    Default Re: Viking Tar Production

    When I was building boats in Norway, I saw a farm that had an enormous iron kettle, easily 4' tall and the same in diameter. It had a spout and valve near the bottom, and stacked around the kettle were all the sappy and resin rich chunks of Furu-Norwegian Pine.
    When there was enough material collected a fire was started in the bottom of the kettle and then rest packed in, then sod and dirt were put on top to keep the temperature low and the fire controlled, since the object was the pine tar, not charcoal or heat. I wish I had owned a camera then, as I cannot remember if a secondary fire was made below the kettle to help the tar flow.
    I never saw it in action, or found what was the desired temperature, or how long a batch took to make in this kettle, but the smell of real pine tar in the shop instantly transports me back to Norway, and boats under construction and shavings on the floor.

  7. #7
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    Default Re: Viking Tar Production

    I had always thought that originally the pine tar was a by-product of charcoal production, but it sounds like it may well have been the other way 'round. Fascinating!

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