Vikings’ success to reach distant lands lies in their remarkable longships. The Vikings’ ships were the greatest technical and artistic achievement of the European Dark Ages. Without these great ships the Viking Age would never had happened.
Some of the Viking warships were huge and could carry a large number of Viking warriors. The largest ancient Viking ship ever discovered is Roskilde 6. The wreck of a 37-meters long warship was excavated from the banks of Roskilde fjord in Denmark in 1996-97 together with a number of other ships. This huge Viking ship was four meters longer than Henry VIII’s flagship Mary Rose.
The construction of Roskilde 6 has been dated to around AD 1025, the high point of the Viking Age, when England, Denmark, Norway and possibly parts of Sweden were united under the rule of Cnut the Great.
Cnut The Great (in Swedish: “Knut den Store”) became king over large parts of northern Europe, where commerce and culture flourished in his kingdoms.
Roskilde 6 could carry 100 Viking warriors. It is believed that Roskilde 6 part of a royal fleet, possibly connected with the wars fought by Cnut the Great to assert his authority over the North Sea Empire.
Seaworthy vessels, like Roskilde 6 gave Vikings opportunity to travel across four continents, colonize Iceland and Greenland and later reach America. The ships allowed the Vikings to bring home traded goods from the Middle East, the Byzantine Empire and from as far away as China.
Their long warships enabled the Vikings to transport invading armies so large that Danish kings were able to conquer England and create a North Sea empire. The ship was also a status symbol that demonstrated the might of the aristocracy.
In 2014, scientists re-assembled the surviving timbers, about 20 % of the original Roskilde 6 ship for display in a specially made stainless steel frame that reconstructs the full size and shape of the original ship.