Fun Fact: Leif Erikson landed in North America nearly 500 years before Columbus.
If not for their ships the Viking Age probably wouldn’t have happened. They used these great vessels to travel as far west as North America, South to northern Africa, and east to Russia. Not only were these ships extremely capable at sea, they were also great works of art. The detailed carvings on many of the prows are quite amazing.
They were clinker built with a keel that ran the length of the hull. This made them extremely flexible and sea worthy. The single mast held a large square sail.
The hull was long and narrow with a shallow-draft and symmetrical bow and stern. This made for a very fast ship that could also navigate up narrow and shallow rivers. The symmetrical shape allowed them to quickly change direction without having to turn the ship around.
As great as their ships were, brave men were still required to man them. One can only imagine how scary it would be in the ocean on one of these open ships. It was not uncommon for ships to be lost at sea. For example, Erik the Red led 25 ships to Greenland, but only 14 actually arrived.