Draken Harald Hårfagreis (lit. “Dragon Harald Fairhair” – named for the first King of Norway) the largest Viking Longship built in modern times – quite a feat considering there are no existing plans form the original boats!
The ship left Norway in April 2016 with Capt. Björn Ahlander and his crew of 33 brave seafarers, to cross the Atlantic as their forefathers did when they discovered the ‘New World’ over 1000 years ago. The Longship is classed as a ’25-sesse’ (holding 25 pairs of oars) – each oar is powered by two people – though thankfully, no rowing on this trip! Of course a Longship is not seaworthy without plenty of sail and the Draken has 260 square metres (2,800 sq ft) in two sets; canvas for the open sea and silk to sail inland.
The Draken Harald Hårfagreis is 35 metres (115 ft) long with a beam of approximately 8 metres (26 ft) and a displacement of about 95 metric tons. Built of Oak and Spruce, coated in Linseed Oil & Pine Tar and beautifully carved with knotwork throughout. Built between March 2010 and it’s launch in 2012, it was a massive undertaking in research, building and learning to sail a ship of this size and shape. The one important factor in Viking Longships that made them so unusual was that they could not only cross an Ocean, but could sail inland, up rivers, where more typical ships could not go. The Draken was built with the experience of traditional Norwegian shipbuilders – a living tradition with roots firmly planted in the era of Viking. The word “Viking” originally applied to many Peoples who journeyed by sea to discover new lands – Norwegian, Danish, Swedish, Icelandic… The first place they landed on this side of the Atlantic was Labrador & Newfoundland, sailing down the coast into the mouth of the St. Lawrence River and as far south as at least New York City!
There are three runes carved into the bow: Algiz, Tiwaz and Raidho. Each rune is part of an 8 character set (aett) named for the Norse Gods Freya, Heimdall and Tyr.
- Algiz (Heimdall’s Aett): The Elk – Protection
- Tiwaz (Tyr’s Aett): Tyr, The Sky God – Honor, justice, leadership and authority
- Raidho (Freya’s Aett): A Vessel or Chariot – A journey, vacation, relocation, evolution, change of place or setting
I caught up with the Longship just prior to their journey into the Welland Canal and beyond into the rest of the Great Lakes. Visit their Website and Social Media to follow their journey…and if you’re lucky, visit with them in a port near you!