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Vikings in Iceland and the Islendingur Viking Ship

Iceland was first populated by Norwegian Vikings way back in the mists of time. It was in fact during the 9th Century when they first arrived on their Viking ships. So this is really rather recent when put into the context of world history. Over the proceeding centuries those hardy souls endured the harsh conditions of the wild and beautiful Icelandic terrain. They survived violent volcano eruptions and shuddering earthquakes. They were battered by wild storms and survived the ravages of long icy winters. The majority of the Icelandic people you will meet on your travels will be descendants of these Vikings.

Islendingur Viking Ship silhouette and sunset.

So as you admire Iceland’s natural beauty spare a thought for its people too. Finding out about the settlement and development of Iceland offers a whole new dimension to your trip. The fascinating history of Iceland can be explored in various museums around the island. There are in fact many ways to connect with and discover the Viking stories. From musical shows taking you through the Icelandic Sagas in song to re-enactments of battles or Viking feasts in themed restaurants.


In this article, we will look at the theme of settlement in general and all that came with it. We are also going to look a little more in depth at the Viking ship. These feats of engineering and craftsmanship are what enabled the Vikings to set out and explore new lands after all. Without them, Iceland would have remained uninhabited for many more years.


Types of Viking ships

The ships built during the Viking era were as unique as they are fascinating. They are generally split into two types. Merchant ships that were designed for moving cargo along rivers and coastal regions. Then the famous warships that were much sleeker and more manoeuvrable. They are often depicted with dragon’s heads or other fearsome motifs at the prow and the stern. Oar ports down both lengths of the ship allowed for optimum rowing angle and speed. The oars could then be pulled up and in and stored when the ship was under sail.


How were Viking ships made?

Viking ships were in general much lighter and much easier to control than other boats. They were built using what is known as the Clinker technique. This method used split planks of wood laid to overlap with one another. They would then be riveted together securely using iron. Bulbous wooden ribs maintained the integral shape of the hull during the construction process.