Norwegian Boat Building

Norwegian Viking Longship



The beginning of Norwegian boat building...

The Oseberg Ship (Osebergshipet) is on display at The Viking Museum, part of the Museum of Cultural History, University of Oslo.

Longships, Longboats, also known as Norse or Viking Long Ships.
(The pictures above are the sole properties of
The Museum of Cultural History, University of Oslo.)

These long, narrow wooden ships with double prows (front and back,) square sails and oars, were the fastest, most maneuverable ships of the Viking or Early Middle Ages. Longships were one of many kinds of Scandinavian ships and boats.

Ancient folks lived in dread of Vikings and took to the hills in fear when these longboats with their towering curvy points, fore, and aft, arrived on their shores, while wives of these Scandinavian sailors rejoiced at their return with bounties of treasure from foreign lands. Evidence of these ancient adventurers' settlements can still be seen in Newfoundland.

When I was in Istanbul, I visited the ancient Aya Sofya Museum, which was originally a church.
aya-sophia-museum-turkey You will find evidence that the Norwegian Vikings had spent time here - as the carvings of their names are still on the marble railings.

The Aya Sofya Museum was the largest single enclosed space on earth for 900 years.
The Aya Sofya Museum
Istanbul, Turkey

So where did the Norwegian boat building take place?

Who built them? Is Norwegian boat building as a family skill still being practiced today?

Volda Fjord, Rystene, Ørsta

To answer many of these questions, a place to visit is Bjørkedalen, a picturesque village in the municipality of Volda in Western Norway.

Western Norway is home to the fjords with those dramatic fingers crouching inland bringing the sparkling, blue sea with them.

A natural place for Norwegian boat building, you say, right on the fjords?

But wait, Bjørkedalen isn't right on the's 8 Km. (Kilometers) - 4.970 Miles) from the why Bjørkedalen?

Volda in Winter, Rotevatnet & Rotevass Setra

Ships are still being built 8 km. from the fjord.

Wooden boats need raw materials for their construction and the pine forests surrounding Bjørkedalen provide all the wood necessary. Shipbuilding and farming are the most significant industries here, not just now, but for hundreds of years past as well.

These giant pine trees have sailed on many a sea, fjord, lake, and river, for not all ships built at Bjørkedalen are large.

All types of Norwegian ship creating goes on here - large and small - boats for fishing, barging, sailing and even little rowboats have been rolled out from this place.

Rolled? Yes, rolled. Being 8 kilometers from the sea (fjord), the ships need to be rolled away on a special boat-wagon to the village of Kile and launched there on the fjord.

In times past, this horse-drawn boat-wagon rolling-event would bring out the entire village to volunteer their help with the moving. Even today, with tractors being used to move the same old boat-wagon, the entire village, with a population of 150, become involved. Each time a reproduction Viking ship leaves the village which is also called, "Jakobs-Garden" (or the "Farm of Jacob"), all join in for a village feast.

Old contract books from this Norwegian boat-building village's ancestors show a remarkable production of boats from Bjørkedalen that has been going on for hundreds of years.

Jakob D. Bjørkedal is also known for the full-size replicas of historical boats now on display at the Sunnmøre Museum in Ålesund, (I have seen these Viking Ships at the Sunnmøre Museum in Ålesund...they bring history alive and are truly remarkable!)

Jakob and his brothers learned Norwegian boatbuilding from their father.

This small replica is a popular tourist souvenir, reminding visitors to Norway of the famous Norwegian boatbuilding skill and industry.

They built models of "The "Kvalsund Ship", and reproductions of Viking ships, including, "The Oseberg Ship", "The Gokstad Ship" and "the "Saga Siglar".

They also built models of smaller sailing vessels and rowing boats.

Jacob D. Bjørkedal has developed this model (picture below) among other model Viking ships.

viking model ship

Replica of a Viking Ship, created in wood by Jacob D. Bjørkedal.

This small replica is a popular tourist souvenir, reminding visitors to Norway of the famous Norwegian boat building skill and industry.


Miniature replica of a Viking Longship made in pewter.

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Contributing writer's note:

Our church, Living Water, in Muscatine, Iowa was given this model Viking ship by Asbjørn Simmones, professor at Volda University College of Higher Learning in Volda Municipality, Norway My cousin (on my father's side) is the mayor of Volda. I'm also a cousin (on my mother's side) of the owner of this Yes...that makes me a Norwegian, as well. © Copyright 2020
All Rights Reserved

Visit my pearl website here: Kari Pearls, after learning about Norwegian boat building.

To find out more about Vikings, check out the links below.

Go to Traces of Vikings Found in England.

Check out how the Norwegian Vikings baked their dinner in the ground.

Go to Mark's site grassfedrecipes for Great Lamb Recipes and a lot more.

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