Top 5 Greatest Viking Longships Of Contemporary Times

Here is a top of the five greatest Viking Age longships built in contemporary times. The following are either replicas of well known Viking longships or vessels that have been built from scratch, based on the concept of the ships used by the Norsemen during the early Middle Ages.

For this top, there have been taken into account the following criteria: length, durability, authenticity, and crew capacity. Before getting to the proper top however, it’d very wise to enlist a few honorable mentions.

Saga Siglar, as seen near the Opera in Sydney, Australia. Image source: www.commons.wikimedia.org

Vidfamne in 1994. Image source: www.commons.wikimedia.org

Other honorable mentions include: Helge Ask, Ottar, and Gaia.

And without further ado, here’s the top:

5. Sebbe Als (Denmark)


Sebbe Als is the replica of the Skuldelev wreck number 5 (which is on display at the Viking Ship Museum in Roskilde, Denmark). It is a ‘snekke’, typically the smallest of the Viking Age vessels used in warfare, being thus 17 metres (or 56 feet) long, with at least 20 rowing benches, and a crew capacity of 30 people.

Viking ship Sebbe Als of Augustenborg, Denmark under sail (August, 2006). Author: Steen Weile, Notmark, Denmark. Image source: www.commons.wikimedia.org

It was laid down in 1968 and launched one year later. It can achieve a speed of 12 knots (or 22 kilometres/hour). Its homeport is Augustenborg, a town situated on Als Island, in Sønderborg Municipality, Region of Southern Denmark in Denmark. The ship is still in use.

4. Saga Oseberg (Norway)


The Saga Oseberg is a full scale replica of the iconic Oseberg ship which was excavated from a Viking Age burial mound located in Tønsberg, Vestfould county, southern Norway, at the round of the 20th century by archaeologists Haakon Shetelig (from Norway) and Gabriel Gustafson (from Sweden).

The original Oseberg ship is among the most well preserved of its kind, and together with some of the artefacts that had been discovered from its burial mound, is on display at the Viking Ship Museum in Oslo. Parts of the ship are dated 800 AD, but the vessel itself is thought to be considerably older.

Saga Oseberg in Tønsberg, southern Norway. Author: Karl Ragnar Gjertsen. Image source: www.commons.wikimedia.org

The Saga Oseberg is the finest replica of the original ship, having a length of 21.6 metres (or 70 feet). It was built during two years, from 2010 until 2012, in the city of Tønsberg, by a group of volunteers and professional craftsmen, using authentic procedures and techniques dating back to the Viking Age.

3. Íslendingur (Iceland)


Íslendingur is Icelandic for ‘Icelander’. The ship was built in 1996 by shipwright Gunnar Marel Eggertsson from Vestmannaeyjar, an archipelago off the southern coast of Iceland. This ship is a replica of the Gokstad (a 9th century Viking longship discovered in Sandefjord, Vestfold county, Norway), having a length of 22.5 metres (or 73 feet).

Being initially designed as a teaching tool on the Viking Age for children, the Íslendingur had subsequently set sail from Iceland’s capital city Reykjavík on the National Day of Iceland, 17th of June, 2000, across the Atlantic Ocean, as part of the builder’s ambition to take the ship to the millenary celebration of Leif Ericsson’s voyage to Vinland, which was held at L’Anse aux Meadows, Newfoundland, Canada (where the only known Norse settlement in North America is situated). It had a crew capacity of 9 people.

It is out of service since 2008, but on display at the Viking World Museum, located in the small town of Njarðvík, Reykjanesbær municipality, southwestern Iceland.

Íslendingur arriving at L'Anse-aux-Meadows, Newfoundland, Canada in October, 2000, as photograph by Joyce Hill. Image source: www.wikipedia.org

Íslendingur arriving at L’Anse aux Meadows, Newfoundland, Canada in October, 2000, as photograph by Joyce Hill. Image source: www.commons.wikimedia.org

2. Havhingsten fra Glendalough (Denmark)


The Sea Stallion from Glendalough (Danish: Havhingsten fra Glendalough) is a 2004 reconstructed replica of Skuldelev ship number 2 (the second largest Viking Age ship that was discovered to date), which is also on display at the Viking Ship Museum in Roskilde, Denmark. It is undoubtedly one of the largest contemporary Viking vessels, with a length of 30 metres (or 100 feet) and a total crew capacity of 65 people.

The original ship upon which the Sea Stallion is based was constructed in the proximity of Dublin in circa 1042, out of oak stemming from Glendalough, County Wicklow, Ireland (hence the name ‘Sea Stallion from Glendalough’). The construction of the replica took four years of careful work, namely from 2000 to 2004. Additionally, a research trip to Dublin took place in the summer of 2007.

Havhingsten fra Glendalough (Sea Stallion from Glendalough), a reconstructed Viking Age ship under construction at the dockyards in Roskilde (2003). Image source: www.commons.wikimedia.org

The Sea Stallion was briefly put on display at the National Museum of Ireland, from August, 2007 to May, 2008. It is currently on display at the Viking Ship Museum in Roskilde. Shortly after the reenacting voyage was completed, the National Bank of Denmark issued a special 20-kroner coin in June, 2008 so as to celebrate the event. The 2007 summer voyage to Dublin was also subject to a BBC documentary.

1. Draken Harald Hårfagre (Norway)


Arguably the largest Viking ship built in contemporary times, the Draken Harald Hårfagre is the brightest jewel of this top. Named after Harald Fairhair, the Norwegian Viking king who unified Norway at the Battle of Hafrsfjord during the late part of the 9th century, this ship is a skeið (skeid) — the largest and most powerful war-waging Viking longship type which could consist of more than 30 rowing benches.

It is 35 metres (or 115 feet) long, has 25 pairs of oars and a crew capacity of 100 people. This magnificent ‘wood dragon’ was laid down in March, 2010 and launched on the 5th of June, 2012. It was built in the municipality of Haugesund, southwestern Norway.

Draken Harald Hårfagre (Dragon Harald Fairhair) in 2014. Image source: www.commons.wikimedia.org

Draken Harald Hårfagre left the port of Haugesund on the 26th of April, 2016, in order to set sail across the North Atlantic Ocean for Newfoundland, aiming to reenact the first transatlantic Norse voyage to North America. The ship stopped in the Shetlands and the Faroes, as well as in Iceland and Greenland, before making the landfall on Newfoundland, on the 1st of June, 2016 that year. Subsequent stops have scheduled on the North American coast in late 2016.

Documentation sources and external links:


7 Responses to Top 5 Greatest Viking Longships Of Contemporary Times

  1. Simon Costain says:

    Missing ‘Odin’s Raven’ from the Isle of Man!

  2. You totally missed Saga Oseberg the most arketypically and most beautifull ship of Freyas the daughter of Njord…

  3. M says:

    Draken isent really a viking ship… its a mix of several different types of ships. Also it has an engine… how does that qualify for this list?

    • author says:

      Hello, and thank you for reading the Dockyards. To answer your question, Draken Harald Hårfagre is an authentic Viking Age longship. It was designed under exquisite care and attention by the foremost traditional boat builders in Norway.

      Sources on which the research was carried out for building this oceangoing Norwegian warship include not only archaeological material, but also descriptions on the types of vessels from the sagas written in Old Norse, as well as depictions from other similar literary manuscripts of the early Middle Ages.

      In this respect, the building process was indeed rather unconventional (compared to how other replicas have been built to date), but it ultimately proved effective. It was finally a goal achieved by the shipwrights involved in this ambitious project, namely to have a ship with 50 oars, as the legendary ones accounted in the sagas.

      That being said, it qualifies for each criterion given in the beginning of the article (i.e. length, durability, authenticity and crew capacity). I sincerely hope my explanation was as accurate as you have expected.

  4. Topp 5 | BOV says:

    […] THE DOCKYARDS presenterar en fin sammanställning på nu seglande vikingaskepp. […]

  5. Jamie Larson says:

    How could you exclude the first Viking replica ship built and sailed in modern times? When she sailed in 1893 from Norway to the U.S., “Viking” proved that the voyage of Leif Erikson was possible, seven decades before the discovery at L’Anse aux Meadows.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.