Viking ship, c 900.
© Science Museum / Science & Society Picture Library
Rigged model of a ship found at Gokstad, Norway, in 1880, and now in Oslo. The development of the dugout consisted of adding overlapping longitudinal planks, or clincher building, to construct a broader and more stable vesel. By 900 the clincher-built craft had become the well-proportioned Viking long-ship, the basic design principles of which were not much improved upon until the three-masted sailing ship of the 15th century. The Gokstad ship is 79 ft long, 16.8 ft wide and built of oak. It had 16 oars a side, each about 18 ft long. Using longships such as this, the Vikings sailed as far afield as the Black Sea, and established colonies in Greenland and Iceland. It is believed that in about 1001, Leif Ericson may even have been the first European to reach America.