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The Kvalsund Ships

Kvalsund Location Map
image: David Beard

The Kvalsund Ship is one of two ships discovered in a bog in Kvalsund in Herøy, Møre og Romsdal, Norway in 1920. The smaller of the two ships, Kvalsund I (Kvalsundferingen), is a small rowing boat 9.5 m in length. The larger ship, Kvalsund II (Kvalsundskipet), is c.18 m long and 3.2 meters at its broadest. It is clinker built with oak strakes and ribs of pine. The ship had a detachable rudder on one side, which could be removed in shallow water. The ship’s shape strongly suggests that it had a sail, bur no seating for a mast was discovered.

Recent dendrochronological dating has confirmed that the ships date to 780 to 800 AD 1, right at the beginning of the Viking Period. The ships were deliberately broken and then buried, but contained no sign of a body, which makes their deposition more in keeping with pre-Viking bog deposits, rather than the ship burials of the Viking Period.

In terms of its structure, Kvalsund II shows an interesting point in the  development in shipbuilding techniques between the Nydam Boat (dendrochronologically dated to between 310 and 320 AD) and the Oseberg Ship (constructed c. 820 2).

Replica of the Kvalsund Ship 2
image: Wikimedia
(click on the images to enlarge)

image: Berloga Workshop

image: Berloga Workshop


1, Nordeide, S. W.,Bonde, N. & Thun, T. (2020), “At the threshold of the Viking Age: New dendrochronological dates for the Kvalsund ship and boat bog offerings (Norway), Journal of Archaeological Science: Reports Volume 29.

2, Bonde, N., (1994), De norske vikingeskibsgraves alder. Et vellykket norsk-dansk forskningsprojekt, Nationalmuseets arbejdsmark, pp 128-147