The common image popping up in our heads about the Vikings is the warriors on a great ship crossing the ocean. The moments of the Viking glory would not have come without the Viking ships. As it helped the Vikings cross not only the ocean but also travel the time to make it a great legacy to us now. In this blog post, we are to list the most impressive Viking ship names and their meaning precisely and concisely.
What the Viking ships looked like?
By far, we have got both literal and archaeological evidence about the Viking ships. In the skaldic poems, Vikings ships appeared to be the flexible and marvelous at sea. They were the Serpents of the Sea according to the old texts.
The archaeological evidence also showed the same image of the Viking ships. The excavation of the Oseberg ship or Gokstad ship, for example, could attest to this. The ships were built not only for aestheticism but also for the strength on the ocean.
In fact, there were many types of the Viking ships. For example, the long ships (war-ships), the merchant ships, boats, etc. Their shapes varied from types to types to be suitable for the major purposes. As the merchant ships tent to focus on the cargo capacity, the long ships (war-ships) paid attention to the speed. This resulted in the difference in ship design.
The Vikings had a tradition of burying the ships with the dead. And obviously only the rich and noble could afford this kind of luxurious funeral. Most of the ships the archaeologists unearthed belonged to the Viking burial tombs.
The List of Viking Ship Names
The Viking ship names could be divided into two groups: historical and mythological names. The Vikings might call their ships with the names of animals that were sacred in their community. These savage but great warriors also called their ships after the names of saints, names of the shipbuilders or owners, names of the country towns, etc.
Names after the animals and birds
- Alptr Ship: The swan. In Norse mythology, swans were the Valkyries in disguise. And the Valkyries were the Odin’s female helping spirits who chose the warriors to join Valhalla.
- Falki Ship: The hawk. Hawk was the guardsman flying above the gate of Valhalla Odin’s Hall.
- Gragas Ship: The greygoose
- Trani Ship: The crane
- Uxi Ship: The ox
- Ormr inn langi Ship: The long serpent
- Dreki Ship: The dragon. This name originated in the first ship of King Harald around 870s. Later on, the chieftains and earls wanted to have a dragon themselves. So the names turned into a synonym for long ship.
Names after the saints/shipbuilders/owners/homes
This trend emerged around the 12th century onwards. This naming trend was also due to the political purposes as the rulers wanted to secure the importance of their church.
- Olafssud: St Olaf’s ship
- Petrsbolli: St Peter’s boat
- Katrlnarsii: St Catherine’s ship
- Gunnarsbat: The boat of Gunnar
- Ragnaslodi: Long ship of king Rakni
- Kristiforud: Christopher’s ship
- Rygiabrandr: this name originated from the people living in Rogaland in Norway
- Lysubuza: Viking trading ship from monastry Lysa
- Islendingr: The Icelandic
Poetical Viking ship names
- Svalbardi: The coolstem
- Fiardakolla: Cow of the fjord
- Fifa: Arrow
- Gullbringa: Goldbreast
- Skjoldr: Shield
Viking ship names from Norse mythology
- Skidbladnir: This was the name of Freyr’s boat. It was made by the dwarves and could be folded to fit one pocket.
- Naglfar: The “nail-ship”. Because according to the texts, the builders of the ships cut the nail of the dead to make the ship. When Ragnarok broke on the sky, this ship carried the dead from Helheim to join the battle.
- Hringhorni: Final resting ship of God Baldur. This ship was dedicated to God Baldur to carry him into his afterlife.