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A Viking Age Tuna Boat Sewn Together with Roots


The remnants of a small Viking Age boat serve as the pattern for this modern reproduction, made with hand tools and sewn together as the Vikings themselves did.

Modern boat builders and craftsmen utilize their skills and ancient hand tools to reproduce a boat that was discovered and was dated back to the 9th century, the Viking Age. Not all boats of the Vikings were the famous warrior carrying longships. Some were smaller, utilitarian boats.

These boat builders work on behalf of the Viking Ship Museum, using old methods, or what are assumed to be old methods, of ship and boat construction. It is amazing what they accomplish.

"The original log boat was found in Sweden and dates from the early Viking Age, ca. mid-9th century. The boat is called the Tuna Badelunda Boat, after the site where it was found, west of Stockholm."


The boat is believed to be made from a single pine tree, hollowed out into the basic foundational shape.  The freeboard - the sides of the boat from the waterline - was heightened by sewing an extra plank on each side. The sewing was accomplished with the use of a bow drill to drill the holes and with spruce roots as the binding twine.

They used tools such as the axe, adze and an Iron Age plane to smooth the sides. They also shaped and expanded the shape of the boat by placing it over a fire and creating a steam bath with water and hot rocks. Several small cracks developed, but these were repaired by sewing in wooden patches with spruce roots.

The outside was painted with a layer of tar, and the side planks were hand hewn, painted with tar and held in place for sewing with branch and wooden clamps. Juniper frames were then inserted, and were secured using hand carved wooden pegs.

The small vessel is quite beautiful in its completed form.

Like what you see here? You can read more great articles by David Smith at his Facebook page, Stumpjack Outdoors.


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A Viking Age Tuna Boat Sewn Together with Roots