- Iron Working
Advances in wood fabricating led directly to larger and more seaworthy hulls and ships. The Longship represents the new open-ocean sailing vessels.
From their beginnings wooden ships have represented and demanded some of the most advanced construction techniques in order to survive the fury of the sea. Mediterranean shipbuilders pioneered tight-fitting mortise and tenon joints for ship’s hulls, but these were not strong enough to withstand the North Atlantic. There, as early as the first century BC shipwrights along the North Sea coasts of what is now Germany and Scandinavia built ships with a heavy frame of keel and ribs, over which they laid overlapping planks firmly pegged and fitted. These ’clinker built’ hulls were far stronger than anything built before, and the sturdy sailing vessels of the Veneti tribes gave Caesar’s Mediterranean-style oared fleet fits in 54-56 BC. Along with advances in sails and rigging, the keelson and ribbed clinker built hull formed the basis for all subsequent ocean-going wooden ships, from the Viking longship of the 8th century to the 18th century Ship of the Line.