Knarr

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The Knarr (knorr, pl knarren) was a Viking vessel, the transport version of the famous longship. Whilst of a generally similar design to the notorious dragon ships, keeping the raised curved bow and stern, knarren were shorter, fatter (a length to beam ratio of about 3:1.) with a greater draught (depth under water) and a higher freeboard (higher sides above the water.) They carried oars but were almost exclusively wind-driven.

The type is first mentioned in the sagas to do with the Battle of Hafstfjord, traditionally fought sometime between AD 872 and 890 and said to have united Norway. Descriptions in the sagas and archaeological finds suggest an average length between 15 and 21 metres (about 47 to 68 feet) with a likely crew numbering 15 to 25 persons. A smaller version was built for the waterways of eastern Europe and was known as the east-faring knarr. By the high Middle Ages the type seems to have developed into a version of the cog.

Whilst having no hold at all on popular imagination, knarren probably constituted the bulk of the Viking fleet, especially in the colonisation of Iceland – where placenames such as Knarrasund illustrate the connection - and trade and settlement in Ireland and Britain.

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