UNESCO lists wooden sailboats from the Viking Age on the heritage list

UNESCO lists wooden sailboats from the Viking Age on the heritage list

ROSKILDE, DENMARK – For thousands of years, wooden sailboats allowed the peoples of northern Europe to spread trade, influence and sometimes war across seas and continents.

In December, the UN’s cultural body added Nordic “clinker boats” to its list of representing traditions Mankind’s intangible cultural heritage. Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway and Sweden jointly applied for the UNESCO designation.

The term “clinker” is believed to refer to how the boat’s wooden boards are fastened together.

Supporters of the successful nomination hope that it will preserve and preserve the boatbuilding technology that drove the Viking Age for future generations as the number of active clinker craftsmen fades and fishermen and others choose ships with cheaper fiberglass hulls.

“We can see that the skills to build them, the skills to sail the boats, the knowledge of people who sail … it goes down and it disappears”, says Søren Nielsen, head of the shipyard at the Viking Ship Museum in Roskilde, west of Copenhagen.

The museum not only exhibits the remains of wooden vessels built 1,000 years ago, but also works to rebuild and reconstruct other Viking boats. The process involves using experimental archaeological methods to gain a deeper and more practical understanding of the Viking Age, such as how fast the ships sailed and how many people they carried.

Nielsen, who oversees the construction and repair of wooden boats built in the clinker tradition, said that there are only about 20 practicing clinker boat craftsmen in Denmark, perhaps 200 in all of northern Europe.

“We think it’s a tradition we have to show, and we have to tell people that this was part of our background,” he told the Associated Press.

Wooden clinker boats are characterized by the use of overlapping longitudinal wooden hull planks that are sewn or riveted together.

Builders reinforce the boats’ interiors with additional wooden components, mainly tall oaks, which form the ship’s ribs. They stuff the gaps in between with tar or tallow mixed with animal hair, wool and moss.

“When you build it with these overlaps inside, you get a hull that is quite flexible but at the same time incredibly strong,” explained Triona Sørensen, curator at Roskilde’s Viking Ship Museum, which is home to the remains of five 1000s remains. Viking boats built with clinker methods.

Nielsen said that there is evidence that clinker technology first appeared thousands of years ago, during the Bronze Age.

But it was during the Viking Age that the clinker boats had their zenith, according to Sørensen. The era, from 793 to 1066, is when northerners, or Vikings, carried out large-scale looting, colonization, conquest and trade voyages throughout Europe. They also reached North America.

Their light, strong and fast ships were unsurpassed in their time and formed the basis of the kingdoms of Denmark, Norway and Sweden.

If “you had not had any ships, you would not have had any Viking Age”, said Sørensen. “It just literally made it possible for them to broaden that kind of horizon to become a more global people.”

While the clinker boat tradition in northern Europe remains to this day, the ships are used by hobbyists, for festivities, regattas and sporting events, rather than looting and conquest seen 1,000 years ago.

The UNESCO nomination was signed by about 200 communities and cultural carriers in the field of construction and traditional clinker boat crafts, including Sami communities.

The inscription on the list of intangible cultural heritage forces the Nordic countries to try to preserve what remains of the dwindling tradition.

“You can not read how to build a boat in a book, so if you want to be a good boat builder, you have to build many boats,” said Nielsen from the Viking Ship Museum. “If you want to keep these skills alive, you have to keep them going.”

    Source: sn.dk

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