How Much Does It Cost To Build A Viking Longship?


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If you’ve ever wondered ‘how much does it cost to build a Viking longship’ you’re in the right place.

Building a Viking longship isn’t something you decide to do on a whim.

It’s an endeavor that combines history craftsmanship and quite a bit of financial investment.

While it may seem like a lofty goal it’s a venture that has been undertaken by many history enthusiasts around the world.

But how does one even begin to estimate the cost of such a feat?

How Much Does It Cost To Build A Viking Longship

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Viking Longship Construction Cost

When it comes to constructing a Viking longship historians estimate that it took up to 40000 hours of work. This labor-intensive process requiring skilled workers and suitable materials drived the cost up considerably.

In terms of calendar time it could take 4 to 6 months to complete a longship with a dedicated construction crew.

The necessary expenses extended beyond labor as materials such as oak and pine wood iron nails for the clinker-built overlapping planks and the woolen sail were all part of the process. According to estimates the cost of building a Viking longship might have amounted to as much as 4000 cows.

Factors Impacting Longship Building Expenses

The number of skilled workers involved and their productivity were important factors contributing to the overall cost. A large crew like a hand full of warriors dedicating approximately 11 hours per week for 9 months could considerably speed up the construction time and thus potentially decrease the overall cost.

Another crucial aspect impacting the cost was the availability of materials. Building a longship required finding suitable oak trees splitting the trunks and shaping the components with axes.

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This inherently added to the cost. Nicholas Hardy a naval architect claims that constructing a longship was a significant investment even for a Scandinavian warlord.

Assessing Material and Labor Costs

Building a Viking longship was no small task. Estimates suggest that it took up to 40000 hours of work to construct one.

This involved a significant cost in both material and labor. The main material was oak timber which had to be carefully selected cut down and shaped into the design of the longship.

  • Choosing suitable oak trees for the hull was a critical first step.
  • These trees were then split and shaped into a hull using axes.
  • The clinker-built hull was constructed out of overlapping oak planks and held together by iron nails. This made the longship both sturdy and agile.
  • The longship were also fitted with oars and a woolen sail adding to the material costs.

The labor cost associated with this intricate process was substantial. Based on estimates it would take up to a year’s surplus production of 100 persons or a crew of 100 warriors working 11 hours a week for about 9 months to build a longship.

Budgeting For Special Features And Amenities

In addition to the basic structure of the longship there could have been many other expenses that added to the overall cost of the project. These could have been special features such as storage spaces steering oars.

or fighting platforms that required additional materials and labor.

  • The longship had limited storage space meaning that crew often had to use sea chests for their personal items and supplies.
  • They also featured a steering oar and large sails allowing them the versatility to sail or row effectively across different water terrains.
  • Additionally many longships would be equipped with fighting platforms adding an extra element of complexity to the design and construction process.
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While estimating the cost of building a Viking longship in terms of modern currency is challenging historians compare that it would be as much as 4000 cows. Today’s equivalents of these costs can be compared with constructing a Viking cruise ship which ranges from $200 million to $1 billion or more.

Estimating Total Viking Longship Cost

Estimating the cost of building a Viking longship during the Middle Ages can be quite tricky. Based on historians’ estimates the construction might have required up to 40000 hours of work.

Translating this into modern terms is quite difficult given the differences in labor rates and skills.

However a traditional somewhat quirky estimation for the cost of building a longship was around 4000 cows. This comparison underscores the magnitude of the investment considering the importance and value of livestock in that era.

Oak and pine wood were the principal materials used in the construction of these vessels. Countless trees had to be cut down and timber had to be split and sawn manually to construct these majestic vessels.

Undoubtedly given the size of these ships this task required a significant amount of skilled labor and careful coordination.

The building of a longship was a massive investment one that required months of work surplus production from local communities and the efforts of skilled workers often led by a naval architect. Calculations suggest 100 warriors working 11 hours a week for 9 months or a construction crew of around 35 working for 4 months straight would be needed to construct a longship.

Today the cost of building a Viking cruise ship can range from $200 million to $1.8 billion depending on the size amenities and compliance with international safety standards. The Viking Star estimated to cost $2 billion is filled with state-of-the-art entertainment systems ‘green’ roofs and utilizes advanced waste management technology.

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Building a cruise ship like this in China considered one of the traditional shipbuilding countries could be cheaper by up to 50%.

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