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Medieval long-ship by bolin - 1:30 - based on reconstruction Helga Holm - Finished

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Yes Åland has a long maritime history. I remember visiting Mariehamn (the main town) when I was a kid and being very fascinated by the four masted barque Pommern, which is a museum ship in the harbor.  Maybe that, or some other ship from the region, will be a future subject for a model...


The try outs with ballast was done in the late 80's, well before I started to sail with the reconstruction. I cannot say how much change it made to the stability. What I can say is that as we now sail you need to be very alert. The sheet cannot be belayed, but most be held in hand by a crew member. Maybe you can allow a turn around a bollard, but never leave it unattended. If a powerful gust of wind comes at the wrong time you need to be able to release and let the wind out of the sail within seconds. When the wind is strong this is tiring and requires a strong grip. (Not so in the image below, a very nice day for sailing)




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Thanks Silverman


I have started to work on the keelson. Only a small 1.45 m fragment is preserved in the find, so the reconstruction used comparative material from other sites, for example the viking ships from Skuldelev in Denmark.


The reconstruction work came to the conclusion that the keelson was made from several parts. There is no indication of how long, but the ship builder advised to make it quite long to improve the lengthwise strength. Now it goes all the way between the third and fifteenth frame.


The hole in the preserved piece shows that the keelson was fastened to the frames using tree nails. An alternative method is shown in the Incredible Hulc by @woodrat. According to the reconstruction report, the tree nail method was more common during the medieval times and in the Baltic, than the side support methods which was more "west-scandinavian".


On 3/24/2021 at 2:47 PM, woodrat said:



At the moment I'm building the keelson from strip wood, but am tempted to use a piece of natural wood as woodrat has done.



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The keelson of walnut turned out well, so I proceeded as planned.


Note the peg and the wear on the underside of the keelson.


The groves are from the halyard which is led under the keelson and belayed with support of the peg. Every time the yard is raised or lowered the rope eats away at the wood.



I have also installed the first cross beam and tested the mast in place.



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Hi Hakan


The rivets have been very successful. Does the lump on the top of the keelson have any function apart from being the middle bearing of the floor beam? I could see something similar in Woodrats build.


Also, it's surprising just how quickly the halyards wear the keel away, I wonder what they did when it was really wearing out - whether they replaced a large piece of keel or added a sacrificial piece.

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My name is actually not Håkan, it’s Tobias 😁 You must be confusing me with wintergreen, who’s name is Håkan.


The branch extension on top of the keelson is common in finds from Viking age and medieval times. It think it provides a kind of stop for the mast when you raise it onboard. On the reconstruction we use a mast crane to raise the mast, so I’m not sure how the exact process would look like.

I guess that either adding a sacrificial piece, or replacing a part of the keelson are both possible. The latter being much harder. It has taken 35 years to wear down the groves. Even if considering that the reconstruction hasn’t sailed as much as the original, I think that it’s unlikely that wear would eat through the keelson before the service life of the ship had reached its end.

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I came to think on another reason why the original ship might not have needed to worry about replacing the keelson due to wear from the halyard. On the reconstruction we are not using natural hemp fibers. Instead we us rope of hemp imitation, probably of polyester. This material is probably much harder than real hempen rope and cause much more wear on the wood.

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About raising and lowering the mast. My understanding is that it was done like the midsummers pole, put the lower end towards the stop and then walk under it successively raising it. Like in this picture. It's the same procedure described for my 19th century boat as well.


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Before I continue with the rest of the cross beams I thought that it would be time to prepare the floor boards. There is no evidence for these in the find; they floated away, or they never existed, who knows. They where not part of the reconstruction drawings either. Remember that the original assumptions was to have ballast, and then they would have been constructed differently. I base my model on how the floor boards currently look on the reconstruction.

First I created cardboard templates.


Then I cut longer planks and built several at a time.


Now all the floor boards are fitted:



Note the space between the frames where the halyard is belayed, no floor there. It is also the area used for bailing the ship, so a floor would be in the way. (Note that the floor is not used to walk on, its for keeping the cargo out of the bilge water.) You walk on the rower seats, see the little girl in the film here:

On 10/12/2020 at 9:49 PM, bolin said:

I realized that I need to print a few more copies of the plans to use as templates when cutting wood for the stem, stern and keel. In the meantime I can treat you with a short film made this summer from sailing the reconstruction.






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I have proceeded with gluing the cross beams in place. The cross beam are straight, and have a support that sits above the keelson. The cross beams are not well preserved in the find, so the reconstruction made some assumptions. No remains of the support exist, but holes exist which indicate that they would have existed.


I have deviated from the find and the reconstruction in one major way. The cross beams will have knees that go up on the planks as support. In reality one of the knees should be from naturally grown wood (i.e. a branch), while the opposite end has a loose knee nailed to the cross beam. The naturally grown knee should be installed alternately on port and starboard. I have made the simplification to make both knees loose parts.



The supports are tapered in both ends. In this i follow the boat builder that built the reconstruction. This detail is not documented in reconstruction report, but I think it looks nice.


Tapering in simplest possible way by sticking a tooth pick into my Proxxon rotary tool and tapering against a sand paper.



The finished result:






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Hi Mark, there are no remains of any floor boards or similar that could have been used to protect from ballast. However, that could not be interpreted as there was none. The find was not complete and damaged in many places. Any loose boards would likely have floated away, or recovered when she sank in the harbor.


The archeologists doing the reconstruction was apparently pretty convinced that ballast was needed, their question seem to have been "how much". It was only after practical experience of about two seasons of sailing with ballast that it was abandoned. I don't know if the reconstruction used any additional protection then.



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Since last update I have worked on the knees for the cross beams and the lower stringer on the inside.


The knees are quite small and hard to hold, so I created a jig for shaping them all to the same form.


I installed the stringer first, and fitted the knees after. In the real boat the knees has a wedge shaped "tongue" sticking up under the stringer and the stringer has a cut-out for each knee. This helps holding the knees in place, but is not visible to I skipped that detail.



All knees installed. The next step will be to tree nail the knees to the plank.



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A small update. Three overlaying cross beams has been added, as well as a a second stringer and extra long knees ending in bollards.



It's not so much more now until I can start with the rigging. Basically only the oarlocks, the decks in fore and aft and the rowing benches.



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Thanks all for the appreciation.


Now it looks even more busy when I have added the thwarts and adjusted the floor boards so that they have cutouts for the cross beam supports.


The thwarts are just loose boards riding on the lower stringer. There was no indications in the find of how the thwarts where constructed or attached. Initially it was speculated that the rowers sat on the cross beams. However very simple test showed that the rowers would then sit too low and not be able to put any force into the strokes. The solution was to use loose boards, but with a pair of pins in each end that prevents them from moving back or forth. To get sufficient strength in the boards they are almost 5 cm thick, but to give a visual appearance of thinner dimensions the front and back edges are beveled on the underside.




The picture above also shows that the floor boards will be riveted.


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Today I mounted the last piece on the hull, the strip that will become the oarlocks. It is only roughly shaped before installed. The final shaping will continue when I have plugged it firmly with tree nails. They should be made in individual pieces, one for each oarlock. But I will skip this, and only indicate the joints between them.



The shape to aim for is this:



I have also finished the last footlings, and have added decks in the fore and aft. Here are some pictures before I put stain on the new parts.


The footling under the fore deck.


The fore deck. It is separated in two levels, otherwise the incline would have been to steep. There are no remains left of the decks in the archeological find, so the reconstruction work came up with a plausible construction. This is what I have included in my model.


The mid section and aft deck (with rudder).


And a last picture with the oars, mast and yard onboard.







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On 4/25/2021 at 9:48 PM, Wintergreen said:

It resembles these big canoes you sometimes see, with like 16 native people in them. 

Yes it is easy to see how the long ships evolved from paddling, to rowing to sailing. This ship maybe represents a bit of a hybrid. The hull shape is long and narrow, like a ship for rowing. But the ends of the ship does not have place for rowers. For optimal speed more rowers would be needed. 

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I have started to research a bit about what anchor that would be suitable. I cam across this excellent master thesis providing a typological description of anchors in Northern Europe 750 - 1300. Slightly before the time of the model, but close enough.


The conclusion seem to be rather straight forward, anchors by the late middle ages had found their form. That is "Curved arms; large, triangular flukes welded onto arms; both wooden, fastened stocks and iron stocks running through shank; several metres long."


One difference compared to later anchors seem to have been rings at both ends of the shank. See the picture below from the Luttrell psalter, dated at about 1325 to 1335. This anchor does not have a stock though.


I have not decided on material for the anchor yet. Copper, wood, plastic, I have several options.

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Posted (edited)

Here are some examples which might help. The dates are either side of the date you're after, so you should be able to get some idea of what was likely in the period you're interested in. 


     image.png.751cb62aa86a28b0afabca5cc7c90ac0.png     image.png.f97a87c1a78e59ca4bed45bc33c9b0af.png 


        1403 Boccaccio-Maitre des Cleres Femmes du Duc de Berry            Expedition to Canary Islands 1420-30




      Seal of San Sebastian 1297                                                                                          Bayonne cathedral 14th century





Bodleian Library MS. Bodl. 764 f.74v 1226-1250 





          Bodleian Library MS. Bodl. 764 f.107r 1226-1250                                         BL Egerton MS 3028  f. 81. 1338-1340


image.png.594430873e63264ef8057e582715be03.png     image.png.3926ed9337a68155180d91adda03863c.png     


San Eustorgio, Milan. 1336 to 1339                                                                 Fresco, Skamstrup church, late 14th century.


image.png.238f6568d83efb48e491edc99ab40dfd.png    image.png.83a383941713ba2bd161d65f1dbb0054.png



St Thomas Becket Pilgrim badge 1360-1400                                 San Pietro in Ciel d'Oro, Pavia. 12th century


I hope that helps,





Edited by Louie da fly
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Happy to be of help, Bolin. Some of the anchors are from the Mediterranean and should be regarded with caution, but others are much more appropriate. It seems to me that anchors with the ring next to the flukes co-existed with anchors without them.


I've made anchors from brass and also from wood. I think it comes down to what you're most comfortable with.



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Yesterday we went out to the reconstruction to put her into the water after the winter storage on land. This is what we where met by:


Last year we discovered some rotten planks in such a bad shape that we could not dare to sail at all. We had contracted these ship builders to make the basic renovation needed to keep her afloat. Unfortunately they had been delayed at another job, and where not finished at the scheduled day. A few rushed hours later we managed to get her into water:



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  • mtaylor changed the title to Medieval long-ship by bolin - 1:30 - based on reconstruction Helga Holm - Finished

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