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UNESCO puts Viking wooden sailing ships on the heritage list

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By James Brooks | Related press

ROSKILDE, Denmark – For thousands of years, wooden sailing ships have allowed the peoples of Northern Europe to spread commerce, influence, and sometimes war across seas and continents.

In December, the United Nations cultural agency added the Nordic “clinker boat” to its list of traditions representing the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity. Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway and Sweden jointly seek the UNESCO designation.

The term “clinker” is said to refer to the way the wooden panels of the boat were fastened together.

Supporters of the successful nomination hope it will preserve and preserve the boat-building techniques that fueled the Viking era for future generations as the number of active clinker craftsmen dwindles and fishermen and Others choose ships with cheaper fiberglass hulls.

Søren Nielsen, head of the boatyard at the Viking Ship Museum in Roskilde, said: “We can see that the skill in building them, the skill in rowing, the knowledge of the people who are sailing…. west of Copenhagen.

The museum not only displays the remains of wooden ships built 1,000 years ago, but also restores and recreates other Viking ships. The process involved the use of experimental archeological methods to gain a deeper, more realistic understanding of the Viking Age, such as the speed of ships and the number of people they carried.

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

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

The clinker wooden boat is characterized by the use of overlapping longitudinal wooden hull planks that are sewn or riveted together.

The builders reinforced the interior of the boat with wooden additions, mainly tall oaks, that made up the ship’s frame. They fill the spaces in between with tar or tallow mixed with animal hair, wool, and moss.

Triona Sørensen, curator at Roskilde’s Viking Ship Museum, explains: “When you build it with overlapping layers inside it, you get a hull that is quite flexible but at the same time, incredibly strong. “. Century Viking boat was built by clinker method.

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

But according to Sørensen, it was during the Viking Age that the clinker boats reached their peak. The era, from 793 to 1066, was when the Norsemen, or Vikings, carried out raids, colonization, conquest, and large-scale trade across Europe. They also made it to North America.

Their light, strong and agile ships were superior for their time and provided the foundation for kingdoms in Denmark, Norway, and Sweden.

“If you don’t have any ships, you won’t have any Viking ages,” Sørensen said. “It just helps them to be able to broaden that horizon to become more literally a global person.”

While the Nordic clinker boat tradition remains to this day, the ships are used by hobbyists, for festivals, sailing and sporting events, rather than raiding and conquering seen 1,000 years ago.

The UNESCO nomination was signed off by some 200 communities and cultural bearers in the field of traditional clinker boat construction and craft, including the Sami communities.

https://www.mercurynews.com/2022/01/23/unesco-lists-viking-era-wooden-sailboats-on-heritage-list-19/ UNESCO puts Viking wooden sailing ships on the heritage list

Huynh Nguyen

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