The Sud was the summum of the largest Langskips, a late type for worlwide expeditions.
Langskips (restrospective translation of Latin "navis longa" meaning "long ship") were elongated, fast and narrow war ships used by the Scandinavian peoples from the very beginning of antiquity ( Hjortspring boat (400-300 BC)). The larger ones were classified as Snekkars, of which the Skeid and Busse (Bússa) were well-known types. Among the most famous of the ancient texts, the Ormen lange (long serpent), Busse of Olaf Tryggvason (King of Norway in 995-1000) was renowned with its 45 meters length and 68 rowers divided into two series of 34 row banks . It was also known as high as a Knarr, characteristic of heay duty Busses. There was no doubt that these large fully decked ships had enough space for horses in their cavernous holds and large space for workshops, forges and all what necessary for long expeditions. The illustration vessel, a large Sud, is an example of the largest Langskips ever built. Built in old Oak, with a crew of more than 170 men (including 154 rowers, mostly divided into double rows on a double set of 20 alternate oars), was equipped with grappling hooks and four anchors. The oars were so heavy that they were maneuvered by two men each. This ship was about 50 meters long by 10 meters wide, which was still possible with the building techniques of the time used for Knarrs . The Gokstad and Skuldelev ships, stronger than the Oseberg, were reconstructions of these great Langskips, the 24-meter-long Gaia and above all the Skuldelev 2, over 30 meters long as described by the Sagas, and restored by the Roskilde Museum team. The Sud was even more impressive.
But the Busse had between 40 and 70 rowers and a much lower freeboard but the Sud (Súð) described by Sagas had about 300 men on board. Such a figure indicates that they had to have about 70 oars with swim, which gives in analogy of 80 meters, which seems incompatible with techniques of construction of the time... We know however that at least two ships corresponded to this late typology well after Viking invasions era, in the thirteenth century, such a the Mariasuden and the Kristsuden (1262). The latter, built by King Haakon Hakonsson, had 37 oars on each side, 74 in all, probably 148 rowers. The double, or even triple (220 rowers) double swim was induced by the length of the oars. Reported to the rest of the maneuver crew and to any additional embarked warriors, these Langskips could actually approach the 300 men. In any case, the largest Sud Kristsuden was described as having 37 sections, ca 52m according to the old measurement systems: Keel and lots were 74 so about 40.7m, but with the addition of the Stem, stern, bulkhead and decorative elements; ca 11.3 m more. The ships with 40 sections were 57m long.
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