Ships were needed for the voyages
The sea walls, and the Wave-Borne
Bears bright froth o’er the red wood,
Where gapes the Roller’s Brown Ox,
With mouth gold-ornamented.
(The poet Torleif fager writes about the waves,
from Snorri Sturlason’s Skáldskaparmál.)
Ships were necessary for the Vikings’ voyages over the seas. Today they continue to be strong symbols of the age. In the Norse literary sources ships are often referred to with ”kennings”, figures of speech in poetic or epic form. ”Sea-steed ”, ”Wave-horse”, ”Sail-horse” and ”Sea-ski” are some of the most common.
Settlements, trading centres and administrative centres were almost always located near lakes, seas waterways and sailing routes. Making journeys on land was difficult and dangerous, not least in the snow, slush and darkness of winter. Open or frozen water was the natural route of communication. Harbours and docks became important junctions, where people, goods and ideas from near and far came together.