Hjortspring boat

The reconstructed remains of the Hjortspring boat at the National Museum of Denmark in Copenhagen.
Sketch with correct scaling and angles of the Danish 'Hjortspring boat' from 400-300 BC, built more than 1400 years before the first Viking ships appeared in Scandinavia.
Images of petroglyphs
Petroglyphs of boats from the Nordic Bronze Age in Scandinavia.

The Hjortspring boat is a vessel designed as a large canoe, from the Scandinavian Pre-Roman Iron Age, that was excavated in 1921–1922 from the bog known as Hjortspring Mose on the island of Als in Sønderjylland, southern Denmark.[1] The vessel was a clinker-built wooden boat of 18 m length (length overall), 13 m long inside and 2 m wide with space for a crew of some 20 who propelled the boat with paddles. It was built around 400-300 BC.[2]

The boat is the oldest find of a wooden plank ship in Scandinavia and its closest parallels are the thousands of petroglyph images of Nordic Bronze Age ships. When found, it contained a great quantity of weapons and armour, including 131 shields of the Celtic type, 33 beautifully crafted shieldbosses, 138 spearheads of iron, 10 iron swords, and the remains of several mailcoats. The sinking of the vessel has therefore been interpreted as a deliberate votive offering.[3]

The strange design of the stern and bow has not yet been explained. The parts sticking out connected with a vertical stick do not seem to have had any function for the vessel's stability.


  1. Nationalmuseet (Denmark); Thorkild Ramskou (1965). Danmarks oldtid. p. 43. Retrieved 2 July 2013.
  2. Pauline Asingh (2009). Grauballemanden. Gyldendal A/S. pp. 195–. ISBN 978-87-02-05688-4. Retrieved 2 July 2013.
  3. Thomas Dickson (2009). Dansk design. Gyldendal A/S. pp. 31–. ISBN 978-87-02-07768-1. Retrieved 2 July 2013.

Further reading

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