smart_7_11_2_15 - The Secrets of Viking Ships The Secrets...

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The Secrets of Viking Ships © 2013 ReadWorks ® , Inc. All rights reserved. The Secrets of Viking Ships     Today,   the   Vikings   are   mostly   known   as   violent   pirates   and   raiders.   And   it   is   true   that   Vikings   did   raid   and   destroy   many   towns   and   villages   along   coastlines,   all   the   way   from   what   is   now   northern   Russia   to   Morocco.   But   the   Vikings   were   also   traders   and   merchants   and   didn’t   simply   destroy   things.   They   also   built   towns   and   markets   of   their   own,   including   Hedeby,   which   in   the   10th   century   had   a   population   of   1,500,   making   it   the   largest   trading   town   in   Northern   Europe.   At   their   height,   the   Vikings   attacked,   settled   or   traded   on   four   continents.   They   were   active   all   the   way   from   Canada   (they   became   the   first   Europeans   to   travel   to   the   Americas)   to   present   day   Istanbul.      All   of   their   travel,   trade   and   warfare   were   made   possible   by   Viking   ships,   which   were   far   more   advanced   than   anything   else   sailing   around   Europe   at   the   time.   The   most   famous,   and   most   feared,   was   the   drekar ,   or   longship.   At   sea,   these   ships   could   move   quickly   thanks   to   their   large   sails.   The   hulls   of   the   ships   were   shallow   and   fat,   which   made   them   ride   high   in   the   water.   This   meant   they   could   be   driven   right   onto   beaches,   where   the   soldiers   would   jump   over   the   side   to   attack   and   plunder   villages   and   cities.   The   ships   were   also   light   enough   that   they   could   be   carried   from   one   body   of   water   to   another   over   short   sections   of   land   called   portages.   This   greatly   extended   their   range.   Several   such   drekar   ships   were   found   off   the   coast   of   Roskilde,   formerly   the   capital   of   Denmark,  

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