Types of Late Medieval Vessels in Norway

Types of Late Medieval Vessels in Norway

Evidence for the ships in Norway that came after the Vikings is scarcer, and more complex, than for Viking vessels. That isn’t to say that there aren’t archaeological examples.  There are, and comparative studies have been conducted of many of them to determine the characteristics of late medieval vessels in northern Europe.  Three major types of cargo ships would have sailed in Norway’s waters between the 12th and 17thcenturies: Nordic ships, cogs, and hulcs (Crumlin-Pedersen 2000, 230-233).  The ships shared construction features, however, particularly the Nordic ships and cogs during the 12th-13th centuries, and the cogs and hulcs during the 14th-15th centuries.  In some cases they could look so similar that during the 1400’s the same vessel could be called a hulc in one place and a cog in another.

Historical sources can provide context for the archaeological remains and reveal previously unknown information.  This is the case with cogs.  However, N. A. M. Rodger raises an excellent point when he states that while abundant, contemporary historical sources “were mostly the work of chroniclers and administrators who were not familiar with the nautical world, had no incentive to be especially accurate, and were writing in a language (Latin) with a more limited vocabulary than English or French, the dominant written languages among seafarers around the British Isles.  For these reasons, it is often difficult to extract reliable information about the design, construction and handling of ships in peace and war” (Rodger 1999, 62).

 

For more information on cogs and the Hanseatic League, click here.
For more information on nordic style ships, click here.
For more information on hulcs, click here.
For more information about the citations, a short bibliography about Norwegian Seafaring can be downloaded here.