How the Early Vikings Voyaged Scandinavia (with an excerpt from Chapter One!)


A gush of salty ocean rushed over the keel of the knarr and an immediate shiver tore me from a dreamless sleep. A small part of me grew concerned for my wet clothes, but as I became aware of my surroundings, I remembered that my clothes hadn’t been dry in days. These weren’t even my clothes. They had taken them, along with everything in my possession before throwing me on this boat, which was now rocking violently back and forth in rhythm with the storm.

The weather had changed so suddenly, much like my circumstances.

Our story opens in the mid 1000s B.C. with our protagonist, Arkin of Kaupangen (KAYP-on-gen), on a journey to Iceland, where he is being sold as a slave in retribution for a mysterious crime with unknown motives.

Being considered cargo, Arkin is put on a knarr, which was designed to carry large amounts of goods, including timber, precious ivory, wool, food, drink, and even livestock. Unlike the more commonly known longships, a knarr (plural knerrir), the hull was deeper, wider, and shorter, and was designed to be operated by less crew members so as to have more room for freight.


Photo credit to Wikimedia

The fastest route from Norway to Iceland was from Kaupangen (today’s Trondheim) to Horn, which is a fjord just east of Höfn (HUH-fn). Under ideal circumstances and with perfect weather, the voyage would only take 3 days, but seeing as how this is the North, with its severe winds, frigid waters, and relentless rain, the trip on average lasted several weeks.


The fastest route to Iceland was from Kaupangen to Horn

With spotty GPS (heh), it would be a miracle if the sea men landed at their intended destination. More often than not, their boat would land miles off course. So they would moor their boat and follow the coastline (sometimes for days!) until they reached the merchant village Höfn.

Arkin and the crew land on the shore facing Vestrahorn (translates to West Horn- whoever said Iceland was a hard language? 🤣), a mountain on the Stokksness peninsula and a few hours walk from Höfn.

Vestrahorn, by Luca Micheli on Unsplash

So what do you think? Is a view like that worth the trip? Probably. . .if you weren’t being sold as a slave. 🙃


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