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Textual evidence for spilling lines in the rigging of medieval Scandinavian keels

Textual evidence for spilling lines in the rigging of medieval Scandinavian keels

Sayers, William (Cornell University Library, Ithaca, New York)

The International Journal of Nautical Archaeology (1999)

Abstract

Sail trimming and standing and running rigging on Viking-era craft are elucidated by references in 12th- and early 13th- century Anglo-Norman historical sources and an Icelandic lexical catalogue. It is postulated that Early Medieval ships in Scandinavia and later adaptations in Normandy and Ireland were equipped with spilling lines as a means of emptying the sail.

The Bayeux Tapestry, depicting the Norman invasion of England, seems both to complement and to contradict the testimony of the Gotland picture stones on several points of detail concerning early Scandinavian ship construction and seafaring that have left little trace in the archaeological record, in particular, sail handliiag,tll Both iconographical sources predate the first vernacular descriptions of sailing in the North that are found in such Old Norse-Icelandic texts as the kings’ sagas and the sagas of the Icelanders, the oldest of which may have been composed in the early 13th century.

Click here to read this article from The International Journal of Nautical Archaeology


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