:: The Vikings of Bjornstad ::
Viking Ship Terms
Old Norse to English

The Viking Age was marked by ships of Scandinavian design appearing without warning in waters from Byzantium to North America.  The terms in the dictionary below would have been well known to the Norse who sailed those ships.

Old Norse English
akkeri anchor
ak-taug halyard
aktaumr brace
(Continued below the diagrams)

(Used with the kind permission of the Viking Ship Museum, Roskilde)

(Used with the kind permission of Jrn Olav Lset, http://home.online.no/~joeolavl/viking/norse-shipbuilding.htm)


Old Norse English
ss beam, timber; ship
at-laga lay alongside for attack
btr ship's boat
beitiss spar (tacking spar), sailyard
berling ground beam for tent
bite beam
bglna bowline
bor strake, hull plank
byrding ship used for coastal trading
dragreip halyard
eik oak; tree; ship
farmar sailor
fring four-oared boat
femkeiping boat with five or ten rowers plus a helmsman
ferja ship used for fishing and trading
firkeiping boat with four or eight rowers plus a helmsman
fjl? deck planking?
gjalfrmarr ship; steed of the sea
gyringr buntline
habora oar-hole
haf sea (the sea)
hala haul
hals tack
halsa clew up
hseti oarsman
hstokkr? gunwale?
hefill clew line
hjlm tiller
hlunnr and hlummr oar handle
hnekkja? lowering or let out sail
hfubenda shroud
hfr hull
innvir rib
jarnsaumr iron nail
karfi middle-sized cargo and troop ship
keipr boat (small boat), canoe; oarlock
kjǫl-bord garboard strake (attached to the keel)
kjll ship
kjǫlr keel
knattarbarki (nail-)studded ship
knarr cargo ship
kne knee (internal structural support)
knrr (knarrar) cargo ship
langskip warship
leiangr naval forces; ship
liggja lie at anchor
lk-sproti spar for bracing sail
lypting high decked part of stern
nygla drain plug
r-lk sail (vertical leech of sail)
rif reef
rpr gunwhale
r rove (rivet "washer")
rng frame of ship's hull
rm hold or compartment in hold
saumr iron rivet
segl sail
sess rower's seat
seksring six-oared boat
si caulking
siga sink (v)
sigla sail (v)
sigling sailing
siglura yard
siglutr mast
sjr sea
skaut sheet
skeid warship
skip ship, boat
skipflak wreck
skipsbrot shipwreck
skjaut sheet
skor scarf (overlap along the length of the strakes)
skta boat, small ship
snldr beam stanchion
snekke small warship
stag stay
stoeingr brace
strengr rope
stra () steer (v)
stri rudder, helm
strismar steersman
sua (vertical) overlap of strakes
tjaldss? tentpole (debated)
trerring boat with three pairs of oars
trsaumr treenail
ili/ilja deck planking, deck
opta rowing bench, thwart
fr splint, sail pin (later luff)
viu-hs turret
vindss windlass

  • A. Richard Diebold Center for Indo-European Language and Culture, Linguistics Research Center, The University of Texas at Austin, Old Norse Online Base Form Dictionary, Jonathan Slocum and Todd B. Krause, http://www.utexas.edu/cola/depts/lrc/eieol/norol-BF.html
  • E.V. Gordon, An Introduction to Old Norse
  • Ross G. Arthur, English-Old Norse Dictionary, www.yorku.ca/inpar/language/English-Old_Norse.pdf
  • Birthe L. Clausen, ed., Viking Voyages to North America, The Viking Ship Museum in Roskilde, Denmark, 1993
  • Regia Anglorum: Mik Lawson: miklawson@yahoo.co.uk, http://www.mun.ca/mst/heroicage/issues/8/sayers.html
  • The Society for Creative Anachronism: http://www.housebarra.com/EP/ep04/12norsecurse.html
  ©   For information contact Jack Garrett at info@vikingsofbjornstad.com