Viking longships were designed in a way that allowed the Vikings to explore the world by sea or river. Viking longships were essentially like a very large canoe. They were flat-bottomed, which meant they could sail through very shallow waters, including rivers. It also allowed the ship to land on beaches, which meant the Vikings could jump onto the land quickly and attack, unlike most typical warships which had to anchor hundreds of metres out from the coast.
Longships had a single large, square sail as well as oars. While on board, the Vikings are believed to have fixed their shields to the outside of the ship to protect them from the wind and rain as they rowed.
Viking longships were made from wood, some with elaborately carved designs on the exterior. Viking ships often had creatures’ heads carved as the figurehead at the front of a longship. Dragons or serpents were popular to bring fear.
The Viking longships also had a decent space for passengers and goods on them, which meant that the Vikings could capture livestock and other bulky goods during the raids and then keep them on the longships until they returned to Scandinavia.