I presented it as a technological marvel ahead of its time which inspires its new owners to modify their existing ships to carry false keels and masts to make them seaworthy enough to sail to Britain.Such bending of the facts is the historical fiction writer’s prerogative.The boats of the migration era (which Hengest and Horsa would have used to get to Britain) were markedly different to the more famous Viking longships seen in tons of pop-culture references from Asterix to Conan. A Viking ship without its colourful striped sail simply isn’t a Viking ship. When you think about it, the Viking age happened for a reason.The main difference is – and this is a matter of debate amongst historians – that they may or may not have had masts and sails. Scandinavians were travelling to Britain as early as the fifth century and yet the Viking age is generally considered to have begun in the eighth century with a sudden boom in Scandinavian raiding, trading and settling.They seemed to have been rowing boats with no sails. At just over 20 meters it has 15 pairs of oars, a proper ‘T-shaped’ keel and a mast which would have supported a large square sail. It’s also possible that these examples were just river barges and were preferred for burials and sacrifices as the ocean-going sailing vessels of the day were far too valuable to bury or submerge in a bog. If the Anglo Saxons migrated to Britain in any considerable number (and the jury is out on that one too), ships with sails require less men to crew them, therefore leaving more room for families, livestock and equipment.The first true ‘Viking’ ship is generally considered to be the Oseberg ship found in Norway dating to about 800 A. In short, migrants would have much more use for ships with sails.It is true, however, that objects of fine metalwork have excited the greatest interest, encouraged by spectacular finds from early sites such as Sutton Hoo and of hoards such as that from Trewhiddle, Cornwall (see Specific Sites).More recently, the 7th-century “Staffordshire hoard,” with its collection of gold and jeweled fragments, many from weapons and armor, has reinforced interest in the spectacular and also in the emphasis on the early period.
Nydam was once a bog in southern Denmark (now it’s a meadow) which has yielded many artefacts over the years like swords, shields and boats that were ritually ‘sacrificed’ centuries ago and preserved by the bog’s high peat content.
Interest in the design and structure of objects of metalwork of the pre-Conquest period can already be seen in the pioneering work of Brian Faussett between 17, exemplified in his detailed drawings and notes on, for example, the Kingston Down brooch in his surviving notebooks, published long after his death (Charles Roach Smith, Inventorium Sepulchrale, an Account of Some Antiquities Dug Up at Gilton, Kingston, Sibertswold, Barfriston, Beakesbourne, Chartham, and Crundale, in the County of Kent, from 1757 to 1773, London: privately printed, 1856).
Although Faussett did not recognize his excavated material as Anglo-Saxon, thinking that he was investigating Romano-British graves, nevertheless his work (especially in his detailed recording of all finds, and therefore all metalwork objects, including toilet implements, weapons, and tools, as well as the gold jewelry) is in many ways a true starting point for two trends still working themselves out in the literature: the refining of work defining styles and dating the material, and the study of the full range of metalwork and its associated crafts.
, I made the erroneous assumption that the Anglo Saxons merely sailed about in Viking ships.
Upon doing a little research, I discovered that, like a lot of things concerning the Anglo Saxons, they did it slightly differently to their Scandinavian cousins of later centuries.
The best overviews published since the late 1990s are those contained within two encyclopedias.