Sunday, 6 January 2008

Viking Voyage

I watched with interest BBC2's Timewatch programme on the Sea Stallion last night. The close-up view of a longship and how it sails was absolutely fascinating, and there was some nice scenery too, particularly in the Hebrides. There wasn't even that much to quibble about, though it was distressing to hear Maeshowe referred to as 'Stone Age' by the narrator. The 'Viking historian' Louise (the BBC website reveals her surname to be Henriksen) stretched things a bit by saying the graffiti were 'stories' and particularly by claiming they were carved by people who wanted to take over Orkney, implying they were newly-arrived raiders in the Viking Age. I also thought some of the emphasis on the frustrations and the discontent of the crew was forced (especially Dylan's boredom with the test sailings) and I would have liked to hear more about 'Vibeke on the helm'. Near the beginning of the programme we were told that the 'lyfting' was where the skipper, the first and second mate, and the 'helmsman' were. So was Vibeke (a woman!) steering the ship the whole way, or did people take their turns? Did she find steering physically hard (other than when the leather strap broke...) and how independent was she in relation to the skipper? We should have been told. But no doubt there will be a book about it one day.


  1. I only caught the back of this and I was absolutely fascinated. I am wishing the good ol' Beeb also had a +1 channel. There were a number of things I did not get (presumably because I was not tehre from the start), for example: what did they use for the sail?

  2. I'm sure it will be repeated at some time. I think they said the sail was made of linen.