Tag Archives: viking

How Viking, French and Dutch cultural influences shaped fishing vessels of the British Isles


Mike Smylie influences on fishing boats map

I spotted this fascinating map drawn by Kipperman Mike Smylie on his stall at the Nordhorn Fest der Kanäle this weekend and wanted to share it – it’s here with Mike’s permission. It shows how Viking, French and Dutch influences turn up in traditional fishing vessels.

The slightly fuzzy snap was taken with my phone but it’s worth a good long look – some of it will be fairly obvious, but there are some surprises, such as the French influence on the north-west coast of Ireland that I have somehow missed in the past. I should spend a little time reading up on Irish traditional craft…

See our post on Mike’s latest publication on herrings, the herring trade and of course how to eat them…

 

Faroese rowers racing on BBC Television

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Faroese rowersFaroese rowers working hard

The past few weeks have been an amazing time for interesting boats on BBC Television – and the latest sighting, racing Faroese rowing boats on an episode in the Coast series, is available on the BBC iPlayer.

I can hardly believe I’ve beaten the usually alert Chris Partridge of Rowing for Pleasure to posting about this, but the programme shows the interesting and elegant boats in action and includes an interview with a group of attractive if powerfully developed Faroese women rowers. It’s noticeable that their English is excellent – and we’re told that they learn the language using the Internet.

Way up north of Scotland, Orkney and even Shetland, the Faroes are remote but these days far from isolated, as the presenter points out.

Like their tall, blonde rowers, the Faroese craft are clearly the result of the Viking era, and even the modern fishing boats in the harbour show a close kinship to Viking ships.

Click here for a photo of a Faroese women’s rowing team taking part in a race.

Click here for a Flickr gallery of Faroese boats.

Click here for still more photos of Faroese boats on the Wikimedia Commons.

800px-Fuglafjordur_fishing_boats,_Faroe_Islands

Modern motorised Faroes boats still show their evolution from Viking ships: taken from the Wikimedia

A traditional Hebridean lugger built by Harris boatbuilder John Macaulay

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Macaulay 6

Macaulay 2 Macaulay 5 Macaulay 1

Macaulay 3 Macaulay 4

One of the treats of the Beale Park Thames Boat Show was seeing one of John Macaulay’s traditional Hebridean skiffs full of old-fashioned boatbuilding features.

Note the short floors and ribs, for example – they’re very much what one sees in a Viking ship or Viking canoe. What’s more, the oarlocks and oars obviously belong to a time before the fashion for adopting rowing racing practice brought in round oars in round oarlocks capable of being rotated.

For an earlier post on Macaulay, click here.

This interesting article sheds light on the man himself: John Mcaulay Boatbuilder. Of the virtues of wooden boats he says: ‘There is only one boat worth having and that is a wooden boat. They are unique; one off and beautiful. How anyone with any sensitivity could choose a plastic hull over a wooden one made by hand, I will never know.’

Here’s another newspaper piece in the Stornaway Gazette describing the restoration of a Western Isles boat.

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