The Drakkar is a type of longship used by the Vikings. They are also called dragon ships because they typically have a dragon or serpent as a figurehead. Longships gave the Vikings dominant sea power in Europe from around A.D. 800 to 1100; a period called the Viking Age. The Vikings used the Drakkar to transport soldiers to pillage Europe.
The Drakkar is long and narrow with a shallow hull allowing navigation in waters as shallow as 1 meter deep. It was typically made with oak with hull as narrow as one inch thick. The lightweight allowed the ship to be carried on land or used as a shelter on land. The Drakker is highly mobile, double-ended, which allowed the ship to quickly reverse directions without turning around. Drakkars have oars along the length of the ship with benches for the rowers. The ships also have a mast with a cloth sail. The speed of the ships depended on the size of the ship and the number of rows and rowers but ranged from 5-10 knots on average to a top speed of 15 knots.
The most famous longship belonged to the Norwegian King Olav Tryggvason. The ship was called Orman Lange, or Long Serpent, and was 45 meters long with 34 oars and 68 oarsmen. The Orman Lange was the last ship taken in the Battle of Svolder in a coup of Norway. Olav was last seen jumping off the ship in full armor and was presumed to be dead. However, for over 40 years, there were Olav sightings throughout Europe.
Another famous Drakkar belonged to William the Conqueror and was given to him by his wife Matilda. The ship was used to conquer England to make him the first Normand King of England.