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What were the inventions of the vikings?

Updated April 17, 2017

The Vikings, who dominated Europe between the years 800 and 1100AD, are infamous for their violent sieges all throughout medieval Europe. Vikings came from Scandinavia, which has since been broken up into three countries now known as Denmark, Norway and Sweden. Although these people were known mainly for their pillaging and warfare, Vikings are to thank for many inventions that helped push medieval Europe forward in technology.

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The dragon-headed longship, also known as the dreker, is the invention the Vikings had to thank for their domination over medieval warfare, trade and politics. These ships were stealthy, speedy vessels that carried Viking troops. The dreker could travel through open oceans under a sail and quickly switch to being powered by oars for quick hit-and-run attacks on undefended towns. Most of Viking wealth was acquired through pillaging in this manner. According to the NOVA website, the Viking expertise of naval craftsmanship eventually led to the invention of the knarr, which was similar to the dreker, but was higher and wider with fewer oars. The knarr was used to carry cargo to far-off destinations for trade.


The earliest discovered hair combs date back to the 9th century and were found in Scandinavia, according to Danr Bjornson. Viking combs were usually made of antlers taken from red deer because of their strength, but sometimes combs were made of animal bone or wood. These first versions of the hair comb were made by craftsmen who specialised in the making of combs, and according to Danr Bjornson, the similarities of the artistic style and manufacturing of many combs found across Scandinavia indicate that many of these craftsmen travelled across Scandinavia to sell their craft.

Magnetic Compass

According to the Jefferson Lab, Greeks were the first people to discover magnetite, which is what is used to make magnets. The Vikings used the natural magnetite deposits in Scandinavia to make the first magnetic compasses. These tools were especially useful for crossing oceans to reach the New World as well as invading England whenever the Vikings wanted. These magnetic compasses made it possible to travel through fog and other weather conditions that would normally make sailing impossible. The Vikings kept this invention a heavily guarded secret from the rest of Europe, which gave them a huge advantage. Nowadays, magnetic compasses are used on every ship to navigate, according to Jefferson Lab.

Warp-Weighted Loom

The loom had been around long before Vikings showed up in Scandinavia, but advances were made to the loom during the Middle Ages. There were several types of looms being used throughout Europe, but the warp-weighted loom invented by Vikings is one of the most widely known versions, according to the Purple Lotus organisation. The warp-weighted loom was a vertical loom made up of a set of upright wooden beams and an upper beam that held the woven cloth. This loom was used to make fabric for hoods, tunics and everyday Viking clothing.

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About the Author

Nikole Yearout started writing in 2003. She writes for various websites, covering everything from marine biology to online programming and book publishing. Yearout is pursuing a Bachelor of Arts in creative writing from Washington State University.

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