Draken Harald Hårfagre: A Viking Ship at Mystic Seaport

A transatlantic journey from Norway to Mystic Seaport aboard a Viking longship is no small feat. Built based upon Norwegian boatbuilding traditions, the Draken Harald Hårfagre is the world’s largest Viking ship sailing in modern times. A crew of 32 sailed the longship across the North Atlantic to her current docking at the Museum.

The history of Vikings is one of exploration, adventure, and epic deeds. Nothing reflects this better than the captivating tales known as the Norse Sagas.

From the creation of the world to the final battle of Ragnarök, the Norse Sagas are a rich mythology that catalog pivotal events of the Norse gods and the world itself. And with such a rich seafaring tradition, it’s no surprise that ships factor into several of those sagas.

Hringhorni  was a ship that played a key role in the funeral of the god Baldr. The greatest of all ships, it was so large that a giant was needed to help push it into the water. Skíðblaðnir was a magic ship and could be folded up to fit in one’s pocket when not in use.

Ships even have a role at the end of the world, according to the Norse Sagas. That’s when Naglfar, a particularly creepy ship made entirely from the fingernails and toenails of the dead, will ferry warriors to fight with the gods. Seafaring isn’t just a major part of Norse culture, it’s present until the end of time.

Draken Harald Hårfagre may have been built too late to make it into the Norse Sagas, but its trip across the Atlantic – visiting Iceland and Greenland, and touring the Great Lakes and Erie Canal on its journey – is certainly the stuff of legend.