Mark Neumayer

author of the Valda & the Valkyries series

Three Famous Ships From the Norse Myths

Today we have a bit of a continuation from last week when I posted some artwork of the figurehead of a drekar or dragon-boat. There aren’t that many named ships in the Eddas, but these three are pretty memorable.

Skidbladnir
We are going to start with this ship because the Elder Eddas tell us it is… “without doubt the best and most artfully constructed of any (ship.)” The ship belongs to the god Frey and was constructed by the sons of Ivaldi – the Dwarven master craftsmen who also created Odin’s spear Gungnir and the golden hair of Sif. The ship is quite large and has enough room to hold all of the Aesir gods and goddesses and their weapons and war supplies as well. As soon as the sail is raised a favorable breeze springs up and leads the ship wherever you wish to go. To top it all off, the ship is so artfully constructed and so many cunning spells were used in her construction that you can actually fold the ship up like a piece of cloth until it is small enough to fit into your pocket.

Naglfar
When Ragnarok, the doom of the gods comes around, the ship Naglfar will finally be ready to set sail. When we were told that Skidbladnir was the best ship we were also informed that Naglfar was the biggest. The creepiest thing about Naglfar is that it is not made of wood, rather it is being built from the toenails and fingernails of all who have died. In Gylfaginning we are told to take great care not to die with untrimmed nails, for the longer your nails are the sooner the ship will be done. Loki is fated to be the helmsman on that dark day, using the ship to bring the enemies of the gods to the scene of the battle between good and evil.

Hringhorn
This was the ship of Balder. Sadly we only read about it at his funereal. At that time we are told it “passed for the largest in the world.” Now we had been told that Naglfar was biggest. Maybe the discrenpancy has something to do with the fact that Naglfar is still under construction. Hringhorn is so big that the gods can not push it out to sea and have to send for a giantess to push the ship for them.

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