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The name of the old Norse merchant ship at the time of the Vikings. It was modelled on the traditional longship, with one mast and a single square sail set on a yard. When working to windward a beitass was fitted to hold the luff of the sail taut. By the second half of the 9th century it could ‘carry thirty people, together with their cattle, fodder, goods and furniture, west to Iceland or south Britain’ and might have ‘short half-decks at bow and stern and a fully-integrated keel, but was never, so far as we are aware, provided with cabins’ (R. Hope, A New History of British Shipping (1990), 28).

Subjects: Maritime History.

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