Sunday, January 16, 2011

Hulks from the Utrecht Psalter - early ninth century

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By the end of the seventh century and the first of the eighth century the "Hulk" had come in use and was considered a reliable small cargo vessel in use along the Low Countries. It owed much to previous Celtic ship design and, the strongly built hull had the shape of half an egg shell or perhaps like a hollowed out banana. It had no keel and used a single sail for propulsion. The center plank of the ship was very broad and made from a single log. Wooden pins held the two planks on either side of the keel in place. In order to provide a more secure leakproof hull two nearly half-round planks were added over each of the seams between the center plank and the two side planks. Two side rudders gave it control as seen in the above pictures. It was particularly suitable for beaching on the sandy shores of the Low Countries where it was primarily in use. An estimate of the ships cargo capacity was approximately twenty-three tons. It was probably decked over and most likely was used mostly for river use and use in the North Sea. It could navigate the tidal estuaries of the Low Countries and England reaching the existing trading ports of the period. By A. D. 750 it had gone through several design changes and was established as a reliable cargo carrier used by the Frisian Traders in their forays to England.

These drawings and the ones following are taken from a ninth century psalter. They are "Hulks" which is an early A Psalter is a book of psalms, or a book containing psalms, which was profusely illustrated and was used in the services of the Byzantine Monastic Catholic Church.


Unger, "The Ship In the Medieval Economy," (London - 1980);

Lewis and Runyan, "European and Naval Maritime History," (Bloomington -- 1895);

"Webster's New Collegiate Dictionary," (Springfield -- 1956).

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