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A longship was the primary method of transportation for the Norse people. A typical longship was 18-24 metres long and only 4-6 metres wide, with a single square sail and banks of oars for motive power. Their long length and shallow draft, about a metre, allowed them to sail at great speed and in extremely shallow water.

Longships had a distinctive high prow, often carved in the form of a dragon's head, which gave them the alternate dragon ship.

However, the longship was not used just by the Norse, Viking pirates, as their Baltic neighbours, the Curonians had a similar style boat with square sails, oars, and carved prow.

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