The first sailors braved the North Sea and the Baltic in open wooden boats: their aims were varied - to fish, to trade, to conquer and plunder. Without maps or compasses, they steered by the sun or by sightings of the shore. Nevertheless, they discovered Iceland and America and explored the rivers to the east of the Black Sea. With the Frisians and the Vikings, extensive trade routes, better ships, larger harbours and wealthy coastal towns developed. The pinnacle of these advances was the Hanse, a commercial network that ran from Bruges to Riga, from Iceland to Venice. In recent years archaeologists have discovered much about the development of their ships: the elegant Viking longboat, the ubiquitous cog, the hulk and the caravel. Much, too, has been revealed about life in Viking settlements and the bustling Hanse towns. In this engaging and highly-illustrated volume, Dirk Meier brings to life the world of the medieval seaman, based on evidence from ship excavations and contemporary accounts of voyages. Dr. Dirk Meier teaches ancient and medieval history and is Head of Coastal Archaeology at the Christian Albrechts University in Kiel, Germany.