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Interesting article about Viking navigation and "Sunstones"

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  • leaking pen
    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/science/science-news/8862471/Magical-Viking-stone-may-be-real.html A Viking legend which tells of a glowing sunstone that, when
    Message 1 of 8 , Nov 3, 2011
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      http://www.telegraph.co.uk/science/science-news/8862471/Magical-Viking-stone-may-be-real.html


      A Viking legend which tells of a glowing "sunstone" that, when held up
      to the sky, disclosed the position of the Sun on a cloudy day may have
      some basis in truth, scientists believe.

      The ancient race are believed to have to discovered North America
      hundreds of years before Christopher Columbus.

      Now experiments have shown that a crystal, called an Iceland spar,
      could detect the sun with an accuracy within a degree – allowing the
      legendary seafarers to navigate thousands of miles on cloudy days and
      during short Nordic nights.

      Dr Guy Ropars, of the University of Rennes, and colleagues said "a
      precision of a few degrees could be reached" even when the sun was
      below the horizon.

      An Iceland spar, which is transparent and made of calcite, was found
      in the wreck of an Elizabethan ship discovered thirty years ago off
      the coast of Alderney in the Channel Islands after it sank in 1592
      just four years after the defeat of the Spanish Armada.

      Viking legend tells of an enigmatic sunstone or sólarsteinn that, when
      held up to the sky, revealed the position of the sun, even on overcast
      days or below the horizon, the study reveals.

      One Icelandic saga describes how, during cloudy, snowy weather, King
      Olaf consulted Sigurd on the location of the Sun. To check Sigurd's
      answer, Olaf "grabbed a sunstone, looked at the sky and saw from where
      the light came, from which he guessed the position of the invisible
      Sun"

      Using the polarisation of the skylight, as many animals like bees do,
      the Vikings could have used to give them true bearings.

      The Viking routes in the North Atlantic were often subject to dense
      fog and the stone could also be used to locate the sun on very cloudy
      days.

      The researchers said such sunstones could have helped the Vikings in
      their navigation from Norway to America before the discovery of the
      magnetic compass in Europe.

      They would have relied upon the sun's piercing rays reflected through
      a piece of the calcite. The trick is that light coming from 90 degrees
      opposite the sun will be polarised so even when the sun is below the
      horizon it is possible to tell where it is.

      They used the double refraction of calcite to pinpoint the sun by
      rotating the crystals until both sides of the double image are of
      equal intensity.

      Navigation was based on tables showing the position of the sun in the
      sky at various times of year, prior to the use of the compass by
      Europeans, around the 12th century.

      Added the researchers: "The Alderney discovery opens new possibilities
      as it looks very promising to find Iceland spars in other ancient
      shipwrecks, or in archaeological sites located on the seaside such as
      the Viking settlement with ship repair recently discovered in
      Ireland."

      The study is published in the journal Proceedings of the Royal Society
    • froggie_910@att.blackberry.net
      Very cool. Thank you for sharing! ... From: leaking pen Sender: medievalsawdust@yahoogroups.com Date: Thu, 3 Nov 2011 12:13:07 To:
      Message 2 of 8 , Nov 3, 2011
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        Very cool. Thank you for sharing!
        -----Original Message-----
        From: leaking pen <itsatrap@...>
        Sender: medievalsawdust@yahoogroups.com
        Date: Thu, 3 Nov 2011 12:13:07
        To: college_of_brymstonne<college_of_brymstonne@yahoogroups.com>; <medievalsawdust@yahoogroups.com>
        Reply-To: medievalsawdust@yahoogroups.com
        Subject: [MedievalSawdust] Interesting article about Viking navigation and "Sunstones"

        http://www.telegraph.co.uk/science/science-news/8862471/Magical-Viking-stone-may-be-real.html


        A Viking legend which tells of a glowing "sunstone" that, when held up
        to the sky, disclosed the position of the Sun on a cloudy day may have
        some basis in truth, scientists believe.

        The ancient race are believed to have to discovered North America
        hundreds of years before Christopher Columbus.

        Now experiments have shown that a crystal, called an Iceland spar,
        could detect the sun with an accuracy within a degree – allowing the
        legendary seafarers to navigate thousands of miles on cloudy days and
        during short Nordic nights.

        Dr Guy Ropars, of the University of Rennes, and colleagues said "a
        precision of a few degrees could be reached" even when the sun was
        below the horizon.

        An Iceland spar, which is transparent and made of calcite, was found
        in the wreck of an Elizabethan ship discovered thirty years ago off
        the coast of Alderney in the Channel Islands after it sank in 1592
        just four years after the defeat of the Spanish Armada.

        Viking legend tells of an enigmatic sunstone or sólarsteinn that, when
        held up to the sky, revealed the position of the sun, even on overcast
        days or below the horizon, the study reveals.

        One Icelandic saga describes how, during cloudy, snowy weather, King
        Olaf consulted Sigurd on the location of the Sun. To check Sigurd's
        answer, Olaf "grabbed a sunstone, looked at the sky and saw from where
        the light came, from which he guessed the position of the invisible
        Sun"

        Using the polarisation of the skylight, as many animals like bees do,
        the Vikings could have used to give them true bearings.

        The Viking routes in the North Atlantic were often subject to dense
        fog and the stone could also be used to locate the sun on very cloudy
        days.

        The researchers said such sunstones could have helped the Vikings in
        their navigation from Norway to America before the discovery of the
        magnetic compass in Europe.

        They would have relied upon the sun's piercing rays reflected through
        a piece of the calcite. The trick is that light coming from 90 degrees
        opposite the sun will be polarised so even when the sun is below the
        horizon it is possible to tell where it is.

        They used the double refraction of calcite to pinpoint the sun by
        rotating the crystals until both sides of the double image are of
        equal intensity.

        Navigation was based on tables showing the position of the sun in the
        sky at various times of year, prior to the use of the compass by
        Europeans, around the 12th century.

        Added the researchers: "The Alderney discovery opens new possibilities
        as it looks very promising to find Iceland spars in other ancient
        shipwrecks, or in archaeological sites located on the seaside such as
        the Viking settlement with ship repair recently discovered in
        Ireland."

        The study is published in the journal Proceedings of the Royal Society


        ------------------------------------
      • Lynda Fjellman
        Interesting, I thought they used Iolites.  I remember hearing something about that a number of years ago. Ilaria
        Message 3 of 8 , Nov 3, 2011
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          Interesting, I thought they used Iolites.  I remember hearing something about that a number of years ago.
          Ilaria



          http://www.telegraph.co.uk/science/science-news/8862471/Magical-Viking-stone-may-be-real.html


          A Viking legend which tells of a glowing "sunstone" that, when held up
          to the sky, disclosed the position of the Sun on a cloudy day may have
          some basis in truth, scientists believe.

          The ancient race are believed to have to discovered North America
          hundreds of years before Christopher Columbus.

          Now experiments have shown that a crystal, called an Iceland spar,

        • Geirfold
          Nothing like doing a study on something that was proven 40 years ago. I have several books on Viking Age history that were printed in the 60 s and 70 s that
          Message 4 of 8 , Nov 4, 2011
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            Nothing like doing a study on something that was proven 40 years ago. I have several books on Viking Age history that were printed in the 60's and 70's that already gave that information.

            However, please do not take this as a disparagement to your haveing posted the link and story.

            Geirfold

            --- In medievalsawdust@yahoogroups.com, leaking pen <itsatrap@...> wrote:
            >
            > http://www.telegraph.co.uk/science/science-news/8862471/Magical-Viking-stone-may-be-real.html
            >
            >
            >
          • leaking pen
            My understanding is that no such stone had yet been found with a wreck, no?
            Message 5 of 8 , Nov 4, 2011
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              My understanding is that no such stone had yet been found with a wreck, no? 

              On Fri, Nov 4, 2011 at 6:48 AM, Geirfold <hammered_shamrock@...> wrote:
               

              Nothing like doing a study on something that was proven 40 years ago. I have several books on Viking Age history that were printed in the 60's and 70's that already gave that information.

              However, please do not take this as a disparagement to your haveing posted the link and story.

              Geirfold

              --- In medievalsawdust@yahoogroups.com, leaking pen <itsatrap@...> wrote:
              >
              > http://www.telegraph.co.uk/science/science-news/8862471/Magical-Viking-stone-may-be-real.html
              >
              >
              >


            • conradh@efn.org
              ... Calcite crystals are small, fragile and can dissolve under certain conditions, especially the presence of weak acids from decaying organic matter. Keeping
              Message 6 of 8 , Nov 4, 2011
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                > My understanding is that no such stone had yet been found with a wreck,
                > no?
                >
                Calcite crystals are small, fragile and can dissolve under certain
                conditions, especially the presence of weak acids from decaying organic
                matter.

                Keeping a better course also makes shipwreck less likely! ISTR that
                magnetic compasses are also documented for several centuries in both China
                and Europe before one turns up in situ in a shipwreck. That's why good
                navigators have always been valued by sailors, and why good instruments
                have always been valued by navigators. As my friend the retired Coast
                Guardsman puts it, "The sea rarely kills ships. It's that hard stuff
                around the edges."

                Ulfhedinn
              • Geirfold
                IIRC there wee at least three found in various Viking Graves. One or two in Birka, and I think the Oseberg and/or Gokstad burials. I d have to do some
                Message 7 of 8 , Nov 4, 2011
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                  IIRC there wee at least three found in various Viking Graves. One or two in Birka, and I think the Oseberg and/or Gokstad burials. I'd have to do some research to find the exact ones.

                  Geierfold

                  --- In medievalsawdust@yahoogroups.com, leaking pen <itsatrap@...> wrote:
                  >
                  > My understanding is that no such stone had yet been found with a wreck,
                  > no?
                  >
                  > On Fri, Nov 4, 2011 at 6:48 AM, Geirfold <hammered_shamrock@...>wrote:
                  >
                  > > **
                  > >
                  > >
                  > > Nothing like doing a study on something that was proven 40 years ago. I
                  > > have several books on Viking Age history that were printed in the 60's and
                  > > 70's that already gave that information.
                  > >
                  > > However, please do not take this as a disparagement to your haveing posted
                  > > the link and story.
                  > >
                  > > Geirfold
                  > >
                  > > --- In medievalsawdust@yahoogroups.com, leaking pen <itsatrap@> wrote:
                  > > >
                  > > >
                  > > http://www.telegraph.co.uk/science/science-news/8862471/Magical-Viking-stone-may-be-real.html
                  > > >
                  > > >
                  > > >
                  > >
                  > >
                  > >
                  >
                • Geirfold
                  Ok, so next time I make sure the cat is not in my lap when typing.
                  Message 8 of 8 , Nov 4, 2011
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                    Ok, so next time I make sure the cat is not in my lap when typing.

                    --- In medievalsawdust@yahoogroups.com, "Geirfold" <hammered_shamrock@...> wrote:
                    >
                    > IIRC there wee at least three found in various Viking Graves. One or two in Birka, and I think the Oseberg and/or Gokstad burials. I'd have to do some research to find the exact ones.
                    >
                    > Geierfold
                    >
                    > --- In medievalsawdust@yahoogroups.com, leaking pen <itsatrap@> wrote:
                    > >
                    > > My understanding is that no such stone had yet been found with a wreck,
                    > > no?
                    > >
                    > > On Fri, Nov 4, 2011 at 6:48 AM, Geirfold <hammered_shamrock@>wrote:
                    > >
                    > > > **
                    > > >
                    > > >
                    > > > Nothing like doing a study on something that was proven 40 years ago. I
                    > > > have several books on Viking Age history that were printed in the 60's and
                    > > > 70's that already gave that information.
                    > > >
                    > > > However, please do not take this as a disparagement to your haveing posted
                    > > > the link and story.
                    > > >
                    > > > Geirfold
                    > > >
                    > > > --- In medievalsawdust@yahoogroups.com, leaking pen <itsatrap@> wrote:
                    > > > >
                    > > > >
                    > > > http://www.telegraph.co.uk/science/science-news/8862471/Magical-Viking-stone-may-be-real.html
                    > > > >
                    > > > >
                    > > > >
                    > > >
                    > > >
                    > > >
                    > >
                    >
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