Skip to content
Catholic Online Logo

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

4/18/2013 (2 years ago)

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

Magical crystal was used for navigation in Viking's travels

Salvaged from the depths of Alderney, third largest of the Channel Islands, there lies the wreck of an Elizabethan warship sunken in 1592. Many treasures were pulled form the depths there in the years after 2002. Amidst many ancient treasures, a rather inelegant object that "looks like a bar of soap and is just as opaque," is believed to be the mythical and magical "Sunstone," a navigational tool that helped the Vikings in their pillages and plunder.

Essential to the Vikings' navigation was there place in relation to the sun. Historians have long wondered how they navigated on the days when weather conditions or the time of the day meant that the sun was out of sight.

Essential to the Vikings' navigation was there place in relation to the sun. Historians have long wondered how they navigated on the days when weather conditions or the time of the day meant that the sun was out of sight.

Highlights

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

4/18/2013 (2 years ago)

Published in Europe

Keywords: Vikings, sunstone, naval navigation, archaeology, mythology


LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic online) - Researchers believe that the item in its heyday was more like a gleaming crystal. Archaeologists now think that it may be an example of a fabled Viking navigational aid known as a sunstone, able to pinpoint the location of the sun even when cloud or fog made it invisible in the skies above.

The Alderney crystal could be the world's first known specimen is likely to cause almost as big a stir as might the capture of a leprechaun, or the discovery of King Arthur's sword.

As published in the scientific journal, Proceedings of the Royal Society, physicists at the University of Rennes in Brittany say that the Alderney crystal remains one of the great maritime mysteries: how to explain the nautical prowess of the Vikings in an age long before the invention of reliable magnetic compasses.

Vikings raped and pillaged their way from Scandinavia to reach not just British shores but also those of North America, where they are believed to have set up colonies in the 10th century. One of the great mysteries was as to how they were able to accurately navigate to foreign lands. Their vessels held up to 120 men and crashing through the waves at up to 15 knots - almost 20 miles per hour. An error of just a few degrees could take them rapidly off course

Essential to their navigation was there place in relation to the sun. Historians have long wondered how they navigated on the days when weather conditions or the time of the day meant that the sun was out of sight.

An Icelandic legend about the travels of the Norwegian king Olaf in the 11th century refers to sunstones.

One winter's day, Olaf met a farmer's son named Sigurour, who boasted that he could sense the position of the sun even in a snowy sky. According to legend, the assembled company looked out of the window but "could nowhere see a clear sky." After asking Sigurour to tell him where the sun was, the king ordered his minions to fetch "the solar stone" to test the young man's claims.

'He held it up and saw where light radiated from the stone and thus directly verified Sigurour's prediction.'

Sunstones are also found in the inventories of several churches and one monastery in 14th-century Iceland. No official sunstones have ever been found, until scientists began to investigate a crystal called Icelandic spar, which would have been quite common in the Vikings' homelands.

The crystal has a peculiar molecular structure, which means that light passing through it is split into two. Rotating the crystal eventually exposes the point where the two beams converge, and it is this angle that indicates the direction of the sun.

The jury is still out. Left languishing in a wooden box with only a purple velvet lining to dignify it as anything other than a nondescript piece of rock, the Alderney crystal may soon be retrieved from the storeroom and honored with its own display cabinet.

---


Pope Francis: end world hunger through 'Prayer and Action'


Copywriter 2015 - Distributed by THE NEWS CONSORTIUM

Pope Francis Prayer Intentions for June 2015
Universal:
That immigrants and refugees may find welcome and respect in the countries to which they come.
Evangelization: That the personal encounter with Jesus may arouse in many young people the desire to offer their own lives in priesthood or consecrated life.


Rosaries, Crosses, Prayer Cards and more... by Catholic Shopping .com


Comments


More Europe

The new 'Iron Curtain': Hungary plans massive border fence to keep migrants out Watch

Image of Border fence between United States and Mexico.

By Talia Ramos (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Critics are not happy with the Hungarian government's plan to construct a 13-foot high border fence to narrow down the influx of illegal migrants coming to their country. The planned border is being compared to the historically terrifying Auschwitz and Iron Curtain ... continue reading


Horrific terrorist attacks in France, Tunisia and Kuwait unleashed simultaneously Watch

Image of

By Abigail James (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Three different terrorist attacks occurred in three different areas, leaving a bloody line of death across three continents. The recent and horrific attacks reawaken the fear that ISIS' influence knows no boundaries. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - The attacks took ... continue reading


Mystery surrounds disappearance of American woman on ancient Catholic pilgrimage in Spain Watch

Image of Denise Thiem mysteriously disappears during her Catholic Pilgrimage in Spain.

By Linky C. (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Denise Thiem, an American woman who quit her job to go around the world, disappeared while in a Catholic Pilgrimage in Astorga, Spain and has been missing for more than three months  Thiem's family is continuously searching for answers from the Spanish authorities ... continue reading


Riots and protests prompt the banning of the Uber taxi service in France Watch

Image of The taxi protests in Paris have shined yet another unflattering spotlight on the world's most popular tourist destination. Politicians on both sides of the spectrum condemned the violence.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Denied their livelihood by the cyber-taxi service Uber, which pairs up paying passengers with unlicensed drivers, cab drivers overturned cars and blocked roads in Paris. The Uber service is already illegal in France, and the French government reiterated this ... continue reading


ZOMBIE PARANOIA: Gravesites suggest that fear of reanimated dead stretches back to ancient Greece Watch

Image of The head and feet of one skeleton were covered with a

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Modern man enjoys movies and TV shows involving the recently reanimated dead - "zombies," but in antiquity, the fear of the deceased suddenly coming back to life to wreak havoc with the living was at one time a real one. Skeletons have been unearthed and found ... continue reading


Ukraine's fragile ceasefire nearing collapse as rebels pound government positions Watch

Image of Fighters in Russian military uniforms and equipped with Russian military gear, though lacking insignias, have been spotted in Ukraine since early last year, part of a destabilizing effort to overthrow the Kiev government.

By Matt Waterson (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

The abundance of evidence that Russia is covertly and overtly assisting Ukrainian rebels in their fight against Kiev continues to grow, and now the commander of U.S. forces in Europe said that there is "clear and irrefutable evidence" that Russia is actively ... continue reading


Panicked Greeks withdraw $1 billion from banks in a single day Watch

Image of Expressing a mood of panic, and a resignation that no further help from Europe is forthcoming, Greeks withdrew over $1.1 billion dollars from their bank accounts last week.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Expressing a mood of panic, and a resignation that no further help from Europe is forthcoming, Greeks withdrew over $1.1 billion dollars from their bank accounts last week. This pushes the beleaguered European nation closer towards a default. LOS ANGELES, CA ... continue reading


Doctors found euthanizing patients without knowledge -- or consent in Belgium Watch

Image of Belgium became the first nation in the world in 2014 to eliminate age limits for euthanasia, allowing terminally-ill children to end their lives.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

In the "forward-thinking" European nation of Belgium, it has been discovered that many doctors there - pun intended. - have been "jumping the gun." Raphael Cohen-Almagor, a professor of philosophy and ethics at the United Kingdom's Hull University, has ... continue reading


Pope Francis' environmental encyclical will be published this Thursday Watch

Image of

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Pope Francis' long awaited environmental encyclical, entitled Laudato Si, on the care of our common home will be published this Thursday. The encyclical tackles issues such as climate change. It is expected to be met with controversy. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic ... continue reading


Pope's former ambassador to the Dominican Republic faces child sexual abuse charges Watch

Image of Jozef Wesolowski served as nuncio to Bolivia, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan. The Vatican said it was investigating Wesolowski in August of 2013 and removing him from his post.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Pope's former ambassador to the Dominican Republic, Jozef Wesolowski will be tried at the Vatican on child sexual abuse charges beginning next month, the Vatican says. The 66-year-old Wesoloswki is the highest-ranking former Vatican official to be arrested for ... continue reading


All Europe News

Newsletters

Newsletter Sign Up icon

Stay up to date with the latest news, information, and special offers

Daily Readings

Reading 1, Genesis 19:15-29
15 When dawn broke the angels urged Lot on, 'To your ... Read More

Psalm, Psalms 26:2-3, 9-10, 11-12
2 Probe me, Yahweh, examine me, Test my heart and my ... Read More

Gospel, Matthew 8:23-27
23 Then he got into the boat followed by his ... Read More

Saint of the Day

Saint of the Day for June 30th, 2015 Image

First Martyrs of the See of Rome
June 30: The holy men and women are also called the “Protomartyrs of ... Read More

Inform, Inspire & Ignite Logo

Find Catholic Online on Facebook and get updates right in your live feed.

Become a fan of Catholic Online on Facebook


Follow Catholic Online on Twitter and get News and Product updates.

Follow us on Twitter