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 March 2015
Universal:
Scientists: That those involved in scientific research may serve the well-being of the whole human person.
Evangelization: Contribution of women: That the unique contribution of women to the life of the Church may be recognized always.


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


Comments


More Europe

Terrorist attack plans AGAINST THE VATICAN unveiled during police raids in Italy Watch

Image of

By Abigail James (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

An al-Qaeda-linked terror cell, who once had direct contact with Osama bin Laden and planned an attack on the Vatican, has been uncovered and broken up during raids by the Italian police this week. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - The group in question is believed ... continue reading


North African immigrants flooding Italy - as many as 200,000 could be there in a year Watch

Image of Arrivals of migrants usually spike in the spring and summer months due to more inclement weather in the Mediterranean.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Italy has become a gateway for many African and Middle Easterners fleeing their war-torn lands for peace and prosperity. It is estimated that as many as 5,000 migrants a week arrive in Italy by sea from North African ports. This is leading to a crisis, with ... continue reading


Pope urges Christians and Jews to UNITE to defeat persecution in Europe Watch

Image of

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Meeting with a 30-member delegation of the Conference of European Rabbis, Pope Francis said that European Christians and Jews must stand together to defend one another from discrimination and persecution around the world. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - The ... continue reading


Money running out, Greek government orders raid on government coffers Watch

Image of Hopes of securing a deal by the end of the month have faded, following a fraught week in which debt drama moved temporarily to Washington for the IMF's spring conference.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

The Greek government has ordered a mandatory transfer of cash reserves from state-owned enterprises to the central bank. The action is a frantic bid to gather enough cash to remain solvent. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Citing "extremely urgent and ... continue reading


HISTORIC MEETING: Pope Francis meets with rabbis to decry growing anti-Semitism in Europe Watch

Image of In the face of rampant secularism in Europe and other parts of the world, Pope Francis suggested that Jews and Christians have a co-responsibility to keep faith in God alive.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Pope Francis met in the Vatican with a delegation from the Conference of European Rabbis, the first time a pope has ever met with the Conference. Foremost in the meeting were the troubling "anti-Semitic trends in Europe." The Pope called it a cause for worry, ... continue reading


Muslim migrants threw Nigerian and Ghana Christians overboard, police say Watch

Image of More than 10,000 people have arrived on Italian shores from Libya since last weekend alone.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Muslims among migrants trying to get from Libya to Italy in a boat killed 12 fellow passengers by throwing them overboard because they were Christians, Italian police say. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - At least 15 people have been arrested on suspicion of ... continue reading


Rare phenomenon 'worm rainfall' observed in Norway, scientists still baffled Watch

Image of

By Atarah Haely (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Thousands of earthworms were observed falling from the sky across the southern part of Norway, which still baffles the scientists. The rare phenomenon was sighted by a Biology teacher Karstein Erstad, as he was skiing in the mountains near Bergen last weekend. ... continue reading


Pope Francis is part of 'evil front' against Turkey, prime minister declares Watch

Image of Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu has accused Pope Francis of being part of an

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu has accused Pope Francis of being part of an "evil front" plotting against his country. The Pope used the term "genocide" in describing the massacre of one million Armenians during the Ottoman Empire in 1915. LOS ANGELES, CA ... continue reading


Vatican-backed exorcism course warns of 'beautiful young vampires' Watch

Image of

By Abigail James (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

"Beautiful young vampires," in vitro fertilization and gay rights were among the warnings for possession presented during a Vatican-backed exorcism course. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Vampires from pop culture Hollywood films, like Twilight and True Blood, were ... continue reading


Pope Francis' talk about Satan increases worldwide interest in exorcism Watch

Image of A week-long exorcism conference, held this week at the Pontifical University of Regina Apostolorum in Rome and endorsed by the Vatican, is being attended by around 160 Catholic priests from around the world.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

The world is now in the throes of an increased awareness of Satan and the "dark arts" of exorcism. Pope Francis' fire-and-brimstone language, coupled with his frequent references to the Devil has raised awareness of the Evil One once again into the mainstream of ... continue reading


All Europe News

Newsletters

Newsletter Sign Up icon

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

Daily Readings

Psalm, Psalms 117:1, 2
1 Meanwhile Saul was still breathing threats to ... Read More

Gospel, John 6:52-59
52 Then the Jews started arguing among themselves, ... Read More

Saint of the Day

Saint of the Day for April 24th, 2015 Image

St. Fidelis of Sigmaringen
April 24: Franciscan Capuchin martyr. He was born Mark Rey is Sigmaringen, ... 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