sail-world.com
 
 
News Home Cruising Photo Gallery Video Gallery
Sail-World.com : Curious stone shown to be mythical navigation tool - the sunstone
Curious stone shown to be mythical navigation tool - the sunstone


'Milky white stone discovered, now shown to be the mythical sunstone'    .

The milky white stone found in the remains of a ship dispatched to France in 1592 by Queen Elizabeth I, which foundered off the Island of Alderney in the English Channel, IS a sunstone, researchers say, a near-mythical navigation tool used by Viking sailors

In a theory first aired 45 years ago, sunstones were clear crystals which were used as navigation tools by the great Viking mariners to navigate their way during the Viking heyday of 900-1200AD, a long time before the magnetic compass was introduced to Europe in the 13h century. Sunstones assumes near-mythical status as the theory couldn't be proven.

The discovered stone has been confirmed to be made of Iceland spar, a transparent, naturally-occurring calcite crystal that polarises light and can get a bearing on the sun

British and French scientists have long argued that the find could be a sunstone - a device that fractures the light, enabling seafarers to locate the sun even when it is behind clouds or has dipped below the horizon.

But there is only a sketchy reference in ancient Norse literature to a 'solarsteinn,' which means the idea has remained frustratingly without solid proof. The sunstone is a type of mineral attested in several 13th–14th century written sources in Iceland, one of which describes its use to locate the sun in a completely overcast sky. Sunstones are also mentioned in the inventories of several churches and one monastery in 14th–15th century Iceland.

The description in 'Rauðúlfs þáttr' of the use of the sunstone is as follows:
The weather was thick and snowy as Sigurður had predicted. Then the king summoned Sigurður and Dagur (Rauðúlfur's sons) to him. The king made people look out and they could nowhere see a clear sky. Then he asked Sigurður to tell where the sun was at that time. He gave a clear assertion. Then the king made them fetch the solar stone and held it up and saw where light radiated from the stone and thus directly verified Sigurður’ s prediction.

However, in a study published recently in the British journal Proceedings of the Royal Society A, investigators carried out a chemical analysis on a tiny sample, using a device called a spectrometer, which confirmed that the stone was a calcite.

The original stone is about the size of a small bar of soap whose edges have been trimmed at an angle.

It is milky white in appearance, and not transparent, but the new experiments show that this is surface discolouration, caused by centuries of immersion in sea water and abrasion by sand, the study said.

Using a transparent crystal similar to the original, the scientists were able to follow the track of the setting sun in poor light, with an accuracy of one degree. In a second experiment, they were able to locate the sun for 40 minutes after sunset.

Other factors provide evidence that this is a sunstone, according to the investigation, led by Guy Ropars of the University of Rennes, in France's western region of Brittany.

The crystal was found in the wreckage alongside a pair of navigation dividers.


by Nancy Knudsen

  

Click on the FB Like link to post this story to your FB wall

http://www.sail-world.com/index.cfm?nid=108407

11:45 PM Sat 13 Apr 2013GMT


Click here for printer friendly version
Click here to send us feedback or comments about this story.


Related News Stories:

14 Apr 2013  Barque Europa sails to the Antarctic - and you can go with her!
12 Apr 2013  Historic photos of first solo circumnavigation saved for posterity
09 Apr 2013  Newport Rhode Island - time to visit for a new yachting exhibition
09 Apr 2013  No operator yet, but tall ship sails again in Adelaide waters.
11 Mar 2013  Sedov, over 90, but midway through a circumnavigation
08 Mar 2013  Phoenicia is back - now to cross the Atlantic
29 Jan 2013  Sole surviving heritage sailing gig to be restored
12 Oct 2012  Historic sailing journey for 31 lucky Indian sailors
14 Sep 2012  Gundalows - a new life for the Piscataqua
10 Sep 2012  Amundsen's schooner finally to sail home
MORE STORIES ...






News - USA and the World



















Audi Melges 20 U.S. Nationals - Oleander takes early lead by International Audi Melges 20 Class Association,




2014 Detroit Cup - Sam Gilmour leads by Dobbs Davis, Detroit, Michigan








Audi Hamilton Island Race Week: Riding the AC45 - VIDEO by Crosbie Lorimer, Hamilton Island










America's Cup: Five Challengers sign-on for 35th Match by Richard Gladwell/Sail-World.com/nz,


Volvo Ocean Race CEO Knut Frostad talks Time and Money (Part II) *Feature by Rob Kothe and the Sail-World team,


















AWT Quatro Desert Showdown at Punta San Carlos by American Windsurfing Tour,






Audi Hamilton Island Race Week; MC38s Lindeman Island Race VIDEO
2014 Audi Melges 20 U.S. National Championship - Ready to rock
IFDS Worlds - Wind delays, but racing continues in Halifax
IFDS World Championships - Day 2 images by Jude Robertson
MS Cup - Three days until the start
America's Cup: Rod Davis - Time for a change after ten years with team *Feature
ISAF seeking hosting bids for Nations Cup
Laser 4.7 Youth Worlds - Luvisetto and Alexadr Boite victorious +Video
IFDS World Championships - Action shots by Tim Wilkes
Maxi yacht rendezvous this September in Sardinia
World Yacht Racing Forum 2014: 'Growing the business of Yacht Racing'
Clipper Race: 2015-16 edition of world's longest ocean race 70% full
Sevenstar Round Britain and Ireland - Swish smash 5th World Record
Leaderboards take shape at the Nanjing Youth Olympic Games 2014
IFDS Worlds - Hot competition on first day of racing
Challenging Conditions - CORK OCR
IFDS World Championship - Day 1 for the US Sailing Team
2014 Melges 20 World Championship - Countdown begins
2014 Nanjing Youth Olympic Games - Day 3
America's Cup: Team NZ wish Davis well with new team *Feature
Fisher's View: Sailing perfection at Hamilton Island- Day 3   
Roble and Wilson still number one match racers in the U.S.   
2014 Formula Kite World Championship Day 1   
IFDS World Championship - Day 1 images by Jude Robertson   
Volvo Ocean Race: Forget the f-word - Team SCA profiled   
52 Super Series - Fleet grows, 2015 dates revealed   
420 and 470 Junior Europeans - Teams from 9 nations on the podium   
IFDS Worlds - Former president presented with ISAF awards medal   
Nanjing Youth Olympic Games - Improvements aplenty in Byte CII fleets   
America's Cup: New Zealand loses top coach to Artemis Racing   
Volvo Ocean Race 2014-15 CEO Knut Frostad talks (Part I) *Feature   
Sevenstar Round Britain and Ireland Race Day 9 - Swish on record pace   
2014 CORK Olympic Classes Regatta - Day 3   
2014 Nanjing Youth Olympic Games - Day 2   
2014 IFDS World Championship: Opening Ceremony images   
Opera House Cup - Images by Ingrid Abery   
Teams descend upon Cowes for inaugural J/111 World Championships   
Hamilton Island Race Week: Everywhere there's smiley people   
IFDS World Championships - US Paralympic hopefuls ready for racing   
Sopot Match Race - Poland's Tour debut deemed a triumph   


For this week's complete news stories select    Last 7 Days
   Search All News
For last month's complete news stories select    Last 30 Days
   Archive News







Sail-World.com  


















Switch Default Region to:

Social Media

Asia

Australia

Canada

Europe

New Zealand

United Kingdom


http://www.sail-world.com/event_images/image/Twitter_logo_small.png http://www.sail-world.com/event_images/image/FaceBook-icon.png  http://www.sail-world.com/event_images/image/RSS-Icon.png

United States

Cruising Northern

Cruising Southern

MarineBusiness World

PowerBoat World

FishingBoating World

 

Contact

Commercial

News

Search

Contact Us

Advertisers Information

Submit news/events

Search Stories/Text

Feedback

Advertisers Directory

Newsletter Archive

Photo Gallery

 

Banner Advertising Details

Newsletter Subscribe

Video Gallery

Policies

 

 

 

Privacy Policy

 

 


Cookie Policy

 

 



This site and its contents are © Copyright TetraMedia and/or the original author, photographer etc. All Rights Reserved.  Photographs are copyright by law.  If you wish to use or buy a photograph contact the photographer directly.
XLXL NEW US
LocalAds   DE  ES  FR  IT