News Home Video Gallery Newsletters Photo Gallery Cruising Int
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 ...






Cruising USA











The final touch - which wax should I use on my boat? by Martin Flory/Sail-World Cruising,


ARC Baltic sets sail to discover Europe's 'east sea' by World Cruising Club/Sail-World,








Heart-stopping moment as whale capsizes Zodiac by Sail-World Cruising round-up,


If we stop killing parrotfish we can bring back Caribbean coral reefs by ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies,


Climate change could stop fish finding their friends by ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies,














A Beer Bummel on the Thames River by Greg Nicoll with John Armstrong,






The North West Passage calls: Who will answer this year? by Douglas Pohl/Sail-World Cruising,






















Composite Rigging launches new campaign for ECsix
When is a Captain not a Captain?
Free app for managing your yacht
Amazing MOB survival - 13 hours floating, rescued by fishermen
Boater hit by lightning survives: 'It was the worst pain ever'
Inauguration of the new Yacht Club Monaco - Images by Carlo Borlenghi
Lessons for sailing clubs - how does YOURS rate?
Turkey's new cruising black/gray water rules, skipper qualifications
Giving up the luxuries of a life on land for Lizzy Belle
Dehler 46, 'serious' cruising boat, debuts July
SV Mystic to carry out OHPRI teen summer camps and voyages for adults
Australian rescuers get bravery medal for rescuing Russian sailor
Sailors and windfarms: Largest ever UK wind project approved
Cooking at Sea? Which cook book should I buy?
Fraudulent yacht broker gets jail for twelve months
Jimmy Buffett's Margaritaville joins Summer Sailstice
Retired yachting star to sail again - for the love of her boat
The quest to save coral - one man's plan
Paint Guide: Carry it with you on your smart phone
The mouse is roaring. Newport mooring owners don't want docks
Being a guest on someone's boat - 8 Tips to get you invited again   
Bounty sinking Coast Guard final report: rot, decay, low standards   
Carbon monoxide poisoning on boats - it keeps happening   
Own a romantic Skipjack for just $10,000   
Classics Rally in Falmouth - historic and spectacular this weekend   
New Polar Code for cruising in the high latitudes   
Croatia's sailing world comes of age   
Textbook sailing errors, but rescued by a passing windsurfer   
Caught sailing in Long Island Sound: The Charles W. Morgan   
Hoax distress caller for mythical yacht gets 3 months jail   
A dream in the making: The perfect (and affordable) cruising boat   
Good Samaritans Tossing A Towline: For Free or for Money?   
How to bail a boat without a bailer   
Pantaenius provides safety tracking for major events *Feature   
Know your charts and sail clear of deadly rocks and reefs!   
Remember, June 21 coming soon. Sail to save the sea this solstice   
Chance of a lifetime: One student a year to sail the Arctic   
Sailor makes new record for the longest laser sail in Asia   
Oakley Capital to buy North Sails Europe -merge with Norths Sails USA   
Plan hatching to sail on Saturn's largest moon, Titan   


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  

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 Cru USA
LocalAds   DE  ES  FR  IT