11. June 2014 08:16 /
For long it was recounted that Viking sailors made use of special ‘Sunstones’ that were used to navigate their ships when the sky was covered with clouds; but there was no evidence found that suggested that such stones actually existed in nature. But now there is evidence!
Scientists have reported about the discovery of an unusual crystal among the numerous navigation tools of Alderney, which was an Elizabethan warship that went down close to the Channel Islands off the French Coast in 1592. The sinking took place three centuries after the Vikings had ended their period of hegemony, the discovery nonetheless is a proof that sunstones may have been widely used by seamen of old in order to help them navigate.
Particularly, at twilight when the stone is no longer visible below the horizon, and the stars also seem unobservable, this device had the tendency to provide the mariners with the exact reference of the destination.
The chemical analysis of the sunstone was a confirmation that this stone was a calcite crystal which was also known as the Icelandic Spar — believed to be a favorite mineral for Viking sunstones.
Due to the unusual property that the sunstone possesses of creating double refraction of sunlight, the sun’s position can be pinpointed with notable precision simply by turning it against the human eye until the darkness of the two shadows become equal. Researchers say the principle holds true even when obscured by thick cloud or fog.
The sunstone may or may not be a magical gem that gives the wearers the ability to plot the sun’s courses even at night. Many experts have the belief that Nordic voyagers may have arrived in the Americas several centuries before Columbus.
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