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Early Man and the Ocean 2010
- Social significant of Ocean Voyages


5. “Viking age navigation on trial – Observations of the sun”.

Lena Børjesson. Fosen Folk High School

It is described how the Viking age navigators should steer directly westward when sailing from Norway to Greenland. To accomplish this, it would most likely have been valuable for them to know their relative latitude. If starting from a point situated at the same latitude as their goal, the height of the sun would at noon be nearly the same during the voyage when keeping a straight westerly course. The higher accuracy of the determination of the sun’s height, the more precise the navigation would have been.

The paper will discuss trials made to find out with which accuracy it is possible to know the height of the sun. Two methods which may have been used by these navigators have been tried out: Estimation (without any instrument), and the use of a so called solskuggafjöl or sun shadow board.