Wednesday, 2 April 2014

Evidence of Viking 'Sunstone' Found

In March 2013 it was reported that a Viking Sunstone had been found.
Ancient lore has suggested that the Vikings used special crystals to find their way under less-than-sunny skies. Though none of these so-called "sunstones" have ever been found at Viking archaeological sites, a crystal uncovered in a British shipwreck could help prove they did indeed exist.

The crystal was found amongst the wreckage of the Alderney, an Elizabethan warship that sank near the Channel Islands in 1592. The stone was discovered less than 3 feet (1 meter) from a pair of navigation dividers, suggesting it may have been kept with the ship's other navigational tools, according to the research team headed by scientists at the University of Rennes in France.
A chemical analysis confirmed that the stone was Icelandic Spar, or calcite crystal, believed to be the Vikings' mineral of choice for their fabled sunstones, first mentioned in the 13th-century Viking saga of Saint Olaf.

Today, the Alderney crystal would be useless for navigation, because it has been abraded by sand and clouded by magnesium salts. But in better days, such a stone would have bent light in a helpful way for seafarers.
Because of the rhombohedral shape of calcite crystals, they refract or polarize light in such a way to create a double image. This means that if you were to look at someone's face through a clear chunk of Icelandic spar, you would see two faces. But if the crystal is held in just the right position, the double image becomes a single image and you know the crystal is pointing east-west.

The study’s authors say the crystal could be used to determine the sun's location with an accuracy of one degree, even when it was invisible to the naked eye.


http://www.ctvnews.ca/sci-tech/mythical-viking-sunstone-could-have-really-worked-study-1.1185469#ixzz2tuArOHpT

http://news.discovery.com/earth/rocks-fossils/viking-sunstone-shipwreck-130311.htm