Early Norse Navigation Tools

Gypsey Teague, Clemson University

Presented at the 105th Annual SASS (Society for the Advancement of Scandinavian Studies) May 9, 2015, Columbus Ohio.


In the History Channel series Vikings Ragnar Loðbrok tells his brother Rollo he wants to sail west to raid the rich lands there. His brother points out that no one can sail across the open water. In this scene Ragnar pulls out two tools that while being interesting in the development of the story are both also historically factual. This paper will discuss these two tools, the sȯl-skuggafjöl and the sólarsteinn, as well as the bearing dial and a more observational technique of polar mirages used by the early Norse sailors as they explored the North Atlantic waters.