This website is about Vikings, especially the Norse from Greenland and how they explored Vinland.
An analysis of the artifacts on this website shows that the Vikings were using special methods for navigation and simple map making. Following the sun through the days and the stars at night through the year fulfilled this purpose. Furthermore it will be shown that the Vikings had some knowledge of positioning (practical use of gnomonic projection based on measuring the height of the sun and the corresponding length of the shadow). It is demonstrated through the instruments they were using, especially the bearing-dials shown below. Pls. read the article:Vikings in Sop's Arm here: (pdf-format 453KB) or the article: The bearing-dial and mapping Vinland here: (pdf-format 220KB) or Vikings and Vinland in Danish here (pdf-format 437KB).
One of the finds cut in wood (the bearing-dial on the right) has been C-14 analysed: calibr. + - 1 stand. dev.: 895-1010 AD, and the geometrical patterns are related to the latitudes and geographical areas around Newfoundland, Cape Breton and Prince Edwards Island. More info here . The bearing-dial in the middle is cut in sandstone and turned 30 degrees compared to the one of wood, showing New Foundland and especially Cape Breton. The bearingdials are showing different mapping areas.
Index for special questions (FAQ) on this website: Look for updates here.
From Vebaeks finds in East Settlement in Greenland 1948 we can investigate some of their tools - especially the bearing-dials and the sunstone. And with help from computer software, digitizing and GPS-systems we will make experiments and analyses ourselves corresponding with Celestial Navigation. Click the images above for more information about the bearing-dials, the sunstone and the sunstick. Find geographical information on bearing-dials here for positioning purposes.
A comparison of two approximately similar bearing-dials in existence, an early one found in Greenland (Vebaek 1948) and one with unknown finding place (the picture at left above), shows that they are identical in shape but differ in details, and clearly reveals that the dials are carved consciously and not broken. The patterns on both sides and on the edges are showing us the meridians the vikings have followed and in which geographical areas they have sailed and stayed.
From the finds we can illustrate that the Norse knew how to measure latitudes. We also know that they measured the height of the sun during the seasons of the year and found some sort of declination so they were able to build a calendar and manage daymarks. Calendar stones were used for organizing the society and finding seasons and directions for navigation purposes.
The Norse have used bearing-dials and sunstones for navigational and exploring purposes: measuring positions of the sun (azimuth, amplitudes (sunrise and sunset)) and heights (altitude) of the sun from sunrise to sunset, noon and other daymarks (e.g. eykts). When Leifs explored Vinland for the first time he stated his position this way: It was "eyktarstadr" (sunset) in a special daymark (eykt) at "skamdagr" (winter solstice): Find a computer simulation here.
Comparing the patterns on the bearing-dials with the construction of Trelleborg (980 AD) in Denmark and Sweden are showing us that they are based on the same methods. More info here .
last updated 6. Febr. 2014, copyright 2001 - 2014 Erik Torpegaard
If you want to join the work: projectdescription, translation, modelling and analyses or make any comments to the site - please mail me here: Mail to Erik Torpegaard
Special thanks to: Kent Budden and Bjorn Simonsen