Tag Archives: Rauðúlfs þáttr

I is for Iceland Spar

It’s one thing to get from place to place by boat if you can keep an eye on the coastline the entire time. But if you want to cross the open sea without GPS, you will need some sort of instrument for navigation. Magnetic compasses are nice, but mariners at the time of the Rune Poem did not have them. With a watch they could have pointed the little hand at the sun and halfway between it and the 12 will be south. They had no watches. They had sticks and the sun, with that they could find direction easily enough, the shortest shadow of the day points south, and the shadow will move in an easterly direction as the sun tracks west. This works beautifully for navigating on land, land does not pitch and roll under your feet, sending shadows in every direction. It’s a different thing on an unsteady ship, a sea … More