According to Norse literature, like the Sagas of Icelanders, the Vikings used a magic crystal called the “Sunstone” to navigate the seas. Scientists have never been able to find any evidence of the crystal—mostly due to the fact Viking cremated their warriors, which would have destroyed the crystals. That was until the discovery of an Elizabethan shipwreck.

Three years ago scientists found the wreck of the Alderney off the British Channel, which sank in 1592. Among the navigational tools found was a oblong-shaped crystal and after spending three years examining the cloudy crystal they feel it could have been used to locate the sun even in cloudy weather. The crystal permits the observer to follow the azimuth of the sun, far below the horizon with an accuracy of plus or minus one degree.


The History Channel started a new program a couple of weeks ago called “The Vikings” and in last nights episode the “Sunstone” was used to aide the Vikings in their first journey west to England. The show is very interesting and you can watch the past episodes at the History Channel’s web site. With the discovery of the crystal I think shows that the ancient’s ventured farther into the open sea that first thought.

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