The History Channel has a TV series called, Vikings, an amazing drama, which shows both the harshness and beauty, the drama and intrigue, of life during the Viking Age. Most of the series focuses upon the character of Ragnar Lodbrok, an adventurer and actual historical person. Of course, the TV series does take liberties with the story of Ragnar. The word “Viking,” denotes the people who were referred to as, “Norse” or “Norsemen.” Viking is an action word, to describe the activity of raiding and plundering i.e. “to go a-Viking.”

Be a Viking – Take a Journey

Most Viking journeys followed coasts or rivers, yet Vikings also possessed the ability to sail out of sight of land across the sea to new lands. This ability astonished their contemporaries, who were in awe of these fearless mariners and warriors. How did the Vikings cross the Atlantic Ocean to found the colonies of Iceland, Greenland and Vinland on present day Newfoundland?

To a certain extent, scholars know how the Vikings navigated. The Vikings had a rich marine tradition going back centuries. This intimate knowledge of coasts, currents, navigation marks, whales and sea birds all became part of a mental map the Vikings formed of their journeys.

The Vikings didn’t have any of the navigation tools we have today, although scholars now speculate they may have used simple tools to determine latitude.

Viking mariners navigated by their five senses, practical knowledge and an intuitive sense of where they were on their mental map. Using their senses, Vikings would note navigation marks—the highest hills or a weirdly shaped rock. They could see whales feeding in certain currents. Experienced mariners could hear birds calling and waves breaking on shore or rocks. They could taste if fresh water was flowing into the sea. Experienced sailors can smell land in a sea breeze, and feel the prevailing wind on their skin.

Vikings also used a plumb bob—a weight on the end of a line—to determine water depth. They might also have used a simple latitude finder, which was a circle of wood with a gnomen (the part of a sundial that casts a shadow), sticking up from it that floated in a bucket. The sun’s rays cast the gnomen’s shadow on the circle of wood. This tool helped the Vikings determine their latitude.

Some scholars think that Vikings might have used a sun compass or a sun stone to help them determine direction. In 1948, archeologists found a wooden half-circle which had multiple lines scratched on the edge. Some scholars think this wooden fragment discovered in Greenland could be part of a sun compass.

The Vikings were known to be great seafarers and probably navigated by using Sunstone crystals. They could also have been using telescopes about 500 years before the earliest recorded working telescope was invented in the Netherlands in 1608.[1]

When you are ready to set sail like a Viking and take action to begin your retirement journey, income planning is like a compass that guides you through the storms of life and sustains you in your voyage to reach a new world. Before you set sail it is important to understand your expenses. What will you need monthly? Also, understanding what is guaranteed and what is not. Are you ready to set sail? It begins with income planning.


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