Norse Navigation in the Northern Isles

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This article explores the navigation and seafaring strategies used by Norse mariners in and around the Northern Isles of Scotland. To do so we draw upon a diverse range of sources including saga accounts, placenames, archaeological remains, early historic maps as well as logistical considerations. This diachronic perspective is inspired by Christer Westerdahl’s “maritime cultural landscapes” methodology as well as recent studies of prehistoric seafaring. It is demonstrated, through close examination of the available evidence, that the Norse mariners had very well-developed strategies to avoid dangers as well as maximize their efficiency at sea to ensure that journeys were as safe and fast as possible. Topics explored include navigation markers, naming strategies, landing places, portages, beacons, anchorages and pilots.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-28
Number of pages28
JournalJournal of the North Atlantic
Issue number44
Publication statusPublished - 28 Mar 2024


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