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Norwegian Vikings on the Faeroe Islands
Introduction

Swedish Vikings
- Sweden
- Estonia
- Ukraine 

Norw. Vikings 
-
Norway 
- Isle of Man
- Faeroe Islands
- Iceland
- Greenland
- Canada 

Finnish Vikings
- Finland / Aland Isl.

Danish Vikings 
-
Denmark 
- British Isles 

Miscellaneous 
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The Vikings accomplished great achievements in the fields of navigation and seamanship, and it is amazing how they managed to cross the North Atlantic using only simple navigational aid (without a compass) and in constant struggle against heavy storms. Despite the circumstances the passage quickly became a routine job for the sailors. Normally the journey started in southern Norway, crossing over the North Sea to the Shetlands and Orkneys, then via the Faeroe Islands on to Iceland. The distance is c. 750 nautical miles, but most boats did the crossing within one week.  

Faeroe Islands 1982. Europa stamp showing a primitive chart of the Norse Vikings' sailing route from southern Norway to the Faeroes, Iceland, and occasionally also to Ireland.

Faeroe Islands 1982. Europa stamp. Traditional Viking habitat unearthed on the Faeroe Islands.

  • Faeroe Islands 1982. Europa stamp showing a primitive chart of the Norse Vikings' sailing route from southern Norway to the Faeroes, Iceland, and occasionally also to Ireland. 
  • Faeroe Islands 1982. Europa stamp. Traditional Viking habitat unearthed on the Faeroe Islands. 

The Vikings used several means for navigation, among others the Polar star (to determine North), the sun, the wind direction, currents, temperature, the colour of the sea, and the flight of birds, the latter to make land (read more in the Iceland section). 

Faeroe Islands 1991. Viking ship navigating after the star constellation Big Bear and the Polar Star.

This was supported by a primitive compass, manufactured of a flat, circular stone mounted on a handle through a hole in the center, and with a long and solid nail punched on the top. At the edge of the stone was punched a solid mark that was defined as "north". 

The sun always being "behind" the determining object (the nail), the shadow of the nail would at sunrise point towards west (outbound), and at sunset towards the east (homebound). This primitive compass was later refined in various ways. This compass is shown on the stamp immediately below (left). 

  • Faeroe Islands 1991. Europa Stamp. Viking ship navigating after the star constellation Big Bear and the Polar Star. 

Faeroe Islands 2002. Primitive compass, on the background of a map of the North Atlantic..Stamp #1 in a set of 3.

Faeroe Islands 2002. Viking holding a primitive compass. Stamp #2 in a set of 3. Faeroe Islands 2002. Viking ship. Stamp #3 in a set of 3.
  • Faeroe Islands 2002. Set of Viking stamps, largely oversized for a better view. The stamps also exist in a souvenir sheet (not shown here). 

    • Primitive compass, on the background of a map of the North Atlantic.

    • Viking holding a primitive compass. 

    • Viking ship. 

However, as little as Columbus was the first European to arrive in the Americas, the Vikings were not the first to land on the islands of the North Atlantic, which they found sparsely inhabited by Irish monks, of whom the most famous is St. Brendan. His discovery of the islands is commemorated on a joint issue between the Faeroe Islands, Iceland, and Ireland. Click here to read more about St. Brendan of Clonfert and his journeys -- you will find there also an image of the Faeroese souvenir sheet. (On the Iceland-page you will find an image of the Icelandic sheet). In 1992 the 500th anniversary of Christopher Columbus was celebrated world wide. The sheet immediately below is a joint issue between the Faeroe Islands and Iceland, celebrating "Discoveries".

The top stamp shows a viking ship pointing towards Greenland and Canada, and is dedicated to the Icelandic Viking discoverer Leif Eriksson, who was the first European to land in the Americas around 1000, some 500 years before Columbus. 

The bottom stamp shows the ship of Columbus "Santa Maria" pointing towards the Caribbean, where he landed in 1492. 

  • Faeroe Islands 1992. Joint issue with Iceland.  Souvenir sheet dedicated to "Discoveries". 

Faeroe Islands 1992. Joint issue with Iceland.  Souvenir sheet dedicated to "Discoveries".

Further stamps depicting the Viking period on the Faeroe Islands are the set of two Europa issues 1989, showing children's wooden toys (a small boat and an animal, and a set of 10 stamps featuring "Ormurin Langi" ("The Long Serpent"). Below are shown the first two stamps of the set. 

Faeroe Islands 2006. "The Long Serpent". Stamp #1 in a set of 10. Faeroe Islands 2006. "The Long Serpent". Stamp #4 in a set of 10.
  • Faeroe Islands 2006. Two stamps (#1 and #4) from the set of 10: "The Long Serpent". 

For further information on "The Long Serpent", please visit Postverk Foroya's account of the background of this set. The link is given below. See also Norway / Aland Islands

The saga of the Norwegian Vikings in 
Norway     Faeroe Islands     Iceland     Greenland     Canada     Isle of Man

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Copyrighted 14th January 2007. All Rights Reserved
Revised 15-feb-2007

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Contact me: Ann Mette Heindorff