|Norwegian Vikings on the Faeroe Islands|
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.
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).
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".
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.
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.
Sources and links:
Microsoft Encarta 2002.
National Geographic Denmark Special Issue No. 1, 2001 (in Danish).
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