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How the Ravens Helped the Vikings Find New Land

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Sandra was born in Toronto, but with a swedish mother. Came to Europe for university and ended up travelling the world.

The Vikings.

The Vikings are known for having sailed the world. It is commonly known that they founded Dublin, sailed to the mediterranean, raided northern africa, and nowadays I think we can almost say for sure that we know that they were the first europeans to sail to north america.

But at the same time, I think there is relatively little that we actually know about these people.

Pecular ideas..

It is widely known that they loved exploring and sailing the seas. They were tradesmen and plunderers, coming for merchandise and raids. Being half Viking myself, sometimes I actually don't know whether to like or dislike them..

But they seem to have had some pecularities just like all the other groups of people that has made a mark on the history maps. Recently I learned that they would have ravens with them on their ships. First I thought it was for luck, as the god Odin is often depicted with two ravens sitting on his shoulders. Huginn and Munnin was their names according to Norse mythology. But then I learned the real reason, and it is so smart, that I was a bit blown away by it.

They had a function.

The ravens actually had a function on the longboats, just like the sails and the oars.

What the Vikings would do, is to keep the birds on the boats to see if land was near or not. Raven is a bird that cannot swim, so it is completely dependant on land, or somewhere solid to put its feet. What the Vikings would do, is to have them fly away, as a binocular, and if the ravens saw land, they would shoot towards it, and the boats would follow them. If there was no land in sight, the birds would return to the boat, and for the Vikings it was just to sail on.


According to legend, it was this way that they found Iceland.

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I think it is incredibly clever, using a guide animal to "show you the way". It makes you wonder what we will discover next about these people.

Raven, Viking's help.

Raven, Viking's help.


MJ Dillon from Chicago, IL on May 26, 2020:

It's amazing how birds can help us if we just pay attention to them.

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