Reply To: King Canute’s use of ships designed by Vikings in the English Navy

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    I agree that it would be amazing to find that the Vikings had got to South America – Rollo’s kin out of Paris via Normandy – then maybe the Canaries or Africa – but what a journey! They did make long trips – to Kiev and Turkey for example – and of course Greenland (see below) and what is now USA (L’Anse aux Meadows) – and now Canada.

    However, I have also studied the lone sailor technique called Immrama (small boat, sheep and bible – and abandon your self to God’s providence) where the monk and the short-tailed sheep went from Ireland to the Orkneys and Shetlands and then to Iceland for the summer. Not every monk made it alive but some did and they left the sheep to breed and flocks increased while they were away so there was enough food to take two monks next time.

    I have also been to Greenland and visited the Viking church and have taken photos of it. It is at the end of a fjord in wild country and you can imagine the attacks by the Skraelings and the fading of hope (The Frozen Echo) after the wedding guests were stuck there for so many winters. I think that marriage by handfasting (mores danico)(right-handed rather than left concubinage) was devoutly to be wished. If your husband went to Greenland and was frozen in for three years you’d probably want to fall for someone else to help look after the children. It would be an echo of the Greek tragedies for you to handfast to a new man and then see your husband come home after three long years. Especially if he found you in bed!

    I commend The Frozen Echo to you. I also encourage you to go to Greenland and Spitzbergen – both great! We sailed up the coast of Baffin Land and the sea was the colour and consistency of Venetian glass, lustrous, green-blue and smooth with bergs every now and then. The bergs at Cape Farewell were huge as they were at Ilullissat. We went up on the ice cap by helicopter – awesome. I also recommend you reading the voyage of Bill Tilman who sailed to Greenland in his yacht.

    I lived in Oslo for three years and visited the museums to see the Viking ships and went to Falmouth last year for the Vikings at Maritime Museum – and Canute’s show is coming up in March. I am writing a book on the Marriages and betrothals of Harold Godwinson so will include sections on Viking and Saxon navies. Bill Flint has now shown that Edith Swan-Neck’s father was Thorkell Havi so what with Earl Godwin helping Canute and Thorkell being young Canute’s battle-master – it was a right Royal Viking time before 1066! The Normans spoilt it all.

    Canada = Baffin Land – extract:

    ‘As reported in the November issue of National Geographic magazine (2012), Sutherland first caught wind of another possible Viking way station in 1999, when she spotted two unusual pieces of cord that had been excavated from a Baffin Island site by an earlier archaeologist and stored at the Canadian Museum of Civilization in Gatineau, Quebec.

    Explorer Sutherland noticed that the strands bore little resemblance to the animal sinew Arctic hunters twisted into cordage. The cords turned out to be expertly woven Viking yarn, identical in technique to yarn produced by Viking women living in Greenland in the 14th century.

    Always interest in anything to do with pre 1066 boats. cheers David