The Mediterranean Voyage of a Twelfth-Century Icelander

By Bruce E. Gelsinger, published May 1972


The paper explains the pilgrimage to Rome and Jerusalem, made by Nikolás Bergþórsson, monk of a North Iceland monastery, between 1154 and c. 1158, who described it in a manuscript, known as Leiđarvísir. In it, apart from religious aspects, he describes many social, linguistic, economic, mythological aspects, and details of every day happenings. Some interesting maps illustrate the paper. Even the part devoted to the Mediterranean is short, compared with the rest of the voyage; it furnishes valuable information about sailing methods used in the Mare Nostrum. He also details with great accuracy the distances between ports, and these, together with references to the coasts, similarly to a Sailing Directions, suggest to the author of the paper that the contents of Lo Compasso da navigare (c. 1250) was well known a century before.

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Filed under: Early Middle Ages
Subjects include: Miscellaneous

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