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Olaus Magnus and the ‘Compass’ on Hvitsark

  • Kirsten A. Seaver

Three textual works by Olaus Magnus (1490–1557) hold the key to the ‘compass’ on his invented island of Hvitsark, shown on his 1539 Carta marina. Although Olaus had little general understanding of the magnetic compass or of navigation in the Far North, he evidently did not intend the navigational device he drew on Hvitsark to represent a magnetic compass, but a sundial. His muddled ideas about the relationship between 12 wind-directions and direction-finding at sea by means of such a dial appear related to his second-hand information about a gnomonic navigational device used by the medieval Norse.

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The Journal of Navigation
  • ISSN: 0373-4633
  • EISSN: 1469-7785
  • URL: /core/journals/journal-of-navigation
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