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The Boston Globe

World

Researchers say they may have found fabled sunstone

LONDON — A rough, whitish block recovered from an Elizabethan shipwreck may be a sunstone, the fabled crystal believed by some to have helped Vikings and other early seafarers navigate the high seas, researchers say.

In a paper published earlier this week, a Franco-British group argued that the Alderney Crystal — a chunk of Icelandic calcite found amid a 16th century wreck at the bottom of the English Channel — worked as a kind of solar compass, allowing sailors to determine the position of the sun even when it was hidden by heavy cloud, masked by fog, or below the horizon.

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