Pytheas and the Circumnavigation of Britain

PytheasIn about 325 BCE, Pytheas of Missalia conducted one of the first great voyages of discovery when he sets out into the land of the Celts to find the legendary island of Britain. In the process, he would circumnavigate the island – and even (according to some) – discover Iceland.

Below is a map showing the route of Pytheas on his journey. This does not show the overland route – which would have bypassed the Pillars of Hercules. It also shows some speculative routes to Iceland and into the Baltic Sea. The map may not be perfect, but it gives a decent look at Pytheas’ probably travel route.

Pytheas Route


While there is not a lot of information about Pytheas available, here’s a list of a few of the better resources that I found.


Statue of Pytheas outside the Palais de la Bourse, Marseilles.

All image courtesy of Wikipedia.

Erik the Red and Leif Erikson

The father and son team of Erik the Red and Leif Erikson represent the most famous Viking explorers. Erik would found the Greenland colony in the 980s, while Leif would become the first European to set foot on the North American continent – as well as establish a settlement.


This map gives an idea of the locations of various places in the Viking world – and the routes taken by Erik the Red and Leif Erikson. Map source: Wikipedia.


I used many sources, but some of the more recent books included Neil Oliver’s The Vikings: A New History as well as Vikings: The North Atlantic Saga, edited by William F. Fitzhugh and Elisabeth Ward.

For the Icelandic Sagas, the Icelandic Saga Database was awesome. It’s all free – so enjoy the fun.

Wikipedia has a lot of great information about our podcast:


The knarr was a cargo vessel used by the Vikings during this era. The ship was deeper and wider than the traditional Norse longship, and more suited to longer sea voyages.

This model can be found in the Hedeby Viking Museum in Germany.


Leif Erikson statue at the Minnesota State Capital in St. Paul. Source: Wikipedia.