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Old January 11th, 2012, 02:01 AM   #1
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Frisland: The Land That Time Forgot


Here's part of an essay I've been working on that people might find interesting.

Frisland: The Land That Time Forgot

Circa Anno 530 Kyng Arthur not only Conquered Iseland, Groenland, and all the Northern Iles compassing unto Russia, but even unto the North Pole (in manner) did extend his jurisdiction and sent Colonies thither, and unto all the isles between Scotland and Iseland, whereby yit is probable that the last-named Friseland Island is of Brytish ancient discovery and possession: and allso seeing Groeland beyond Groenland did receive their inhabitants by Arthur, it is credible that the famous Iland Estotiland was by his folke possessed.
Dr John Dee, on a map prepared in 1580 (Lucas, Annals of the Voyages)

No doubt politically motivated by his loyal service to Elizabeth I; John Dee, astrologer, magician, and sometime spy, is here claiming a British title-deed to the following lands: Iseland (Iceland) and Groenland (Greenland), plus the far more mysterious Friseland, Groeland, and Estotiland. He makes similar claims in his own diary entries of 28th November 1577, and 30th June 1578. The latter entry states, ‘I told Mr Daniel Roger and Mr Hackluyt... that King Arthur and King Maty, both of them did conquer Gelinda, lately called Friseland.’ He also urged these same claims on the Queen.

The island of Frisland (to use its more usual spelling), plus Estotiland, had first come to public attention in 1558 when a certain Nicolo Zeno published a map and accompanying narrative in Venice. These described a voyage to the far north made in 1380 (an error; the true year was 1390) by an ancestor of his, also called Nicolo Zeno. This earlier Nicolo had been forced by a storm to land upon the island of Frisland. The accompanying map shows it to be roughly oblong in shape, with its longer axis aligned north to south. It is somewhat smaller, though wider, than Iceland, and is situated pretty much where the Rockall Plateau is today. The ruler of Frisland in 1380 (i.e. 1390) was named Zichmni, and he befriended Nicolo, recognising the skill of the Venetian sailors. With their help Zichmni was able to extend his sway over many neighbouring islands, and in return Nicolo was made a knight. Nicolo wrote to his brother Antonio in Venice, who came and joined him, and both lived on Frisland until 1384 (probably, in fact, 1396), when Nicolo died. Antonio stayed there another ten years in the service of Zichmni. In 1394 (correctly 1406) Antonio returned to Venice, telling his tale to a third brother, Carlo.

The Zeno Map shows a smaller island to the north-west of Frisland called Icaria, and further west still is Estotiland. Estotiland is only shown in part, and in Dr Dee’s time it was identified as Nova Scotia. To its south is another partial coastline, labelled Drogio, which is probably what we now call the Massachussets Bay. Dr Dee’s Groeland does not appear on the map, and seems to be his name for Baffin Island (given its position as beyond Greenland). To the east of Frisland the map shows the familiar coasts of Norway, Denmark, Scotland, and the Shetlands (labelled Estland), though between the last two is a small island called Podanda. It should be stated first of all that there is nothing inherently improbable about a European voyage to Nova Scotia and Massachussets prior to Columbus. We know that the Vikings came very close, and established a settlement on Newfoundland around the year 1000. It is strongly suspected by some researchers that northern mariners regularly made this trip, with Bristol as their main port of departure. The real mystery of the Zeno account is this: what on earth was Frisland, and where has it gone? From the sixteenth century onwards Frisland began to appear like a ghost on all published maps. Its location was always south of Iceland, but nobody ever quite knew where. Speculation arose as to whether it had been partially submerged since 1380 (correctly 1390).

In 1578 a much smaller island was spotted in Frisland’s approximate location. On 12th September in that year Richard Newton, captain of the Emmanuel (one of fifteen ships that were part of an expedition led by Sir Martin Frobisher), sighted this island and named it Buss Island, after the type of ship he was sailing in. His report runs:

The Busse, of Bridgewater, as she came homeward, to ye South Eastwarde of Freseland, discoured a great Ilande in the latitude of _ Degree, which was neuer yet founde before, and sayled three dayes alongst the coast, the land seeming to be fruiteful, full of woods, and a champion countrie.

Eleven years later Thomas Wiars described Buss Island as surrounded by a vast icefield, which somewhat contradicts the earlier description. Then, on 1st July 1606, Buss Island was spotted by James Hall, who described it as lying more westward than had hitherto been supposed. Yet, despite various attempts to find it, Buss Island remained elusive until 1671, when Captain John Shepherd not only sighted it, but actually explored it. He described it as being abundant in fish, but otherwise barren and low-lying.

On 13th May 1675 King Charles II granted ownership of Buss Island to the Hudson’s Bay Company, which had been founded in 1670 to exploit the mineral, trade, and fishing rights of various northern territories (it still exists today as a Canadian corporation). Presumably, Charles felt that he had the right to do this by inheritance from King Arthur, who had supposedly conquered the northern lands over a thousand years earlier, though it should also be stated that the Scottish Crown had claimed overlordship of these northern waters since 1476. Charles II, of course, was king of both England and Scotland. The Hudson’s Bay Company had paid the king 65 to take charge of the island, but in 1676 they failed to find it, and in 1720 applied for a grant of 378,000 from the government to mount an exploratory expedition (amongst other things). This request was very quickly turned down. Yet in 1770 there were those who accused the company of keeping the true location of Buss Island a secret, in order to maintain financial control over its trade. So in 1791 the company announced that as far as they were concerned, ‘no such Island is now above Water if ever it was.’ Much later, in 1934, the company stated, ‘it was a mythical island in the North Atlantic.’

Taken together, these various reports of Frisland and Buss Island tell a coherent story. In 1380 (correctly 1390) Frisland was large enough to support towns, agriculture, and a ruler named Zichmni who was powerful enough to conquer neighbouring islands. By 1578 it had shrunk to a much smaller island, which nevertheless was still fruitful and had woodlands. In 1589 (just eleven years later) it was surrounded by a vast icefield, and by 1671 it was barren and low-lying. It was never seen again. Many explorers came to the obvious conclusion: namely, that it had gradually subsided into the sea. Unless, perchance, a tiny speck of it still survives as Rockall. Rockall was annexed by the United Kingdom in 1972; it is the ultimate ‘remote Scottish island’, lying about as far west of Scotland as Norway is east. Being only a few yards in diameter it is completely uninhabitable.

The Zeno Map

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Old January 11th, 2012, 03:16 AM   #2

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Nice Nyneve , take a look at this when you have some time The Oera Linda book from a manuscript of the thirteenth century. The original Frisian text as ...

what book did you get the information from , if you dont mind me asking ,i would like to read it .
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Old January 11th, 2012, 03:25 AM   #3
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Originally Posted by ib-issi View Post
Nice Nyneve , take a look at this when you have some time The Oera Linda book from a manuscript of the thirteenth century. The original Frisian text as ...

what book did you get the information from , if you dont mind me asking ,i would like to read it .
The major source is Phantom Islands of the Atlantic, Donald Johnson.

I've heard of the Oera Linda book. That's the one that describes a sunken land in the North Sea called "Atland", isn't it?
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Old January 11th, 2012, 03:46 AM   #4

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Very interesting. Learned something.
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Old January 11th, 2012, 03:47 AM   #5
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Very interesting. Learned something.
Thanks.
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Old January 11th, 2012, 03:50 AM   #6

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Yup , thats the one , like your essay it talks about land or lands that are sinking , and like your paragraph 2 mentioning GeLinda ( poss Genus Linda ) , Atha is an Indo-European word meaning Friend , and the ethos was according to oera linda that they did not believe in slavery , and when they conquered other people they did not enslave them , this seems to have been a belief in karma and that their god Wr-Alda would give them over to their enemies to live as slaves , if they treated people that way ,... i think its an interesting read ! thanks for book title , i will look out for it .
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Old January 11th, 2012, 04:05 AM   #7

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Quote:
Originally Posted by Nyneve View Post
The major source is Phantom Islands of the Atlantic, Donald Johnson.

I've heard of the Oera Linda book. That's the one that describes a sunken land in the North Sea called "Atland", isn't it?
I've got that book in my library [in Italian translation], I did find it very interesting too. To follow the history of a land in the middle of the ocean which has been thought to be real for centuries and then seeing it disappearing from the maps is a "historical curiosity" which deserves a bit of time reading that book.
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Old January 11th, 2012, 04:12 AM   #8
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Originally Posted by ib-issi View Post
Yup , thats the one , like your essay it talks about land or lands that are sinking , and like your paragraph 2 mentioning GeLinda ( poss Genus Linda ) , Atha is an Indo-European word meaning Friend , and the ethos was according to oera linda that they did not believe in slavery , and when they conquered other people they did not enslave them , this seems to have been a belief in karma and that their god Wr-Alda would give them over to their enemies to live as slaves , if they treated people that way ,... i think its an interesting read ! thanks for book title , i will look out for it .
Gelinda was the name John Dee used for Frisland, which is also interesting because Frisland itself sounds a lot like Friesland, where the Oera Linda is from. It also, I believe, describes an ancient matriarchal civilisation.
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Old January 11th, 2012, 04:13 AM   #9
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I've got that book in my library [in Italian translation], I did find it very interesting too. To follow the history of a land in the middle of the ocean which has been thought to be real for centuries and then seeing it disappearing from the maps is a "historical curiosity" which deserves a bit of time reading that book.
Could it have actually been based on something real, I wonder?
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Old January 11th, 2012, 04:32 AM   #10

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Originally Posted by Nyneve View Post
Could it have actually been based on something real, I wonder?
I cannot exclude a misinterpretation, a misunderstanding of something real.

An hypothesis:

I would remember that before of the introduction of naval chronographs the calculation of the longitude after days and days of navigation [without the visual reference of a coast at the horizon] was quite impossible.

The estimates of the sailors can have put the same coast [of the same isle] at two different longitudes, so that some of these "ghost isles" perhaps were real isles put on the wrong place on the map because of mistakes of calculation of longitude by sailors.
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