The Vikings were Scandinavian sea-warriors of the 8th to 10th century AD who raided and settled on the coasts of Britain and western Europe. They also sailed as far as Constantinople, Africa, Greenland, and were the first real discoverers of America. The first main attack on Britain occurred in the reign of Alfred the Great, who was the king of Wessex, in 885 AD. But something else happened that year which has never been satisfactorily explained. Shortly before the invasion of England, the vikings sent about a dozen ships to survey the coast, and on one of these ships there was a Norse map-maker named Olaf, who made very accurate maps of England's eastern coast. When Olaf's ship was crossing the North Sea one evening, one of the Norse warriors on board shouted out and pointed to the thing in the waters about a mile ahead.
  It was a dark shape on legs, and it was blowing out a jet of yellow flame into the air. Olaf was spellbound. He thought it looked like some sea monster, and told the viking crew to keep on rowing, but the men were naturally afraid. When the ship was about half a mile away from the monster, Olaf made a sketch of what he could see by the light of the full moon: an enormous black body wider than five viking longships placed end to end, and taller than any castle he'd seen. The body was supported by 
 six or more legs, and above the body, the monster seemed to have 4 necks with horns at the end.From one of these necks, the fierce jet of flame spurted out. Olaf warned the crew that the monster in the waters was obviously a dragon. As brave as the vikings were, they were very superstitious, and all the ships turned around and the Norsemen made the voyage home with an incredible tale to tell.
 As Olaf looked back at the monster through the mists of the North Sea, he saw the flame flicker out, and the dragon seemed to disappear. Olaf assumed that the monster had now submerged beneath the waves.  In the 1970s, historians discovered Olaf's sketch of the dragon he'd encountered in the North Sea, and were shocked to see that the monster looked exactly like an offshore oil rig. An offshore drilling rig was supported by many legs, and had a jet of flame continually burning at the end of a tall chimney. The necks Olaf counted would probably have been the cranes and derricks with their pulleys and winches. It was as if Olaf had seen a phantom of the future; an oil rig that was one thousand  years away in the future North Sea. Stranger still, it doesn't seem to have been a one-way timeslip, because in 1988, six workers on an oil rig in the North Sea saw a line of phantom viking ships sailing by in the moonlight one summer's night. As the men watched, the ghostly convoy of ships faded away...


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