This post on Dieppe is my last on the Alabaster Coast (Côte d'Albâtre) in Normandy. Sheltered between two high cliffs, Dieppe stretches on either side of the river Arques as it empties into the Atlantic. Seaside and tourist resort of the Alabaster coast valued by the English and Parisians, the town has conserved very few architectural souvenirs of its golden age. Dieppe is sometimes called the Viking town. It traces its history as a human settlement and port back to the arrival of the Vikings on this coast at the beginning of the tenth century AD. Of course, there were other people living in these parts before then, and the Romans passed this way before the Vikings. But the Romans did not leave such important traces of their occupation here as they did elsewhere. The Vikings, from Scandinavia, settled in and around Dieppe because of the hospitable harbour they found for their ships at the river estuary that cuts through a forbidding line of cliffs. The name Dieppe derives from the Viking term “djepp”, meaning “deep”.
They have a nice collection of navigational instruments at the French Maritime Museum, so I thought I would share some with you. The little gadget shown above is called a ship log, and it is a way of determining the speed of the boat through water. This is the evolved form of throwing a chip of wood overboard and seeing how far it goes in a few seconds. In the above picture you can see a thirty second sandglass. The idea is to throw it overboard, let it float there for 30 seconds, while the ship moves away. The line has knots on it every so often and thus you can measure the speed of the boat.