In the fourth century BCE the Greek explorer Pytheas of Massilia claimed to have sailed six days north of Britain until he reached a land he called Thule. His account of the journey has been lost and the exact location of his Thule remains a mystery. Some think he may have sailed to Greenland, others think Thule may have been Iceland or Norway. He may have only heard of a frozen land with six months of daylight and six months of night. In any event he introduced into our language the word Thule: a cold place beyond human habitation, a place on the edge of a frozen sea, a place not found on any map.
In 1910 Thule acquired a geographic location when Knud Rasmusen gave the name to the location of a trading station and settlement he established on Greenland’s west coast. In the 1950’s the name Thule became even more familiar as the location of the Thule Air Base. Both of these locations have been renamed, and the Thule settlement moved farther north along the coast.
The term Ultima Thule has come to mean the farthest north geographic place on earth. To reach Ultima Thule is to stand at the edge of the known world, and my book Beyond the Edge is the story of those who attempted that journey.
Interested in learning more about attempts to reach Thule? Get your copy of Beyond the Edge today!