L'ans aux Meadows, Newfoundland
As a child, they told us in school that the Vikings might have visited North America 500 years before Columbus. Back then there was no convincing proof. There were only the Icelandic “sagas” that described the Viking voyages of Leif Erickson and Eric the Red back about 1000 A.D. These sagas were passed on verbally for 300 years until they were written down by Norse Christian Monks about 1300 A.D.
The search for the site described in these sagas went on for over 200 years until the mounds on the Northern tip of Newfoundland were discovered in 1960. The archeological digs here made the case that the sagas were true.
They’ve done a nice job building sod huts that represent what the buildings may have looked like in the base camp established by the Vikings.
The archeological explorations have discovered evidence of iron working to build ship nails, spindles from a loom and a lost bronze clothing pin that nails totally down the Viking connection. They also found well preserved wood shavings in workshops where boats were constructed.
A beautiful river runs though the Viking camp which must have contained the bountiful salmon described in the saga. They can’t do dendrochronology because the area has been largely deforested over the years for firewood. However, with carbon dating they are pretty sure that the camp was established about 1000 A.D. (plus or minus 2 years) and was a going concern for several years.
They say that Greenland is only 650 miles from here as the crow flies. The Vikings probably took about 35 days to make the trip. They navigated about 1,300 miles by always keeping land in sight so they probably went from Greenland to Baffin Island to Labrador to here (the Northern tip of Newfoundland). The saga is consistent with geological features of Baffin Island and Labrador.
There is the natural wild wheat described in the saga, the river for salmon, the peat to build shelters and iron and coal. It’s a good place for a base camp. When the Vikings left here they burned the buildings which were made of peat over wood frames.
When you look at the mounds, you can easily imagine the Vikings forging iron, weaving wool, building boats, catching salmon and burning seal oil in smelly, smoky lamps. I’m convinced that this is the real deal. The voyage was as epic as the first landing on the Moon.