It has just been in the news that the Vikings visited the Americas exactly 1,000 years ago. The place they landed as L'Anse aux Meadows in Newfoundland in Canada. Today L'Anse aux Meadows is the archeological site and museum of where the Norse built their settlement - the first European settlement in the Americas.
L'Anse aux Meadows is remote, situated on the northernmost tip of Newfoundland. It was discovered in the 1960s and is today a UNSECO world heritage listed site and a National Historic Site of Canada. The Vikings also settled Greenland for hundreds of years before they died out or left, today intrepid travelers can see the Norse ruins in Greenland too.
The Story Of Viking Colonization of North America
The Norse colonization of North America is recorded in the Icelandic sagas. They were led by Leif Erikson but their settlement on the continent wasn't to last. Unfortunately today we have more questions than we have answers. But it is clear that they did arrive in North American, at this site in particular and it was exactly 1,000 years ago. It remains the only confirmed Norse site in North America.
- Leif Erikson: Thought To Be The First European In North America
- Date: Exactly 1,000 Years Ago In 1,021
- Location: Remote In Newfoundland, Canada
- L'Anse aux Meadows: The Only Confirmed Norse Site In North America
Today the site spans some 7991 hectares and it contains the ruins of eight buildings. These buildings were made of sod over a wooden frame. They also resemble the Viking structures in Greenland.
- Buildings: There Are The Remains Of Eight Norse Buildings
There is evidence of iron production and other artifacts that have been identified are bronze, bones, and stone. One of the most notable discoveries was a bronze cloak pin that is decidedly Norse in style. Wood found here had been cleanly cut with a metal instrument, likely an ax - Native Americas did not have metal instruments.
It has just been discovered that they were in the Americas exactly 1,000 years ago in 1,021 AD. according to the New York Times. This was done by analyzing the imprint of a rare solar storm in tree rings from wood recovered from this Norse site.
And the results came back that it was from exactly the year 1,021 AD. That would also mean at the Vikings came to North America towards the end of the Viking Age which is traditionally defined as 793 to 1066 AD
- Viking Age: 793 to 1066 AD
That means the Vikings were in North America 471 years before Christopher Columbus.
Visiting The L'Anse aux Meadows Today
Today as one visits the site seven of the Norse buildings are on display. Additionally north of the Norse remain are reconstructed buildings that form part of an interpretive display for the historic site.
While remote, there is still easy road access to the site.
- Hours Open: 9 a.m. to 5 p.m
- Season: Open 31 May to 1 October 2021
- Fees: Adults: $11.90 CAD - $9.50 USD) | Youth: Free
- See: Reconstructed Viking Buildings, Excavated Artifacts, And A Viking Boat Replica
The visitor center has various engaging videos and exhibits on Viking life as well as the archeology of the site itself. One can see the original excavated artifacts on display as well as a replica seafaring boat built to 2/3 scale.
Tours And Viking Sagas At The Site: Sagas and Shadows
It is something of a living museum with resident "Vikings" ready to show visitors around the reconstructed Viking encampment. On these tours, visitors will hear the Vinland Sagas in the main hall. They see demonstrations of Norse iron forging and textile weaving. Visitors can even try them out for themselves.
- Hear: The Viking Sagas At The Site
Visitors gather around the "skáli" or kitchen in one of the reconstructed sod buildings and hear all about the heroic and tragic tales of the Viking Saga. In the room, one will feel the warmth of the kitchen fire as one drinks in good old Viking tradition (non-alcoholic).
- No: The Vikings Did Not Wear Horned Helmets (Sorry)
One will learn the Norse myths and how Eirik the Red founded the first Norse settlement in Greenland. Some of the sagas and lighthearted and humorous. One will hear all the favorite Viking myths and stories - like how Thor got his hammer and how Thor and Loki got it back again.
This is an archeological museum where visitors not only learn about the Viking settlement in North America but also the everyday lives of the Vikings. One will learn much more about their everyday lives and how they lived. While many famously raided, most were traders and farmers.
Newfoundland is a very different part of Canada and is known to have some very unique accommodations. Newfoundland is worth visiting just for its unique accommodations.