L’Anse aux Meadows Viking Settlement Newfoundland
L’Anse aux Meadows Viking Settlement in Newfoundland and Labrador.
August 15, 2019
St. Anthony, Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada.
Not Larry is sick with a bad head-cold, has sore ribs, and a stiff neck. She is a wreck, so we had a sleep in today. Her body requires some rest…
The countryside up in the Northern Peninsula of Newfoundland and Labrador is so beautiful. The only problem is that there is never any mobile phone coverage so uploading articles is difficult in these parts. It was actually easier to find internet in Africa three years ago than it is to find it today on the northern peninsula of Newfoundland and Labrador in Canada. But, limited internet is a good thing. And, the people are really great.
We got packed up and moving towards L’Anse Aux Meadows, but before we arrived there was a giant iceberg dead ahead in the ocean. It was a giant iceberg of titanic proportions and I have never encountered one before. A 20,000-year-old block of freshwater ice had come to warmer temperatures to retire and disintegrate. It almost looked enchanting in some way as we stared at it from the edge of the water on the top of the peninsula. This is also where the Vikings were the first Europeans to arrive in North America somewhere between the year 998 and 1000. This point is where the first European exploration of the Americas began. We headed to the L’Anse Aux Meadows historical interpretative center to the site of the ruins. It was $11 per person to enter.
Throughout the exhibit, Scandinavians of the medieval period are referred to as Norse The word is derived from norrænn tunga – Old Norse, their language. A thousand years ago, most Norse people were farmers and traders, but raiding became a common way to gain wealth and fame. The term viking, Old Norse for raider or pirate, is properly used only to describe men who were engaged in the raiding. Be that as it may, the period from 800 to 1050 is often called the Viking Age. Similarly we live in the Space Age, but few of us are astronauts.”
– “Coasting Across the Atlantic
The Norse could accurately determine latitude (how far north or south they were), but not longitude (how far east or west), so they tended to sail with land in sight whenever possible. By coasting like this, they could easily navigate around Europe, but it became more hazardous as they explored farther into the North Atlantic. By geographic chance, landmasses lay like stepping-stones between northern Europe and North America.”
– “…For Aboriginal peoples long before and after the Norse, this was a regular camp for fishing and other activities – a familiar camping site along heir seasonal travel routes, at the heart of their home territory. For the Vikings this was not home, but a precarious over-wintering and repair station at the fringe of the known world. The five to ten years that the Norse used their camp 1,000 years ago was a brief interlude in the long history of this place.”
100,000 years ago, man set out from the starting point in Africa, spreading out across Europe, and Asia, crossing to North America on the Beringia land bridge, and from there they spread out across North America. When the vikings arrived at L’Anse Aux Meadows which they had previuosly named Vínland, the would have certainly encountered the indigenous peoples at some point over the next ten years of exploring.
When that encounter happened, the encirclement of the earth had been completed with the meeting of those two worlds that started out together in Africa 100,000 years earlier.
That is the most interesting thing that has been brought to my attention in a very long time.
In 1960, Norwegian explorer Helge Ingstad and his archaeologist wife, Anne Stine Ingstad, were certain from the lay of the ruins under the earth that L’Anse Aux Meadows had been a viking settlement. In 1961 excavation began. The locals of the area of Newfoundland had known about the site for years but they assumed it was an indigenous camp as indigenous occupation in the area went back 6,000 years. The harp seal arrives in abundance on the shores of L’Anse Aux Meadows and that hunt is what kept the aboriginal peoples coming back. Perhaps that is what initially allured the vikings to the same place as well.
– A sharpening stone.
– A stone oil lamp.
– A broken bone knitting-needle and a spindle.
– One hundred broken nails.
Iron work first made its mark in the middle east about 4,000 years ago, and the Norse were skilled at smelting about 1,500 years before they arrived at L’Anse Aux Meadows on ships waterproofed by wool dipped in tar. The vikings would be the first to do iron work in the Americas. Bog-ore was abundant in the region to make iron though it was fairly lousy as only 1/10th of the material is workable. They vikings certainly recognized the abundance of bog-ore as well that likely drew them onto the shores of L’Anse Aux Meadows. Whatever the case, the vikings arrived about 500 years before Columbus gained fame for his effort. And Columbus is thought to have accomplished his mission using old viking and Chinese maps. So, that the vikings had made the trip a half of a millenium earlier is quite a feat. Personally, I find exploration quite exhilarating, but I am also not doing it from one of the four ores of a viking ship, paddling for weeks on end in the freezing north Atlantic. Those guys were a lot tougher than I and I find myself under the impression that I would not fare so well in a duel against even the weakest viking. Something also tells me I could not have won them over on charm and wit alone…
L’Anse Aux Meadows is a truly amazing place to visit and to have a brush with history. It is even more incredible when you think about how the entirety of history has been re-written with the finding of six small items. That is it, and history is a suddenly a newer old.
And then considering the thought about the meeting of the vikings and the indigenous peoples which completed 100,000 years of separation during exploration… That is quote a thought, and it was worth driving all of the way to L’Anse Aux Meadows just to have been given the opportunity to mentally process that situation… Wow…
Not Larry and I headed south after leaving the L’Anse Aux Meadows interpretive center to race for Woody Point, Newfoundland, where the Writers of Woody Point literary festival was taking place. Shelagh Rogers, who hosts the Next Chapter on CBC radio would be the host of the festival and I felt that she was an important person to have a conversation with. So, we drove fast to get down towards the bottom of the peninsula…
For the video of the Northern Peninsula, either click at the top or give this here a click: