Leif Ericsson

Where was Vinland?

In the 1960's, the Norwegian explorer and writer Helge Ingstad and his archaeologist wife, Stine, decided to resolve the question of whether Vinland meant "Grassland" or "Wine-land?"

Following the sailing instructions outlined within the sagas, Ingstad ended up at L'Anse aux Meadows, a grassy expanse located on the northernmost tip of Newfoundland.

Excavations began in 1961 and revealed the remains of eight turf-walled houses. One of these was a longhouse measuring 22m by 15 m (72 ft by 50 ft), and contained five rooms along with a "great hall," and a smithy, where bog iron was smelted. Several of the houses had stone ember pits identical to those found in Norse houses in Greenland. Another artifact unearthed was a soapstone spindle whorl, similar to those discovered in Norse ruins in Greenland, Iceland, and Scandinavia. This find suggests that women as well as men were present at the site, which is also consistent with the sagas.

The land they found had fertile soil, abundant game resources for either fishing or hunting, and iron. The climate was mild and provided a stable environment for crops if they chose to raise them. Was this in fact Vinland? The question still stands, but we do know that this is undoubtedly the site of a Norse settlement from around AD 1000.

- 14. august 2004 -