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L’Anse aux Meadows, Newfoundland: The only Viking settlement in North America

Updated on June 11, 2012

Copyright @ novascotiamiss

Two Viking tribesmen at L'Anse aux Meadows.
Two Viking tribesmen at L'Anse aux Meadows. | Source
Entrance to L'Anse aux Meadows National Historic Site
Entrance to L'Anse aux Meadows National Historic Site | Source
Replica of blacksmith shop.
Replica of blacksmith shop. | Source
It's cozy in Leif Ericson's living room.
It's cozy in Leif Ericson's living room. | Source

Vinland, where the Vikings roamed 1’000 years ago

Most of us don’t know that the Vikings on their open boats came all the way from Greenland to North America over 1’000 years ago. I wasn’t aware of it until our visit to the mystical island of Newfoundland. Technically speaking Greenland belongs to the North American Continent but when you look at the world map, it's an island far away from Newfoundland, Canada. The L’Anse aux Meadows National Historic Site on the northernmost tip of Newfoundland was only discovered in the 1960’s by the Norwegian archeologists Helge & Anne Stine Ingstad.They were convinced that the “Vinland” described in old Viking legends happened to be here. This was the place where Viking tribesman Leif Ericson had established a settlement. Nobody believed the Ingstads until they found evidence in 1960.

For us it was a long drive up the coast to this desolate and windblown spot. We passed many rugged pebble beaches and rusted shipwrecks along the way. A few old fishing cabins scattered here and there but apart from extensive road construction no sign of life. Even in peak Summer the temperature hovered around 10° C. and it was foggy, damp and cold. Not very inviting we found. The only vegetation covering the thin soil were berry bushes with exotic names like bake apple, partridge berry, wild blueberry, squashberry, and crowberry. Our tent nearly got blown away on the very first night and the only creatures that were our constant companions were bugs. The only safe spot was a cozy little restaurant that offered simple meals and delicious home-baked pies. So why on earth would the Vikings have chosen this place for their settlement? Nobody can say for sure. All we know today is that they settled here but didn’t stay for long.

Parks Canada established a National Historic Site featuring replicas of various dwellings, exhibits of ancient tools, Viking boats etc. Leif Ericson and other Viking villagers are re-enacted by local people telling stories about the life of the Vikings and if asked they are also quite willing to talk about their real life outside of their acting jobs. Most are local fishermen and artists who could hardly scratch a living if it were not for the tourists from all over the world. In Summer they are Vikings and in Winter Newfies. Newfies (Newfoundlanders) are very friendly and talkative so unless you have plenty of time on your hands, don't get into a conversation with them. Oh, and I must also warn you that they have a very odd dialect, so it's very difficult to understand them. They have the ability to talk without breathing, so unless you interrupt them in mid sentence you won't get a word in.

Like the Vikings we didn’t stay for long, the weather was just too awful. Pity about the thick fog and drizzle that engulfed the whole area and made our planned whale and iceberg watching trip impossible.

Viking boat

Would you dare to row from Greenland to Canada in an open boat like this?
Would you dare to row from Greenland to Canada in an open boat like this? | Source

Location of L'Anse aux Meadows and Greenland

A markerL'Anse aux Meadows -
L'Anse aux Meadows, NL A0K, Canada
get directions

Quite a distance from Greenland to L'Anse aux Meadows, Newfoundland.

Newfoundland Tourism Viking commercial


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    • Infobrowser profile image

      Infobrowser 5 years ago from UK

      This was an interesting read. It's fascinating to learn how far the Vikings actually travelled. Thanks.

    • mwilliams66 profile image

      mwilliams66 5 years ago from Left Coast, USA

      Another great by you on Newfoundland. Very interesting. I would absolutely love to travel there one day. This is thanks in part to your writing and photos.

    • mecheshier profile image

      mecheshier 5 years ago

      Wow.. Great Hub. I love history and exploring new places to visit. Your Hub is inspiring. Vote up on Interesting. Thank you