L’Anse aux Meadows, Newfoundland: The only Viking settlement in North America
Copyright @ novascotiamiss
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.
Parks Canada, L'Anse aux Meadows National Historic Site
The reconstructions of three Norse buildings are the focal point of this archaeological site, the earliest known European settlement in the New World. The archaeological remains at the site were declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1978. Exhibits
Location of L'Anse aux Meadows and Greenland
Quite a distance from Greenland to L'Anse aux Meadows, Newfoundland.
Newfoundland Tourism Viking commercial
Another article about amazing things to do in Newfoundland
- Iceberg watching in Twillingate, Newfoundland
One of the world's best places to see icebergs is Twillingate, Newfoundland. The season to see bergs is between mid May and mid July.