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The Sagas | The Vineland Map | L'Anse Aux Meadows | What Happened

The scourge of North Western Europe, the Vikings, were also among of the greatest seafarers in the annuals of history. They fearlessly sailed the waters of the North Atlantic in open longboats in some of the worse weather, most dangerous conditions, and coldest water the world can offer. The question of how much of North America they explored, how many settlements they established and how long those settlements endured in North America are among the most intriguing and difficult to answer.

The key to the story of the Vikings in North America lies in the Viking Sagas which tell the story of the history of their people. Scandinavia was long a quite unknown area of Europe, which others had little contact with. Their Norwegian settlements had grown and spread along the coast and in the process they had developed and perfected the Viking long ship which was a marvel of the age in that it could travel long distances across the ocean by wind or manpower and hence enabled them to travel anywhere they pleased. In the 790's AD the Vikings, due to lack of land and a population explosion, began to strike

out upon the Western European landscape with terrifying attacks on the coasts of Britain, France and Ireland.

Then they came across the hostile North Atlantic through the cold and past the icebergs. They were in search of new lands to settle and resources to exploit. The landing of Leif Erikson around 1000 AD at L'Anse aux Meadows was the first contact between Europeans and North American natives that we are aware of. The settlement was discovered in the early 1960's and has been partially excavated and a replica settlement has been created for visitors to the site. Located on the Northwest tip o Newfoundland, the summers are not that warm and the Icebergs still drift into the bay. The natives were probably curious when the Vikings arrived and all indications point towards the development of a hostile relationship. The area was also popular among the natives before the Vikings arrived as indicated by archaeological findings. Several sagas about the era, the discovery of Vinland and the settlement, have been passed down orally and then in writing which offer an entertaining and enlightening picture of the story. Visit our Viking section and learn more about the sagas, the Vinland map controversy, and the mystery of their departure from America.