L’Anse Aux Meadows

            Located on the northernmost tip of Newfoundland’s Great Northern Peninsular are the remains of the oldest European settlement in North America.  Vinland, as it was named by the Vikings (also known as the Norse) because of the wild grapes that they found in the region, had settled there in 1000 AD.   The Vikings had originally settled in Iceland in 900AD, then explored Greenland, Baffin Island and places farther west.   Searching for fertile ground, they built a settlement for the winter in “Vinland”. 

            There were stories that preserved the history of this settlement, but they were not recorded until many years later.  Scholars searched for the settlement but could never find its location and it was believed to be in the southeastern coast of the United States.  In 1960, a Norwegian explorer and his wife searched the coast from New England northward and with the assistance of a local resident, they found mounds near L’Anse Aux Meadows. 

            From 1961 to 1968, they excavated the area and unearthed foundations of eight sod buildings...the type that the Norse built in Iceland.  They uncovered artifacts that were of Norse design and construction and especially iron works that were not then known to the Indians in North America.   The site is believed to have been occupied for about five or ten years by up to 100 men and women.   This was a base used by the Norse who would travel south to the islands for rum and other trading goods.   

            Today there are the remains of the building foundations, three buildings accurately reconstructed, a replica of a sailing ship and furnishings and furniture that depicts the way life was in that time.  Costumed staff members also lectured and gave demonstrations on the preparation of food, hunting and sewing.  There are animal skins and iron cooking utensils which indicate just how Spartan life was for the Norse and how hardy these people had to be to travel so far and accomplish to maintain a lifestyle in what is believed to be the site of Vinland. 

 

Clockwise from the upper left:

A replica of a house built by the Norsemen at L'Anse Aux Meadows, the shore at L'Anse Aux Meadows in Gunner's Cove and the monument marking L'Anse Aux Meadows