L'Anse aux Meadows (/ˈlænsi ˈmɛdoʊz/) is an archaeological site on the northernmost tip of the Great Northern Peninsula on the island of Newfoundland in the Canadian province of Newfoundland and Labrador. Archaeological evidence of a Norse presence was discovered at L'Anse aux Meadows in the 1960s. It is the only confirmed Norse or Viking site in North America outside of the settlements found in Greenland.
Dating to around the year 1000, L'Anse aux Meadows is widely accepted as evidence of pre-Columbian trans-oceanic contact. It is notable for being the only confirmed Norse site on mainland North America, its possible connection with Leif Erikson, and with the Norse exploration of North America. It was named a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1978.
|L'Anse aux Meadows|
Recreated Norse buildings at L'Anse aux Meadows
|Official name: L'Anse aux Meadows|
National Historic Site
|Designated||1978 (2nd session)|
|Region||Europe and North America|
|Official name: L'Anse aux Meadows National Historical Site of Canada.|
|Designated||28 November 1968|
Location of L'Anse aux Meadows in Newfoundland
L'Anse aux Meadows is a French-English name which can be translated as the bay with the grasslands. How the village itself came to be named "L'Anse aux Meadows" is not clear. A possibility is that "L'Anse aux Meadows" is a corruption of the French designation L'Anse aux Méduses, which means "Jellyfish Cove". The shift from Méduses to "Meadows" may have occurred because the landscape in the area tends to be open, with meadows.
Before the Norse arrived in Newfoundland, there is evidence of aboriginal occupations in the area of L'Anse aux Meadows, the oldest dated at roughly 6,000 years ago. None was contemporaneous with the Norse occupation. The most prominent of these earlier occupations were by the Dorset people, who predated the Norse by about 200 years.
The Norse settlement at L'Anse aux Meadows has been dated to approximately 1,000 years ago (carbon dating estimate 990–1050 CE), an assessment that tallies with the relative dating of artifact and structure types.
Today the area mostly consists of open, grassy lands, but 1000 years ago, there were forests that were convenient for boat-building, house-building and iron extraction. The remains of eight buildings (labeled from A–J) were found. They are believed to have been constructed of sod placed over a wooden frame. Based on associated artifacts, the buildings were identified as dwellings or workshops. The largest dwelling (F) measured 28.8 m × 15.6 m (94 ft × 51 ft) and consisted of several rooms. Three small buildings (B, C, G) may have been workshops or living quarters for lower-status crew or slaves. Workshops were identified as an iron smithy (building J) containing a forge and iron slag, a carpentry workshop (building D), which generated wood debris and a specialized boat repair area containing worn rivets.
Other things found at the site consisted of common everyday Norse items, including a stone oil lamp, a whetstone, a bronze fastening pin, a bone knitting needle and part of a spindle. Stone weights, which were found in building G, may have been part of a loom. The presence of the spindle and needle suggests that women as well as men inhabited the settlement.
There is no way of knowing how many people lived at the site at any given time; archaeological evidence of the dwellings suggest it had the capacity of supporting 30 to 160 people. The entire population of Greenland at the time was about 2,500, meaning that the L'Anse aux Meadows site was less than 10 percent of the Norse settlement on Greenland. As Julian D. Richards notes: "It seems highly unlikely that the Norse had sufficient resources to construct a string of such settlements."
Food remains included butternuts, which are significant because they do not grow naturally north of New Brunswick. Their presence probably indicates the Norse inhabitants traveled farther south to obtain them. There is evidence to suggest that the Norse hunted an array of animals that inhabited the area. These included caribou, wolf, fox, bear, lynx, marten, all types of birds and fish, seal, whale and walrus. This area is no longer rich in game due in large part to the harsh winters. This forces the game to either hibernate or venture south as the wind, deep snow, and sheets of ice cover the area. These losses made the harsh winters very difficult for the Norse people at L'Anse aux Meadows. This lack of game supports archaeologists' beliefs that the site was inhabited by the Norse for a relatively short time.
Eleanor Barraclough, a lecturer in medieval history and literature at Durham University, suggests the site was not a permanent settlement, instead a temporary boat repair facility. She notes there are no findings of burials, tools, agriculture or animal pens - suggesting the inhabitants abandoned the site in an orderly fashion.
He [i.e., the Danish king, Sven Estridsson] also told me of another island discovered by many in that ocean. It is called Vinland because vines grow there on their own accord, producing the most excellent wine. Moreover, that unsown crops abound there, we have ascertained not from fabulous conjecture but from the reliable reports of the Danes.
This excerpt is from a history Adam composed of the archbishops of Hamburg-Bremen who held ecclesiastical authority over Scandinavia (the original home of the Norse people) at the time.
Norse sagas are written versions of older oral traditions. Two Icelandic sagas, commonly called the Saga of the Greenlanders and the Saga of Erik the Red, describe the experiences of Norse Greenlanders who discovered and attempted to settle land to the west of Greenland, which they called Vinland. The sagas suggest that the Vinland settlement failed because of conflicts within the Norse community, as well as between the Norse and the native people they encountered, whom they called Skrælingar.
Modern archaeological studies have suggested that the L'Anse aux Meadows site was not Vinland itself, but rather was within a larger area called Vinland, which extended south from L'Anse aux Meadows to the St. Lawrence River and New Brunswick. The L'Anse aux Meadows site served as an exploration base and winter camp for expeditions heading southward into the Gulf of St. Lawrence. The settlements of Vinland mentioned in these two sagas, Leifsbudir (Leif Ericson) and Hóp (Norse Greenlanders), have both been claimed as the L'Anse aux Meadows site.
In 1960, the archaeological remains of Norse buildings were discovered in Newfoundland by the Norwegian husband-wife team of explorer Helge Ingstad and archaeologist Anne Stine Ingstad. Based on the idea that the Old Norse name "Vinland", mentioned in the Icelandic Sagas, meant "wine-land", historians had long speculated that the region contained wild grapes. Because of this, the common hypothesis before the Ingstads' theories was that the Vinland region existed somewhere south of the northern Massachusetts coast, because that is roughly as far north as grapes grow naturally. This is a false assumption. Wild grapes have grown and still grow along the coast of New Brunswick and in the St. Lawrence River valley of Quebec. . The archaeological excavation at L'Anse aux Meadows was conducted from 1960 to 1968 by an international team led by archaeologist Anne Stine Ingstad.
The Ingstads doubted this theory, saying "that the name Vinland probably means land of meadows...and includes a peninsula." This speculation was based on the belief that the Norse would not have been comfortable settling in areas along the American Atlantic coast. This dichotomy between the two views could have possibly been due to the two historic ways in which the first vowel sound of "Vinland" could be pronounced. The word used in the sagas clearly relates to grapes. In fact, the discovery of butternuts in the Norse stratum of the bog on the site by Parks Canada archaeologists proves that the Norse ventured at least as far as the coast of New Brunswick, where butternuts grow (and have grown for centuries) alongside wild grapes. The Norse thus would have had contact with the grapes of the sagas. 
In 1960, George Decker, a citizen of the small fishing hamlet of L'Anse aux Meadows, led Helge Ingstad to a group of mounds near the village that the locals called the "old Indian camp". These mounds covered with grass looked like the remains of houses. Helge Ingstad and Anne Stine Ingstad carried out seven archaeological excavations there from 1961 to 1968. They investigated the remains of eight buildings and the remains of perhaps a ninth. They determined that the site was of Norse origin because of definitive similarities between the characteristics of structures and artifacts found at the site compared to sites in Greenland and Iceland from around 1000 CE.
L'Anse aux Meadows is the only confirmed Norse site in North America outside of Greenland. It represents the farthest-known extent of European exploration and settlement of the New World before the voyages of Christopher Columbus almost 500 years later. Historians have speculated that there were other Norse sites, or at least Norse-Native American trade contacts, in the Canadian Arctic. In 2012, possible Norse outposts were identified in Nanook at Tanfield Valley on Baffin Island, as well as Nunguvik, Willows Island and the Avayalik Islands. Point Rosee, in southwestern Newfoundland, shown by National Geographic and the BBC as a possible Norse site, was excavated in 2015 and 2016, without any evidence of a Norse presence being found.
In November 1968, the Government of Canada named the archaeological site a National Historic Site of Canada. The site was also named a World Heritage Site in 1978 by UNESCO. After L'Anse aux Meadows was named a national historic site, the area, and its related tourist programs, have been managed by Parks Canada. After the first excavation was completed, two more excavations of the site were ordered by Parks Canada. The excavations fell under the direction of Bengt Schonbach from 1973 to 1975 and Birgitta Wallace, in 1976. Following each period of excavation, the site was reburied to protect and conserve the cultural resources.
The national historic site remains of seven Norse buildings are on display. North of the Norse remains are reconstructed buildings, built in the late 20th century, as a part of a interpretive display for the national historic site. The remains of an aboriginal hunting camp is also located at the site, southwest of the Norse remains. Other amenities at the site includes picnic areas, and a visitors centre.
Here [L'Anse aux Meadows] Norse expeditions sailed from Greenland, building a small encampment of timber-and-sod buildings …
L'Anse aux Meadows is the first and only known site established by Vikings in North America and the earliest evidence of European settlement in the New World. As such, it is a unique milestone in the history of human migration and discovery.
The name [L'Anse aux Meadows] is a French-English descriptive which can be translated as the bay with the grasslands.
Smelting hut—this small isolated building contained a furnace for producing iron from bog ore. A simple smelter stood in the middle of the floor. A charcoal kiln was nearby. The amount and type of slag found suggests that a single smelt took place. Very little iron was manufactured, only enough for making about 100 to 200 nails.
...Vinland was a country, not a place...
co-author Gørill Nilsen at Tromsø University in Norway came up with a way to 'shampoo' the oil out of the fibres without damaging them. Some fibres from a site on Baffin's southern coast were then subjected to the latest carbon-dating methods. The results were jaw-dropping, said Nilsen's co-author Kevin Smith of Brown University. 'They clustered into a period from about 100 AD to about 600-800 AD – roughly 1,000 years to 500 years before the Vikings ever showed up.'
… Michele Hayeur Smith of Brown University in Rhode Island, lead author of a recent paper in the Journal of Archaeological Science. Hayeur Smith and her colleagues were looking at scraps of yarn, perhaps used to hang amulets or decorate clothing, from ancient sites on Baffin Island and the Ungava Peninsula. The idea that you would have to learn to spin something from another culture was a bit ludicrous," she said. "It's a pretty intuitive thing to do.
[The 2015 and 2016 excavations] found no evidence whatsoever for either a Norse presence or human activity at Point Rosee prior to the historic period. … None of the team members, including the Norse specialists, deemed this area as having any traces of human activity.
Events from the 11th century in Canada.Anne Stine Ingstad
Anne Stine Ingstad (11 February 1918 – 6 November 1997) was a Norwegian archaeologist who, along with her husband Helge Ingstad, discovered the remains of a Viking (Norse) settlement at L'Anse aux Meadows in the Canadian province of Newfoundland and Labrador in 1960.Birgitta Wallace
Birgitta Linderoth Wallace (born 1944) is a Swedish–Canadian archaeologist specialising in Norse archaeology in North America. She spent most of her career as an archaeologist with Parks Canada and is best known for her work on L'Anse aux Meadows, currently the only widely-accepted Norse site in North America.
She received a Smith-Wintemberg Award from the Canadian Archaeological Association in 2015.Christopher Mitchelmore
Christopher Mitchelmore MHA (born October 23, 1985) is a Canadian politician, who was elected to the Newfoundland and Labrador House of Assembly in the 2011 provincial election. A member of the Liberal Party of Newfoundland and Labrador, he represents the electoral district of St. Barbe-L'Anse aux Meadows.Helge Ingstad
Helge Marcus Ingstad (30 December 1899 – 29 March 2001) was a Norwegian explorer. After mapping some Norse settlements, Ingstad and his wife Anne Stine, an archaeologist, in 1960 found remnants of a Viking settlement in L'Anse aux Meadows in the province of Newfoundland in Canada. They were thus the first to prove conclusively that the Icelandic/ Greenlandic Norsemen such as Leif Erickson had found a way across the Atlantic Ocean to North America, roughly 500 years before Christopher Columbus and John Cabot. He also thought that the mysterious disappearance of the Greenland Norse Settlements in the 14th and 15th centuries could be explained by their emigration to North America.Helge Ingstad died at Diakonhjemmet Hospital in Oslo at the age of 101.Leif Erikson
Leif Erikson or Leif Ericson (c. 970 – c. 1020) was a Norse explorer from Iceland. He was the first known European to have set foot on continental North America (excluding Greenland), before Christopher Columbus. According to the Sagas of Icelanders, he established a Norse settlement at Vinland, tentatively identified with the Norse L'Anse aux Meadows on the northern tip of Newfoundland in modern-day Canada. Later archaeological evidence suggests that Vinland may have been the areas around the Gulf of St. Lawrence and that the L'Anse aux Meadows site was a ship repair station.
Leif was the son of Erik the Red, the founder of the first Norse settlement in Greenland and of Thjodhild (Þjóðhildur), both of Norwegian origin. His place of birth is not known, but he is assumed to have been born in Iceland, which had recently been colonized by Norsemen mainly from Norway. He grew up in the family estate Brattahlíð in the Eastern Settlement in Greenland. Leif had two known sons: Thorgils, born to noblewoman Thorgunna in the Hebrides; and Thorkell, who succeeded him as chieftain of the Greenland settlement.Leifsbudir
Leifsbudir (Old Norse: Leifsbuðir) was a settlement, mentioned in the Greenland Saga, founded by Leif Eriksson in 1000 or 1001 in Vinland.
Later, 160 Greenlanders, including 16 women, established themselves there under the leadership of Norseman Thorfinn Karlsefni, the first European to come into contact with the local Skrælings, or American Indians. Karlsefni's son, Snorri Thorfinnsson, is believed to have been the first child of European descent to be born in North America outside of Greenland. However the settlement was a temporary one—the settlers were forced to abandon Leifsbudir due to a lack of trade with natives and return to Greenland.Leifsbudir is believed by some scholars (both historians and archaeologists) to have been located at L'Anse aux Meadows in Newfoundland.Médée Bay
Médée Bay is a natural bay off the island of Newfoundland in the province of Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada. It faces the modern village and archeological site of L'Anse aux Meadows.Newfoundland and Labrador Route 430
Route 430 is a 415 kilometer (258 mile) long paved highway that traverses the Great Northern Peninsula of Newfoundland and Labrador. The route begins at the intersection of Newfoundland and Labrador Route 1 (The Trans Canada Highway) in Deer Lake and ends in St. Anthony. Officially known as the "Great Northern Peninsula Highway", it has been designated as the "Viking Trail" since it is the main auto route to L'Anse aux Meadows, the only proven Viking era settlement in North America. It is the primary travel route in the Great Northern Peninsula and the only improved highway between Deer Lake and St. Anthony. It is the main access route to the Labrador Ferry terminal in St. Barbe.
The route passes along the western coast of Newfoundland Island with views of the Gulf of St. Lawrence and Strait of Belle Isle to the west and the Long Range Mountains to the east. It passes through or near several towns and villages including Rocky Harbour, Port au Choix, and St. Barbe as well as Gros Morne National Park.
Route 430 is the longest provincial route on the island portion of the province that branches out from Route 1.Newfoundland and Labrador Route 436
Route 436 is a highway on the Northern Peninsula of the Canadian province of Newfoundland and Labrador. Its southern terminus is an intersection on Route 430, and its northern terminus is at L'Anse aux Meadows, a world-famous archaeological site.Norse colonization of North America
The Norse colonization of North America began in the late 10th century AD when Norsemen explored and settled areas of the North Atlantic including the northeastern fringes of North America. Remains of Norse buildings were found at L’Anse aux Meadows near the northern tip of Newfoundland in 1960. This discovery aided the reignition of archaeological exploration for the Norse in the North Atlantic.The Norse settlements in the North American island of Greenland lasted for almost 500 years. L’Anse aux Meadows, the only confirmed Norse site on the North American mainland, was small and did not last as long. While voyages, for example to collect timber, are likely to have occurred for some time, there is no evidence of any lasting Norse settlements on mainland North America.Norstead (Newfoundland)
Norstead: A Viking Village and Port of Trade is a reconstruction of a Viking Age settlement. Located near L'Anse aux Meadows in Newfoundland, Norstead won the provincial Attractions Canada award for "Best New Attraction" in 2000, and was the centerpiece of a series of events held that year to commemorate the 1,000th anniversary of the Vikings' arrival. The site also houses a 54-foot replica Viking knarr which sailed from Greenland to L’Anse aux Meadows in 1998 with a crew of nine men.Quirpon, Newfoundland and Labrador
Quirpon is a small, picturesque community situated on the northern tip of the Great Northern Peninsula of Newfoundland in the province of Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada. It is the most northerly sheltered harbour on the island. This area was historically called "Ikkereitsock" by the Inuit.Historically a fishing village, its role in the fishery has declined since the northern cod moratorium of 1992.
Quirpon is a designated place in Canadian census data. Published statistics for the Quirpon DPL, which had a population of 248 in the Canada 2006 Census, also include the nearby village of Straitsview and the historical site at L'Anse aux Meadows.St. Barbe-L'Anse aux Meadows
St. Barbe-L'Anse aux Meadows is a provincial electoral district in Newfoundland and Labrador, which is represented by one member in the Newfoundland and Labrador House of Assembly. It was contested for the first time in the 2015 provincial election.
Nearby districts include Cartwright-L'Anse au Clair and Humber-Gros Morne.St. Barbe (electoral district)
St. Barbe is a defunct provincial electoral district for the House of Assembly of Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada. As of 2011, there were 7,064 eligible voters living within the district. The district was abolished in 2015 and replaced by St. Barbe-L'Anse aux Meadows.
An area along the west coast of the Great Northern Peninsula, the district has significant economic disparity among various communities. While most of the towns with Gros Morne National Park, and the Town of Port Saunders, which is a government service centre have fared very well economically, other Towns such as Bird Cove have lost more than 50% of their population since the 1992 cod moratorium.
The tourist season runs from late May until late October. While the principal tourism driver is Gros Morne National Park, the season continues into late October as this is a popular big game hunting destination for primarily US hunters. Up to a dozen big game outfitters operate from the area employing hundreds of guides, cooks and others.The area has fish processing plants in Woody Point, Rocky Harbour, Cow Head, River of Ponds, Port au Choix, New Ferrole and Black Duck Cove. Various species including shrimp, turbot and crab are processed locally, while many other species such as lobster, herring, mackerel and halibut are shipped out with little to no processing done.
It includes the communities of St. Barbe, Bartlett's Harbour, Bellburns, Bird Cove, Black Duck Cove, Blue Cove, Brig Bay, Castor River North, Castor River South, Cow Head, Daniel's Harbour, Eddie's Cove West, Forrester’s Point, Glenburnie-Birchy Head-Shoal Brook, Hawke's Bay, New Ferrole, Norris Point, Parsons Pond, Pigeon Cove, Plum Point, Pond Cove, Port aux Choix, Port Saunders, Portland Creek, Reef's Harbour, River of Ponds, Rocky Harbour St. Pauls, Sally's Cove, Shoal Cove West, Three Mile Rock, Trout River, Wiltondale, Woody Point.Straumfjörð
Straumfjörð (Icelandic), or Straumfjǫrð (Old Norse) sometimes anglicised to Straumsfjordr, Straumfjordr, Straumsfjord or Straumfjord, is according to the Sagas of Icelanders a fjord in Vinland where Thorfinn Karlsefni set up a temporary settlement. It is described in the Saga of Erik the Red, but not in the Greenland saga. Its name translates to "Current-fjord", "Stream-fjord" or "Tide-fjord".
Two somewhat different versions of the travels of Karlsefni appear in the sagas; they are found in the Hauksbók and the Flateyjarbók. They tell that Straumsey (Current-isle) lies at the mouth of Straumfjörð; this is an island with an extreme density of birds.
The whereabouts of Straumfjörð has been, and is, subject to intense speculation.Vinland
Vinland, Vineland or Winland (Old Norse: Vínland) is the area of coastal North America explored by Norse Vikings, where Leif Erikson first landed in ca. 1000, approximately five centuries prior to the voyages of Christopher Columbus and John Cabot. Vinland was the name given to North America as far as it was explored by the Norse, presumably including both Newfoundland and the Gulf of Saint Lawrence as far as northeastern New Brunswick (where the eponymous grapevines are found).
In 1960, archaeological evidence of the only known Norse site in North America (outside Greenland) was found at L'Anse aux Meadows on the northern tip of the island of Newfoundland. Before the discovery of archaeological evidence, Vinland was known only from Old Norse sagas and medieval historiography. The 1960 discovery proved the pre-Columbian Norse exploration of mainland North America. L'Anse aux Meadows may correspond to the camp Straumfjörð mentioned in the Saga of Erik the Red.Vinland flag
Vinland flag is a Nordic Cross flag designed by Gothic metal band Type O Negative. The flag used to symbolize a variety of front man Peter Steele's interests and political ideals (paganism, nature connectedness, and socialism), including his own Scandinavian heritage. Viking explorers visiting North America around the year 1000 called one of the areas they came to "Vinland". The flag appears on various compact-disc covers produced by the group, sometimes with the slogan "made in the People's Technocratic Republic of Vinnland", and adorns various pieces of Type O Negative merchandise.
Flag company Patriotic Flags made the first Vinland Flags offered for sale in 2004. Subsequently various groups in North America adopted the symbol as an ethnic flag, including numerous vendors, some Germanic neopagan groups, and political groups who commodiously identify the name of the 11th-century Norse colony at L'Anse aux Meadows, Newfoundland, called Vinland in the Norse sagas, with the predominantly Anglo-American inhabited areas of the modern nations of Canada and the United States. (More narrowly it has been displayed at the Finnskogen festival, celebrating the Forest Finns, despite its Norwegian provenance.) In the early 2000s the white supremacy skinhead group Vinlanders Social Club appropriated the flag, and it was bruited by the Anti-Defamation League and Stormfront that it could be defaced with the symbols of fellow extremist groups, The original Vinland flag in and of itself had no racist connotations.Vinland sagas
The Vinland Sagas are two Icelandic texts written independently of each other in the early 13th century — The Saga of the Greenlanders (Grænlendinga Saga) and The Saga of Eric the Red, (Eiríks Saga Rauða). The sagas were written down between 1220 and 1280, much later than the initial time of action 970–1030.The Saga of Erik the Red and The Saga of the Greenlanders both contain different accounts of Norse voyages to Vinland. The name Vinland meaning "Wineland," is attributed to the discovery of grapevines upon the arrival of Leif Eiriksson in North America. The Vinland Sagas represent the most complete information we have about the Norse exploration of the Americas although due to Iceland's oral tradition, they cannot be deemed completely historically accurate and include contradictory details. However, historians commonly believe these sources contain substantial evidence of Viking exploration of North America through the descriptions of topography, natural resources and native culture. In comparing the events of both books, a realistic timeline can be created.The veracity of the Sagas was supported by the discovery and excavation of a Viking Era settlement at L'Anse aux Meadows in Newfoundland, Canada. Research done in the early 1960s by Norwegian explorer Helge Ingstad and his wife, archaeologist Anne Stine Ingstad, identified an old Norse settlement located at what is now the L'Anse aux Meadows National Historic Site of Canada.
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