The Discovery of Vinland

Authored by: Birgitta Wallace

The Viking World

Print publication date:  October  2008
Online publication date:  October  2008

Print ISBN: 9780415333153
eBook ISBN: 9780203412770
Adobe ISBN: 9781134318261


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In 1837 Carl Christian Rafn published the Vinland sagas in his Antiquitates Americanae (Rafn 1837), followed in 1838 by Discovery of North America (Rafn 1838), the English translation. Ever since, there has been speculation, on both sides of the Atlantic, as to the location of Vinland and the two other areas of Norse landfalls, Markland and Helluland. Archaeological work at L’Anse aux Meadows, in Newfoundland, in the 1960s and 70s provides compelling evidence that Vinland was, in fact, the Gulf of St Lawrence in eastern Canada. While situations and events described in the sagas have been ritualised, conflated and adjusted for the political biases of their day, the L’Anse aux Meadows site proves that Vinland was indeed a physical reality. The site is Leifsbúðir-Straumfjǫrðr, and Vinland itself the coastal region encircling the Gulf of St Lawrence, extending from the Strait of Belle Isle in the north to New Brunswick in the south.

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