Second North American Viking site suspected

L'Anse Aux Meadows was the first, and until now the only site widely accepted as evidence of Viking settlement in the Americas. But then there were two—maybe.
A team of archeologists has found what may be the remains of a previously unknown Viking settlement on a south west shore of the Island of Newfoundland. If the remains can be confirmed, the site would make it just the second ever discovered that has given proof of Vikings inhabiting parts of North America. The team has been videotaping their work and a documentary of their efforts will be presented this month on PBS. Leading the research is archeologist and National Geographic fellow, Sarah Parcak, who has been described as a "space archaeologist" because of her groundbreaking use of satellite technology to uncover Egyptian ruins. In this latest effort, she and her team have altered their methods to uncover what appears to be evidence of Viking iron smelting.

They've found an iron hearth, full of old slag, surrounded by turf walls, and dated it to the Viking age. Further excavations are planned, and the researchers hope to reveal more evidence of a complete settlement.

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  1. Viking, n.:
    1) Daring Scandinavian seafarers, explorers, adventurers, entrepreneurs world-famous for their aggressive, nautical import business, highly leveraged takeovers and blue eyes.

    2) Bloodthirsty sea pirates who ravaged northern Europe beginning in the 9th century.

    Hagar's note:
    The first definition is much preferred; the second is used only by malcontents, the envious, and disgruntled owners of waterfront property.

  2. Likely the Beothic didn't like them... or the Inuit. (There is an inuit legend about retaliatory killing a group of white men by disguising themselves as icebergs and floating right into their camp... google is failing me, it was a film... dammit)

    When I went to L'Anse aux Meadows there was much talk of the area being called "Vineland" which if you've been up there, makes no sense. We know they were there, and that they moved on, but not to where, makes sense they'd go to the west coast of the rock, its a totally different climate. Green and growing, not so barren, possibly where they meant when they said "vineland". Neato!

  3. What if the Viking stayed long enough for steel making to be passed to the Native Americans, especially those in South America.

    And what if, more importantly, they had infected them with small pox and other Old World diseases, meaning that by 1492 the population would have rebounded and gained some immunity. America and the world would look veeerrrryyyy different.

  4. How things have changed!

  5. Greenland is not at all a strange name for the place they colonized. Several Norwegians had accidentally sailed past Iceland and had seen uninviting glacial coast on the eastern side of Greenland. One red-haired Norwegian dude named Erik, who was a viking by trade...
    (To go viking was a profession not a people. To go seafaring, to go from vik to vik to vik. Sometimes víkingr were sea-rovers.)
    ...and had pissed of everybody and the king in Norway, felt it necessary to emigrate to Iceland where they didn't know him yet. After a few years in Iceland he had succeeded to piss off almost everybody on Iceland also, so he decided it was a good idea to give those western snowy shores, some had spotted, a closer look while everybody at home had some time to calm down over that little bit of killing. Two or three days of sailing got him and his mates to Greenlands fjordy, glaciery, uninviting coast. Since going right back home or to any other inhabited place wasn't really an option, he decided to follow the coast south and westwards. Coming around the southern tip of Greenland into Baffin Bay, after endless days of sailing past ice-covered crags and icebergs, they came into an area that was heated by the gulf stream, that was free of snow, had grassy meadows and hills with flowers and herbs.
    He had discovered green land.
    He named it that and stayed over winter.

    He later settled in his tax free haven.
    His son Leif already was one of the hundreds of men and women who camped in Canada.

    The name Vinland has nothing to do with berries or grapes.
    The Greenlanders described the lands they found by their features. The remaining sagas tell of Helluland in the north, Markland further south and past Furdurstrandr, the wonderously extensive beach, Vinland being the southernmost of their new world discoveries. These words have known meanings in Norse. Hellu meant rocky escarpment, or something. Remnants of the word are in 'helling' (wharf), or the island 'Heligoland' for example. Many more.
    Mark meant forested land, there are tons of place-names reflecting that. Vin meant pastures, like in the German word Wiesen.
    At the time the word for pasture, 'vin', had already taken on the meaning of farmland in Old Norse, but to a Greenlander sheep were a vegetable. :stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye:
    Crossing Baffin Bay from western Greenland, where most of the America-visiting Norsemen lived, they first found Baffin Island, the coast of which, as you can fact check in Google maps or earth, fits the descriptive name of 'Rocky boulder slope' quite well. Greenlanders had gone near there for generations to hunt walrus and narwhale and the like.
    A few days sailing south from there took them to Markland, Labrador. It is still quite densely forested and unpopulated. Greenlanders went on expeditions to get their wood from there, sensibly preferring larch, archaeology tells us.
    A couple days of travel further south they found what looked like farmable pasture land, Vinland. To a Greenlander, Newfoundland must have appeared quite fertile and mild.
    Since you have visited L'Anse aux Meadows you know that the descriptive grassland fits the landscape of Newfoundland's coastal areas well. The Norse had simply named those lands after their respective landscape features.

    The Sagas were an oral history for several hundred years and while in part surprisingly accurate, had simplified or had gathered some elements, just because they made the stories more fun in the retelling. By the time three of all the sagas mentioning travels and camps in Canada were written down to remain, and remain unchanged, entertaining nonsense had entered the history. Like the side story chronicler Adam von Bremen invented, of a Turkish "runner" from Germany and his wife, also a runner, who were sent out to scout the area. They supposedly came back telling of the native people they had come across, that only had one leg and one eye and were shooting poison darts or something. This German and his wife are who, in this silly add-on, discovered grapes on their trip and then practically overnight made wine so that they arrived back at the ship drunk. Adam, I know it's obvious, did never live in any areas of Germany that produce wine. He had no idea what he was talking about but made up this side story to explain the name.
    In his native written tongue, not Old Norse, but old high German, "win" meant wine. He must have felt compelled to deliver an explanation for the name that wasn't as laughable to his readers as the idea that Norseman could have made wine themselves. But much like mapmakers of the time did it, monsters were added to clearly mark to the more enlightened readers which part of the story he was pulling outta his ass. One-legged hopping poison Indians. "Here be monsters" practically means "I'm just guessing".

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