Sunday, August 7

Way Before Columbus

I've spent the last two days way up on the northern tip of Newfoundland's Northern Peninsula and the weather has been grim - no sun, fog, rain, (even hail) with plenty of wind to make sure the fifty degree temperature felt a whole lot colder. Luckily, I had my rain gear from the Alaskan trip (that I never needed in Alaska) stowed in the van - amazing how toasty you can be with when you have the right clothing.

So what am I doing? I wanted to visit L'Anse aux Meadows (a National Historic Site) which is the only known Viking Site in North America. One of the first things I learned - their is really no such thing as a Viking - which is strange because we've all seen a Viking movie or two and read our history books (right?), even the official literature and displays at the site constantly use the term Viking when referring to the people that lived there. Turns out, the people that occupied this site (and others not yet discovered) were the Norse - originally from Norway, they made there way west via the Faroe Islands, Iceland, Greenland and finally North America as explorers and traders. The term "viking" refers to what the Norsemen did a small portion of the time - they went "viking" (fighting, killing, pirating) and that seems to have overtaken the reality that they were farmers, shipbuilders, traders and some of the greatest explorers of the time.

The other interesting thing (that I guess I already knew) was that these guys (and ladies) were doing their thing in North America at least 500 years before, our main man, Christopher Columbus discovered the New World! While L'Anse aux Meadows is the only know Norse site in North America their is considerable evidence coming to light that they certainly explored the mainland, most likely in what is now New Brunswick. I'd have to think, someday, we'll find they traveled even further.

While at the Historic Site I took an interesting tour of the ongoing archeological digs (in the rain) and then we all scurried inside a reconstruction of a Norse "house" - 6 foot thick peat walls and a couple of fire pits kept the place pretty comfy, and even though this settlement was never permanent the log "post and beam" construction was impressive. And this took place a 1000 years ago.

Our host, who had some tales to tell from the old days

 

5 comments:

  1. It is an interesting place to say the least.

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  2. It is an interesting place to say the least.

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  3. Finally! This is what I've been waiting for you to take some pictures of which are, as usual, excellent. There are excellent ruins in Greenland as well; are you going over? :)

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  4. There is a resturant there that has really good pie.

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  5. Very interesting. Makes you realize how it used to be.

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