Thursday, August 21, 2014

L'Anse aux Meadows in Newfoundland

L'Anse aux Meadows with recreated Norse site.
The Vikings from Norway were the first Europeans to reach North America. A seafaring people, they crossed the Atlantic to Iceland, Greenland, and finally Labrador and Newfoundland, expanding their range of occupation.

Thick walls of peat blocks insulated the living quarters.
They came in large, seaworthy boats called knarrs propelled by sail and rowing. Can you imagine crossing the open ocean in such a craft? Because Greenland's resources were being depleted, and a cooler climate made farming difficult, the Vikings set out for North America in about 1000 AD.

Living quarters with fire ring and benches for sleeping.
The first was probably a merchant named Bjarni who was blown off course on the way to Greenland. A decade passed before Leif Erikson explored the areas called Helluland (Baffin Island), Markland (probably southern Labrador), and finally Vinland (Newfoundland). They built sod houses and overwintered in the rich meadow lands.

Work area attached to living quarters with loom on left.
Subsequent exploration led to temporary settlements lasting two or three years, but never permanent.  Records show that L'Anse aux Meadows became a temporary home to about seventy-five sailors, carpenters, blacksmiths, labourers, women, and possibly slaves.

Backsmith shop where iron was smelted from local ore.
The sod structures included living quarters, work areas, storage rooms, a forge area to smelt iron from ore found in the peat bog, some farming, and raising of sheep and goats. Summer was used to explore farther south and into the Gulf of St. Lawrence. Occupancy lasted only a few years and the Vikings most likely returned to Greenland from whence they came.

Storage room with sod walls and roof.
The Viking Trail tourist route begins at Deer Lake and follows Highway 430 north to St. Anthony. It also crosses the Strait of Belle Isle to Labrador and follows Highway 510 north to Battle Harbour.

Visiting the Norse site at L'Anse aux Meadows was a moving experience for me. My grandmother was born in Moss, Norway, and immigrated to the United States as a young child. As I stood in the recreated village, I could feel the bravery and daring of my long ago ancestors. -- Margy


  1. Anonymous9:44 AM

    Seeing our history recreated would be amazing.

  2. Anonymous9:44 AM

    Seeing our history recreated would be amazing.

  3. It must have taken a lot of courage to start that adventure all those years ago. I don't think I'd have been that brave.
    Fascinating and interesting post. The photographs are great
    Thanks for sharing

  4. I can well imagine and marvel at the hardships many of our ancestors had to endure when crossing rough seas in vulnerable vessels. The bravery and daring of explorers and people simply seeking a better life knows no bounds even today.

  5. It was quite the hardship back then. Enjoying your tour of the area.

  6. how interesting to be able to see inside these underground dwellings, workshops. Amazing country to visit like you did

  7. Viking Trail tourist route-- That must be very interesting and so full of info. Wow!

    Lovely pictures. The first two would make such great postcards. :)

  8. The storage room looks like a really safe hiding place.

  9. I've always wanted to visit L'Anse aux Meadows. A primeaval thread runs through us, I think. It connects us to our ancestors and makes sites like these significant experiences.

  10. Great shots. I saw places like this in Iceland 3 months ago. I was stunned. So well cone and comfortable. :)

  11. Great shots. I saw places like this in Iceland 3 months ago. I was stunned. So well cone and comfortable. :)

  12. What a wonderful tour! I love thinking about the olden days. Excellent tour.

  13. Thanks all for coming along on the tour.

    NatureFootstep - I would love to visit Iceland some day.



We welcome your comments and questions. - Wayne and Margy