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Newfoundland Viking History

The Vikings were a seafaring people from Scandinavia who are known for their exploration and conquests. They migrated to North America in search of land because they were overpopulated. In 1960, evidence of Viking settlement was found at L’Anse aux Meadows in Newfoundland.

The discovery of the Norse habitation at L’Anse aux Meadows gave powerful support for those who believed that Vinland was in Newfoundland. Yet L’Anse aux Meadows appears to have been a small settlement of about eight buildings and no more than 75 people, mostly sailors, carpenters, blacksmiths, hired hands and their families.

The Vikings erected a thousand-year-old settlement in Newfoundland at least by AD 1021. A group of researchers from the Netherlands claim they’ve added to a pool of evidence proving the Vikings were the first known Europeans to cross the Atlantic and set foot on North American soil, erecting a small settlement on the north coast of Newfoundland at least 1,000 years ago.

Several Viking parties probably spent three to five years in total here, wintering over, hunting and fishing and repairing their boats. The Norse failed to settle permanently in North America because Vinland was a remote place, and voyaging there was difficult.

Greenland represented the practical limit of medieval Europe’s extension into the North Atlantic. The Norse could survive in Greenland for 500 years but could not establish themselves in Vinland with its richer resources and better climate. Serious Viking exploration of Vinland probably lasted little more than a decade. After Ericson’s single expedition, his role as Vinland explorer was assumed by Thorfinn Karlsefni who once led a party of 160 men.

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