Danish saga leads to discovery of Viking settlement

On Nov. 5, 1963, Danish scientists Helge and Anne Stine Ingstad find first evidence of Viking ruins at L’Anse aux Meadows in northern Newfoundland. The two were guided by Viking sagas recorded in medieval Icelandic manuscripts. In 1960 they had located a settlement called Straumfiord, in the area where Lief Eiriksson wintered after being blown off course

The settlement, which lasted several years before being abandoned, included some eight buildings housing between 30 and 160 individuals, most likely colonists from Greenland. With the site carbon dated to 99 to 1050 AD, it is the first known evidence of pre-Columbian trans-oceanic contact. It is the only authenticated Viking settlement in North America outside of Greenland.

The buildings were framed in wood and finished with turf, the same method of construction being used in Greenland at that time. The comparable climate between with two areas means that settles would have been able to practice the same type of

Today scientists believe Newfoundland was part of a larger area extending as far south as New Brunswick, and called Vinland.

Excavations at the site, and a recreation of the original Norse settlement, are conducted by Parks Canada.

In 2000, Canada issued a 46-cent stamp showing a Viking longboat to reflect the Viking contribution to Canada’s cultural fabric.

Designed by Susan Warr, it was issued along with three other stamps: Immigration, Pier 21 Halifax; Neptune Theatre, Halifax; and Stratford Festival. The stamps were issued in souvenir sheets and in a hardbound book, both were printed by Ashton-Potter Canada Ltd.

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