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    Caribou antlers decorate a fence in front of a traditional Viking house.
    Archaeological excavations uncovered the ruins of eight houses typical of Iceland and Greenland. As in the 11th century, these life-size reconstructions consist of a wooden frame covered with sod on the walls and roof.

    An Astonishing Discovery at Anse aux Meadows

    Day 21 of my solo bike trip across Canada.

    A few years earlier, I had been amazed when my friend Greg’s mother had cycled 100 km to buy shoes! At the same time, my school results weren’t flying high, especially in history. And here I am, making a 900 km detour to visit a historic site…

    I’m not the only one who changes over time; history itself evolves with new discoveries. And the one that took place here in Newfoundland is astonishing! Whatever Christopher Columbus may have said, the Genoese navigator didn’t discover a “New World”. Firstly, because the First Nations had already been living here for ages, but also because Scandinavian sailors established a colony in North America long before 1492. Ancient Scandinavian stories even describe the expeditions of Leif Eriksson. Is it true?

    To prove these tales true, Norwegian explorer Helge Ingstad and his wife, archaeologist Anne Stine, set out in search of clues along the Newfoundland coastline. In 1960, they landed in a small, isolated community at the tip of the Great Northern Peninsula. And thanks to local resident George Decker, the couple found what they were looking for: “a group of grass-covered hummocks and ridges, suggestive of house ruins”.

    After several years of archaeological excavations, the site became a National Historic Site of Canada in 1977, and the following year was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site: “L’Anse aux Meadows is the first and only known site established by Vikings in North America and the earliest evidence of European settlement in the New World. As such, it is a unique milestone in the history of human migration and discovery.”

    So, the legend was true! I don’t at all regret this detour along the west coast of Newfoundland.

    A fire inside a traditional Viking house, with a man and woman dressed in traditional costume.
    Some of the artifacts unearthed give valuable clues to the life of this settlement. On the one hand, foundry slag and nails attest to iron working, while a bone needle and a small spindle wheel suggests the presence of women here.

    Detail of the bow of a wooden Viking boat.
    According to ancient Scandinavian stories known as the Vinland Sagas, Leif Eriksson and his crew transported from Vinland (now North America) truckloads of timber to build houses and ships in their Greenland colonies.

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