Bjarni Herjolfsson in "The Saga of the Greenlanders"

Chapter 1


Herjolf was the son of Bard Herjolfsson and a kinsman of Ingolf, the settler of Iceland. Ingolf gave to Herjolf the land between Vog and Reykjanes.

At first, Herjolf farmed at Drepstokk. His wife was named Thorgerd and their son was Bjarni; he was a promising young man. While still a youthful age he longed to sail abroad. He soon earned himself both a good deal of wealth and a good name, and spent his winters alternately abroad and with his father. Soon Bjarni had his own ship making trading voyages. During the last winter Bjarni spent in Norway, Herjolf decided to accompany Eirik the Red to Greenland and left his farm. [...]

Herjolf farmed at Herjolfsnes. He was the most respected of men.


Bjarni steered his ship into Eyrar in the summer of the year that his father had sailed from Iceland. Bjarni was greatly moved by the news and would not have his cargo unloaded. His crew then asked what he was waiting for, and he answered that he intended to follow his custom of spending the


winter with his father - 'and I want to set sail for Greenland, if you will join me'.

All of them said they would follow his counsel.

Bjarni then spoke: 'Our journey will be thought an ill-considered one, since none of us has sailed the Greenland Sea.'

Despite this they set sail once they had made ready and sailed for three days, until the land had disappeared below the horizon. Then the wind dropped and they were beset by winds from the north and fog; for many days they did not know where they were sailing.



Upon seeing a fourth land they asked Bjarni whether he thought this was Greenland or not.

Bjarni answered, 'This land is most like what I have been told of Greenland, and we'll head for shore here.'

This they did and made land along a headland in the evening of the day, finding a boat there. On this point Herjolf, Bjarni's father, lived, and it was named for him and has since been called Herjolfsnes (Herjolf's point). Bjarni now joined his father and ceased his merchant voyages. He remained on his father's farm as long as Herjolf lived and took over the farm after his death.

Chapter 2

Following this, Bjarni Herjolfsson sailed from Greenland to Earl Eirik,

who received him well. Bjarni told of his voyage, during which he had

sighted various lands, and many people thought him short on curiosity, since

he had nothing to tell of these lands, and he was criticized somewhat for this.

Bjarni became one of the earl's followers and sailed to Greenland the following summer.

Source: Keneva Kunz, trans, "[Bjarni Herjolfsson in] The Saga of the Greenlanders" in The Sagas of Icelanders: A Selection, preface by Jane Smiley, introduction by Robert Kellogg, (New York, London, Victoria (Australia), Toronto, Auckland: The Penguin Group, 2000), 636-652. Notes: Translations first published in "The Complete Sagas of Icelanders," volumes I-V (forty-nine tales), Leifur Eiriksson Publishing, Ltd., Iceland, 1997.

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