L’Anse aux Meadows

[ L'Anse aux Meadows General View ]

L'Anse aux Meadows General View, The Parks Canada Crew 1975, The Parks Canada Archaeology Photo Collection 4A-1235T

The Viking site at L’Anse aux Meadows is located on the northernmost tip of the Northern Peninsula of Newfoundland. It was discovered in 1960 by the Norwegian writer and explorer Helge Ingstad. Excavations began in 1961 under the direction of Ingstad’s wife, Anne Stine Ingstad, a professional archaeologist, and continued until 1968. At that point eight buildings and some of the areas outside them had been excavated. The architecture, the construction material, and a handful of artifacts in the buildings indicated that they had been built in an Icelandic-early Greenland style and dated to the 11th century

Helge Ingstad was convinced that what he had found was Vinland. Others were not so sure. They thought it was too far north to be the paradise that was Vinland. Grapes had certainly never grown there. Ingstad countered with the suggestion that vin in “Vinland” meant ‘pasture’ or ‘meadow,’ not ‘wine.’

By 1975, the site had generated sufficient interest among Canadians and abroad for it to be considered for the status of a National Historic Site of Canada. In preparation for this, further excavations took place from 1973 to 1976 under the direction of Parks Canada, the agency that manages all National Historic Sites and National Parks. Large areas outside the Norse structures were excavated, including a bog skirting the buildings. Worked wood and artifacts in a remarkably well preserved condition were found in the bog deposited in three layers. The middle layer was Norse; the ones below and above it contained wood worked with Aboriginal stone tools. Areas some distance away from the buildings were also excavated. Aboriginal tent floors and stone artifacts from several periods were found here. The oldest predated the Norse by several thousand years; the youngest were from the 13th and 14th centuries. All in all, more than 2000 artifacts were found during these excavations.

Take a closer look at the site. Study the details. Was L’Anse aux Meadows one of the sites mentioned in the sagas? Was it Vinland?