Cape Cod House Sites in “Leif Erikson’s Vinland”

The River

Does Bass River flow down from a lake? This was the question asked by interested persons who knew where my detective work was leading me. […] One factor I kept in mind was that his camp had been called Leif's "Shelters." This, I assumed, meant it was sheltered from winds that might damage the ship.

[…] The direction of the Bass River […] is a sweeping semicircle […] its general course three and a half miles northeast by north, and then two miles northwest to the middle of Follins Pond, then one mile west into Mill Pond

[…] That such a lake as Follins Pond existed was corroborative of my theory.

A Geographical Jig-Saw

To be valid, a theory as to the location of Leif's Vineland camp site must satisfy all geographical specifications which are cited either stated in the [[italics]]Flateyjarbˇk[[/]], or deducible from it. Here are those specifications:

(1) It must place Leif's house in Vineland more than 150 and less than 300 miles ("out for two days") southwest from somewhere on the coast of Markland (Nova Scotia).

(2)It must put it north and west of "an island which lay to the north of the land."

(3)It must put it up a river, the mouth of which Leif came to after he "sailed into a sound."

(4)The mouth of the river must be more than seven and less than twenty miles from the ocean.

(5)The camp site must be on the shore of a lake to which the river gave access.

(6)Inland waters extensive enough to keep an exploring party in a small boat busy all one summer (see story of Leif's brother Thorvald) must lie to the west of Leif's camp site.

(7)Since the sun was still above the horizon on the shortest day in winter at afternoon mealtime, about 4:30 P.M., Leif's camp must be south of the latitude of Boston.

(8)As revealed by the stories of Thorvald and of Karlsefni [...], Leif's camp must be west and south of a sandy cape "which went to the north from the land."

(9)The distance to the mouth of the river from the island on which Leif first landed in Vineland must be in the order of 16 to 20 nautical miles.

(10)As we shall learn from Thorvald's story, the general direction of the seacoast from the Vineland camp on the opposite side from the inland waters must run to the north ("coast on the north side") and thence "to the east."

Where the specifications are so numerous and mutually dependent, we have a geographical puzzle admitting of only one solution. All these details must fit each other, and in the Bass River-Follins Pond theory they do fit each other, and there is no other place in North America where they do.

The Lake

Since Leif's camp was called Leif's "Shelters," I had assumed it would be on a north shore sheltered from wintry north winds. […] but now I saw that the water close to the south shore was unruffled by any breath of air. The high ground above the south shore gave perfect shelter against the southwest wind, which I soon learned—as Leif and his men must have learned their first afternoon on Cape Cod—was the prevailing wind of the region […]

Source: Fredirck J. Pohl, "[Cape Cod House Sites in] Leif Erikson’s Vinland" in Atlantic Crossings Before Columbus, (New York: W.W. Norton Company Inc., 1961), 86-92.

Return to parent page