Vinland (Land of Wine) in “The Saga of the Greenlanders”

[Bjarni’s voyage]

Chapter 1

- 637 -

[...] They speculated among themselves as to what land this would be, for Bjarni said he suspected this was not Greenland.

[...] 'My advice is that we sail in close to the land.'

They did so, and soon saw that the land was not mountainous but did have small hills, and was covered with forests. Keeping it on their port side, they turned their sail-end landwards and angled away from shore.

They sailed for another two days before sighting land [Markland] once again.[...]

[Leif’s expedition]

Chapter 2

- 639 -

[...]After this [after leaving Markland] they sailed out to sea and spent two days at sea with a north-easterly wind before they saw land. They sailed towards it and came to an island, which lay to the north of the land, where they went ashore. In the fine weather they found dew on the grass, that they collected in their hands and drank, and thought they had never tasted anything as sweet.

Afterwards they returned to their ship and sailed into the sound which lay between the island and the headland that stretched out northwards from the land. They rounded the headland and steered westward. Here there were extensive shallows at low tide and their ship was soon stranded, and the sea looked far away to those aboard ship.

Their curiosity to see the land was so great that they could not be bothered to wait for the tide to come in and float their stranded ship, and they ran aground where a river flowed into the sea from a lake. When the incoming tide floated the ship again, they took the boat and rowed to the ship and moved it up into the river and from there into the lake, where they cast anchor. They carried their sleeping-sacks ashore and built booths. Later they decided to spend the winter there and built large houses.


It seemed to them the land was so good that livestock would need no fodder during the winter. The temperature never dropped below freezing, and the grass only withered very slightly.[...]

Chapter 3

- 641 -

[...] When spring came they made the ship ready and set sail. Leif named the land for its natural features and called it Vinland (Wineland). [...]

[Thorvald’s expedition]

Chapter 4

- 642 -

[...] Thorvald now prepared for the journey with thirty companions. They made their ship ready and put to sea, and nothing is told of their journey until they came to Vinland, to Leif’s camp, where they laid up their ship and settled in for the winter, fishing for their food. [...]

[Karlsefni’s and Gudrid’s expedition]

Chapter 6

- 646 -

[...]They then put out to sea in their ship and arrived without mishap at Leif's booths, where they unloaded their sleeping-sacks. They soon had plenty of good provisions, since a fine, large rorqual had stranded on the beach. After they had gone and carved up the whale they had no lack of food. The livestock made its way inland, but the male animals soon became irritable and hard to handle. They had brought one bull with them.


- 648 -

[...]Karlsefni and his companions spent the entire winter there, but in the spring he declared that he wished to remain no longer and wanted to return to Greenland. They made ready for their journey, taking with them plenty of the land's products — grapevines, berries and skins. They set sail and arrived safely in Eiriksfjord where they stayed over the winter.

[Freydis’ and Thorvard’s expedition]

Chapter 7

- 648 -

Discussion soon began again of a Vinland voyage, since the trip seemed to bring men both wealth and renown.

The same summer that Karlsefni returned from Vinland a ship arrived in Greenland from Norway. The skippers were two brothers, Helgi and Finnbogi, who spent the winter in Greenland. They were Icelanders, from the East Fjords.

We now turn to Freydis Eiriksdottir, who set out on a journey from Gardar to meet with the two brothers, Helgi and Finnbogi, and to propose that they all make the journey to Vinland on their ship and have a half-share of any profits from it. They agreed to this.

From there she went to her brother Leif and asked him to give her the houses he had built in Vinland. He replied as he had before, that he would lend the houses but not give them to anyone.

According to the agreement between Freydis and the two brothers, each was to have thirty fighting men aboard his ship and women in addition. Freydis broke the agreement straight away, however, and took five extra men, concealing them so that the brothers were not aware of them until they had reached Vinland.

- 650 -

[...]Early in the spring they loaded the ship, which the brothers had owned, with all the produce they could gather and the ship would hold. They then set sail and had a good voyage, sailing their ship into Eiriksfjord in early summer. Karlsefni was there already, with his ship all set to sail and only waiting for a favourable wind. It was said that no ship sailing from Greenland had been loaded with a more valuable cargo than the one he commanded.

Source: Keneva Kunz, trans., "[Vinland (Land of Wine) 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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