Unique Facts about Canada: The Viking Settlements
Experts agree that the Vikings only lasted three to ten years at Vinland, eventually leaving not because of the cold or lack of food, but rather because they were. I remember a speculation about the vikings meeting native and Greenland- Vinland were such that you probably did not make more than one. Vinland: Vinland, the land of wild grapes in North America that was visited and named The most detailed information about Viking visits. Both at Hóp and somewhere north of Straumfjord, the Norse meet large groups of indigenous people.
What happened to the settlement? After Erik the Red was exiled from Iceland possibly due to a murder charge he sailed west and ended up finding an island that he would name Greenland.
When he returned to Iceland three years later, he convinced hundreds of others to help him establish a settlement there. Despite the harsh living conditions, farms were built and eventually the Viking settlement flourished.
He is described as a big, strong man with a striking appearance. In Greenlanders, the story goes that Erikson made it to Greenland just fine. He asked his father to join him, but Erik the Red fell off his horse shortly afterwards. Winter was coming and the area had vines and grapes hence the name, Vinland and tons of salmon.Vikings In North America (Documentary)
Endless wine and fish? He either went back to work for his father or to resume his work in spreading Christianity. He also decided that he had ownership over Vinland and that any further expeditions to the area were authorized and taxed by him. It is believed that Erikson himself never returned to Vinland, but his siblings did. Expeditions to Vinland continued for another decade or so, but then they stopped completely.
Vikings and Skraelings by Angus McBride. Essentially, the Indigenous Nations got there first. The sagas once again provide us with this possible explanation. The Huts top 23 Two huts, E and G, were square pit buildings, dug into the ground.
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Hut C, on the other hand, was irregularly rounded and not dug into the ground. All were dwellings, huts E and G possibly also workshops. Hut E flanked hall D, a short distance north of it. This hut was set about 50 centimeters deep into the terrace, with slender posts in the corners and along the walls, holding up the roof.
Excavation, in one corner, uncovered a stone oven consisting of slate slabs set on edge, and, near one of the walls, a fireplace. In the northwest corner, just inside what might have been the door, was a pile of 19 stones, the size of a clenched fist, mostly limestone A. Hut G was next to hall F. It was set into the very edge of the terrace and cut more into it than hut E, undoubtedly because it is farther from the bog and therefore has drier ground.
The function of the hut is uncertain. Like the other, it had a fireplace by a wall, the latter protected by a stone slab, so it probably functioned, at least in part, as a dwelling. They were often used as workshops, for the manufacture of amber beads, bronze jewelry, iron working, bone industry, carpentry, and weaving, but they were also used as dwellings Randsborg Such pit buildings probably served different functions, as was required.
They were simple to build and maintain. Pit buildings with ovens have been interpreted as weaving huts, as loom weights are commonly found in them Bjarni Einarsson The stones in the pile in the corner of hut E at L'Anse aux Meadows had undoubtedly been used as weights, but whether for a fishing net or a loom is difficult to say. A number of birch bark rolls and waste from wood working, found in the bog outside the hut, may clarify this issue.
Birch bark rolls were frequently used as net sinker wraps for stones like those in the corner of the hut a practice persisting into the nineteenth centuryso hut E could be a workshop and storage place for a fish net Martens No traces of posts were found. The roof must have been created by corbelling sods in a more or less circular pattern, each row extending beyond the previous one so that a domed roof was formed.
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The only feature inside was a fireplace by the wall, which makes it likely that this was a dwelling, for a person of low rank. The Furnace Hut top 26 The furnace hut was set into the edge of terrace, its front open and facing the brook, its floor a little over one meter below the ground Figure 3.
In this case, the function of the hut is clear. In the middle of the floor stood a small furnace for the manufacture of iron. The furnace consisted of a small shaft of tabular stones set on edge, the spaces between them chinked with small stones and a thick layer of clay.
This shaft was set over a shallow pit and filled with alternate layers of bog ore iron and charcoal. The ore had been collected along the brook bank where it is formed, continually, by natural processes. Bog iron ore is iron that has been leached out of igneous rock and dissolved in the ground water. Under the right chemical conditions, in the presence of certain bacteria, the iron becomes moderately solid and, adhering to organic materials, such as roots, and inorganic materials, such as sand, is precipitated into crusty lumps.
A handful of small personal items had probably been lost by their owners. One artifact, a socket or pivot stone for a door post, was likely discarded because it was a heavy object of little value. Iron Working Waste top 28 Iron was both made and worked on the site. The waste from these activities consisted primarily of slag. A metallurgical analysis helped distinguish smelting slag, produced in iron making, from smithy slag Unglik and Stewart Smelting slag was concentrated around the small furnace inside the furnace hut and on the upper part of the slope to the brook in front of the hut.
The raw material for the iron was local bog ore. This was done inside the small stone furnace by layering the ore with charcoal and adding oxygen to the fire via a double-chambered bellows inserted into the front of the furnace. Identical charcoal kilns are well known from Norway, Sweden and Iceland, where this type of kiln existed into our days Johansen The iron produced filled an immediate need, for it was worked into objects, as can be seen from the presence of smithing slag.
The Norse must have brought smith's tools on the voyage, perhaps as a precaution. This was also a one-time activity of limited duration, probably to work the iron into nails.
These were essential for the boat repair or perhaps boat buildingthat took place on the site. Carpentry Waste top 30 Carpentry, obviously, was required to prepare the bearing elements and much of the interior of the large halls. Part of the waste from this work fell into the peat bog skirting the halls.
Thanks to the tannic acid in the bog, and the fact that the bog must have had standing water on the surface at the time, carpentry debris has survived in excellent condition. Thus the D-E complex must be where most of the wood working took place.
Most of the waste consisted of post and plank ends, shavings, and chips. Excavators also found birch bark rolls and fragments of rope made from twisted spruce roots. With one exception, the waste consisted of local woods: The exception was a butternut burl, cut with a sharp knife.
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A few broken objects lay within the wood waste: Unlike the waste chips, some of these were European wood. A carved triangular finial is of Scots pine, a European species introduced into North America only after The small peg hammered into the head of a treenail in the boat floor plank is also Scots pine.
These objects must have been made in Europe, presumably in Norway, where Scots pine was readily available. Yet this is an unusually high concentration for a West Norse site, for nails were not used in building construction, except in very expensive structures.
On 65 farm sites in Norway excavators recovered a total of only 15 whole or fragmentary nails Rolfsen When iron nails occur in double digit quantities on a West Norse site, they always signal boat repair. Iron nails rust with time, and boat nails have to be replaced. X-ray photos of the L'Anse aux Meadows nails show that they have been cut in this way.
There are also nail tips which were snipped off as the new nail was being clenched over the rove a small metal plate over which the boat rivet or nail is clenched. About 66 percent of the nail fragments were found in the F-G complex, with a special concentration in room VI, a lean-to shed on the inland side of the hall. Obviously this is where the boat work took place. Replacement of rusted nails and, perhaps, cracked planks had always seemed plausible to me, until a Norwegian marine historian pointed out that in Norse clinker construction, building a new boat is easier than replacing individual strakes Olaf Engvig, pers.
The break up of the old hull could have been simply to salvage as much as possible. At least a few boat strakes were used as firewood, because a few nail fragments turned up in the fireplaces.
The idea that the Norse built boats at L'Anse aux Meadows merits consideration: These structures are common in western Norway, where boats were always constructed in a shed in which the strakes of the boat are shaped and supported by shores from a strong back under the building's tie-beams Christensen The traces in the L'Anse aux Meadows boat shed do look as if they could be the vestiges of such a wooden structure.
The boat itself would have been small, no longer than eight meters, comparable to some of the boats found with the Gokstad ship, which were used as landing and scouting craft. The number of people present at L'Anse aux Meadows make it virtually certain that big ships were used to get there from Greenland, probably at least three of them, one for each of the three dwelling complexes -- but as the sagas tell us, smaller boats were used for local travel.
Figure 6 X-ray image of an iron nail, cut during boat repair, from L'Anse aux Meadows. Photo by Conservation Division, Parks Canada. Display large image of Figure 6 32 Besides the 99 nail fragments, excavators recovered a single whole nail, unused, from carpentry waste in the bog.
The iron from which it was made differed from the other nails, with a much higher phosphor content. Since both the ore and the slag on the site were relatively high in phosphor, this nail may have been made on site, as part of the boat work Unglik and Stewart Small Personal Items top 33 A few small items were lost by their owners: The bronze pin, which measured only 10 centimeters in length when new, had been dropped into the forge pit in the smithy in hall D.
The glass bead was a common, almost globular, clear glass type, just over one centimeter in diameter. It was originally lost outside hall D, on the terrace side of the house. Unfortunately it has since been lost once more, while being prepared for conservation in a Parks Canada laboratory, and photographs and descriptions are all that are left.
The minute bronze fragment, found within the living-room of hall D, is of interest primarily because it was gilded Unglik and Stewart It had been part of a ring with a striated decoration, but whether finger ring or suspension loop is impossible to tell. One was a spindle whorl, the other a small whetstone for the sharpening of needles and small sewing scissors Figure 7.
A spindle whorl is the small flywheel of a hand-held spindle, used to make yarn or thread for weaving and knitting. The weight of the whorl, at The whorl consists of soapstone and was made from a sherd of a broken cook pot, for the slightly concave bottom side of the whorl has been blackened by soot.
Chan, for Parks Canada. Display large image of Figure 7 35 The small needle whetstone is of a fine-grained sandstone or quartzite and is shaped like a slender rod with square cross-section and tapering ends Pride This is a typical Viking Age form, often kept in small sewing boxes Roesdahl The bone needle had been dropped in the long fire in the living-room of hall D.
It is simple in form, with an expanding inverse triangular head, through which a hole has been drilled. Its tip is broken off. There were also nine fire strikers of jasper, worn and discarded. Figure 8 Display large image of Figure 8 36 The only finished Norse object deliberately left on the site was a small beach boulder of igneous rock with a shallow depression pecked out of its centre Figure 8.
Similar objects found in Iceland have been interpreted as oil lamps Roussell This was formerly believed to be the function of the L'Anse aux Meadows specimen A.
They are a common object in Scotland and the Shetland Islands, where the Norse had learned to use them from the local people.
Their use as lamps has been deduced from the presence of charred organic substances in the cavity Hamilton But such forms, without evidence of burning, also appear to have been socket pivots for door posts Batey, Rackham et al.
The L'Anse aux Meadows specimen, which has no charred substance or evidence of burning, was probably used for a door. It was found at the edge of a doorway between the kitchen and a large storage room in hall F. The architecture is distinctly Icelandic, in the style evolving towards the end of the tenth century and remaining in vogue into the thirteenth century.
The number of rooms varies according to need, as does their alignment. While the first Icelandic buildings seldom had more than three rooms, separated by wooden partitions, buildings of the late ninth to eleventh century had rooms added wherever needed, whether along the lengthwise axis of the building or to its sides. Interior walls of sod and the lack of stone foundations are further typical characteristics of this early Icelandic style. Entrances are in the middle of the side walls.
Fireplaces are by the walls, and posts set along the walls can occur, which was the case in one room of hall A. The central long fires, consisting of a stone hearth, the cooking pit, and an ember pit are other typical features. The interior walls are of sod.
The side walls of the halls are often bowed, but may be straight. The end walls are always straight. The bronze pin is of a kind developed from Irish models in Norse Ireland and Scotland, between and being especially common aroundand used primarily for fastening clothing Fanning The same is true for the bone needle.
The small, carefully shaped needle hone with a square cross-section and tapering ends is characteristic of the Viking and early Middle Ages. The socket door-pivot base occurred in the Viking Age but continued in use for centuries. About 50 of these pertain to the Norse occupation. The great range in the dates show that caution must be used with radiocarbon dating.
The sheer number of dates for L'Anse aux Meadows permits one to see how the nature of the samples submitted for dating influences the results.
Eighteen samples consist of charcoal from hearths, 14 of worked wood, two of building posts, seven of small twigs and branches, six of wall sod or other peat, and one of whale bone. They gave very different results. They cannot be precise because centuries of plant material have been compressed into a thin band. Ignoring this effect means that the radiocarbon ages of sea mammal remains appear older than they really are, in calendar years.
The marine reservoir age for Newfoundland waters is as much as radiocarbon years Marine Reservoir Correction Database. The whale does not, therefore, likely belong to the Norse phase. If the sample consists of the heart wood of a long-lived wood species, such as spruce, it can yield a radiocarbon date centuries older than when the artifact was made and used. The 14 dates on the worked wood from the Norse deposits yielded probable dates ranging from AD to AD Figure 9.
Yet from the stratification it is clear that we are dealing with a single occupation and a short one at that. So what has happened? The oldest date was from a plank of spruce, shaped with a metal broad axe, which lay in close association with a slim stake of Balsam fir. The spruce plank gave the date ADthe stake ADyet the two were clearly discarded at the same time.
Live spruce can be up to years old in northern Sweden, and ages of or more years have been demonstrated in Labrador spruce Jacoby and Ulan The plank had been cut from the very centre of the tree, and the sample sent for dating was cut from the centre of the plank. It is only natural that this plank may have been cut from a tree several hundred years older than the slim Balsam fir branch, which would have been young when it was cut and put to use.
Figure 9 Display large image of Figure 9 43 Charcoal dates had a similar span, ranging from AD to This is what one would expect in an area where the wood used as fuel was primarily dead wood, which had accumulated over several centuries, when the site was only intermittently and sparsely occupied by the Middle Dorset and Recent Indians. By contrast, the dates on short-lived wood samples, such as twigs and branches ranged between andwith a mean date of Thanks to the fact that the halls follow known Icelandic room layouts, for which sleeping space requirements are known, we can determine the number of people the L'Anse aux Meadows buildings could accommodate.
People generally slept in pairs, on platforms on each side of the halls, lying along the main axis of the building. The halls had sleeping space for 60 to 78 individuals, house B for two to three and the huts C, E, and G for an additional five to 11, meaning that something like 70 to 90 people inhabited the settlement.
On the other hand, the textile working implements -- the spindle whorl, needle hone, and bone pin -- indicate the presence of women. If the stones were loom weights, they would have been used by women, but if they were net sinkers, their users would have been men. Beads were worn by both men and women, so are not indicators of gender. Throughout, there is little evidence of normal household activities, in the form of broken soapstone vessels and dairy pantries, small household knives, and looms.