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Vinland Rediscovered          
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(This report is dedicated to my co-researcher, Monica)
edited by Dr.David


          Discovery:          Sometimes its finding something for the first time: But sometimes it'’ finding something important that has been lost, like King Solomon’s mines or Noah’s Ark.  Discovery is a word that sets the blood moving….

          Parks Canada thinks that Vinland was discovered in Newfoundland.   They made a park at L’Anseaux Meadows to show off the discovery.  While in reality, Vinland is out here on the other side of Canada, in another park that was set up simply to showcase the beauty of the West Coast. 

          How dare anyone question the wisdom of those experts?  Well, Vinland was a name given by Vikings to a place they found and the way to locate Vinland is therefore to follow their (record) retrace their voyages, and locate the area where the settlement they called Vinland was built. 

        clipviship.jpg (2904 bytes)  I’m not saying that there aren't’t the remains of a Nordic settlement in Newfoundland.  There pretty surly are- the Vikings were incredible invaders and even Native Legends from here to the Mohawks, describe them as the “people of motion.”  My point is that Viking descriptions of Vinland the Good do not point to Newfoundland. Was there a different Viking site, probably the one they called New Ireland.

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Vinland, the Viking’s plainly tell, contained giant trees, giant salmon, and vines with fine, fat wine berries.  These things don’t grow today in Newfoundland and we have no evidence that they did when the climate was warmer. 
salalberries.jpg (47464 bytes)Eastern Canadian salmon are smaller than Norwegian and even Swedish salmon- they would not have impressed Vikings as immense.  Neither would Eastern Canadian trees.  The salmon and trees of the B.C. Coast are bigger than any recorded Scandinavian counterparts… they would have looked awesome.
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In Vinland they found Quartzite and Anthracite coal, you can’t find these things on the East Coast. 

ag00092_1.gif (502 bytes)This is anthracite coal and their is a quartzite deposit less then 2 miles up stream.
The coal comes from the smelter [winter cave]. on Vancouver island.

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Leif Eriksson discovered Vinland in 996.  That’s important!  From 800 to sometime between 1200 and 1400 AD. The Arctic Ice pack was far smaller than it has been since then.  Viking sailors could roam the Arctic Ocean during the warmer half of the year.. something nobody can do now. 

          Being able to roam the Arctic, the Vikings almost certainly did.. such was their nature and their navigational skills were already superb.  Their reports of latitude were accurate to less than half a degree, perhaps to a tenth or a twentieth-  a fact we will meet again.      Map below….. 

Vinland…     The sagas tell us that Eriksson’s first voyage to Vinland was a year long: about ten years after returning to Greenland he came back with a larger party and stayed three years. Reading the old accounts, I get a strong intuition that after Eriksson’s larger party abandoned Vinland, parties from Scandinavia – the territories of what we know today as Iceland,Norway, Denmark, and Sweden were Differently arranged then—tried to return to Vinland and never made it back home.
When the arctic ocean froze over-- 1400 AD. or a bit earlier-- Viking travel was restricted to the Arctic ocean and the Eurasian mainland. Regular sea travel through the northwest passage never resumed, though special parties led by the heaviest ice breakers can navigate the area [if the purpose, of the voyage justifies the immense cost.]It has been centuries since people thought of the Arctic Ocean as open sea
To find Vinland, one must imagine the Vikings perspective, In a time the southern Arctic Ocean was reliably open during the warm part of the year. Then the accounts in the sagas make sense.
Leif's account begins in 995, in Greenland. Lief tells his father, Erik the Red, how he was blown southward of course while in route from Iceland: map4na.jpg (2540 bytes)He accidentally found two large Islands [today Newfoundland and Baffin island]and a part of north American mainland [probably Labrador, Which would have been well wooded in that warmer time]. He proposes to sail  westward and explore what is obviously a large amount of new land. [Saga  quotations are in the translation found in Farley Mowat's Far West.]

[See The lost Vikings]

map2na.jpg (13871 bytes)The saga continues..."They made their ship ready for sea ;when all was ready they sailed ...reaching an island which lay to the northward of the country[ the inhabited south of the west coast of Greenland].[1] see map 1 . They went up and looked about in fine weather[2].After that they returned to their ship and sailed through the sound which lay between the island and that cape which projected northward from the land itself".[3]
Heading northward [and a bit westward] from south Greenland [which is the only part of that huge island that was ever inhabited] the large island one reaches is plainly Baffin island; the translation doesn't tell me clearly if "they looked about them " refers to exploring one island or several."up there" seems to me to refer to the northward- projecting cape [ellesmere Island]. in any  case, the sound they sailed through after exploring Baffin island and probably some nearby islands is known as Lancaster Sound.

"They sailed westward around the cape"[4]. contains the saga: and from the north end of Baffin Island it is basically westward all  the  way to the north cape --   Alaska, at point Barrow.--- See Map#1
bcvin.jpg (23421 bytes)" There they found many hellur. there were many arctic foxes there.   They gave a name to this country and called it helluland[H]. From thence they sailed for two days and bore away from the south toward the southeast, until they reached a wooded country containing many animals[I]. An island lay off to the southeast of this country[J].  Then they sailed southward along this land;  after two days they came to a cape" [K]. At this point they had reached Vinland.
...... see Map # 2 .....

If the directions were to leave Greenland and sail south west for 1 week till you hit a wooded land, then sail south along the coast till you hit a cape. From the cape, sail to the viking out post situated on the rock[Newfouldland]   Then yes "Vinland is Newfoundland" map3na.jpg (20321 bytes)

Vinland---Mowat's rendering of the sagas leaves room for two interpretations--either lieafs party rounded the north part of Baffin island [sailing a very short was westward] and then wound its way back through the north end of Hudson's Bay, down Davis Strait  off the coast of Labrador, to L'anse aux Meadows; or they sailed a long way west and came down the west coast of north America. Between these coasts there is no way to reach the 49th Parallel by sea-the southern end of James bay is at latitude 5? . [in any case, the description of Vinland bears no resemblance to James bay.] Obviously, there are gaps in the account; and to decide which coast Lief Erikson reached, one must look at the length of the voyage and his description of the place.
The saga account doesn't cover 90 days; but it is recorded that it took that long. A Viking ship could sail, say 100 miles in a day. The journey from southwest Greenland through the Northwest passage, around Alaska, to the Alexander Archipelago; would total less then 6000 miles. From there south to the 49th Parallel would be  500-600 miles. A three month voyage could reach the west Coast with ample time for shore exploration; while it would be wastefully long to go from Greenland to Newfoundland-- even around Baffin island, and it is hard to imagine taking such a circuitous rout to a place Lief had already reached by accident, and could have gone to more directly in a week or two!
Seen on a globe, the shortest route from Greenland to point Barrow is through the northwest passage; and the halfway point of the joinery is located somewhere on the north coast of Baffin Island.
Wherever the gap in the account may have been, sailing southeast from Alaska, via the Alexander Archipelago and the Queen Charlotte Islands and or- the northern B.C. coast, Lief's party would indeed have met trees and "many animals".
1mitchf.jpg (5909 bytes)By the time they reached the 49th parallel, those trees could have been 15-20 feet thick-- nowhere in Europe or Northeastern North America do we know of any tree more than 6-8 feet thick; and those biggest trees include oaks and beaches with which the Vikings would already have been similar. In a warmer climate, Newfoundland could have contained 6 foot white pines , perhaps; but that's about the upper limit.  Such trees would not have been huge compared with what a similar "climate enhancement" would have produced in Scandinavia. West Coast species, however, would have impressed even Vikings. The same is true of the "huge salmon" to which the sagas refer: Newfoundland salmon are smaller than Scandinavian salmon, which in turn are smaller than Chinook salmon.

The Vikings clearly refer to the "Island of Vinland", and their Vinland map is a rough mirror image of Vancouver island.  The best interpretation I can make of this fact is two fold:vanislandf.jpg (1760 bytes) vinmap1.jpg (1637 bytes)They knew the world was round; and the Vinland Image is reversed to Symbolize that Vinland is on the other side of the world.
Sailing the northernmost waters , the Vikings would have ready evidence that longitudinal distances were shorter, the farther north one goes.  This might have been much less evident to low-latitude sailors; because the closer one gets to the pole, the greater the effect of a north south difference. Having traveled to or beyond the equator, they would also have noticed that day lengths differ both by season and by latitude
"Discoveries can only happen when you go where something is -- you cannot find it where it is not. We need to remember to listen to the views and stories of others, and be willing to accept them. "
Native legends, some of them published, tell of stories of Vikings having visited this coast. If we accept the truthfulness of the Vikings, they tell us how to find Vinland: It is a three-month voyage from Greenland. Newfoundland is not. Giant trees and salmon are here, not on the northwest peninsula of Newfoundland. The Vinland map looks more like our Island then "The Rock".
With In paddling distance of where I sit now sits the Remains of the most famous lost Viking kingdom ever"Vinland"
Paul DeMontigny 1995

more to come

On to Vinland 1999

bact to Viking home page