How far south and west did the Vikings fare?

A knothead?

“The Vikings sailed great distances in their iconic longships. To the west, they established settlements in Iceland, Greenland, and eventually a base at L’Anse aux Meadows, Newfoundland, Canada. However, it has remained unclear when this first transatlantic activity took place. Here, scientists show that Europeans were present in the Americas in 1021 AD — precisely 1000 years ago this year. This date also marks the earliest known point by which the Atlantic had been crossed, and migration by humankind had finally encircled the entire planet.”

Comment: There is the little puzzle of the Kensington runestone. It was supposedly found gripped tight in the roots of of a very old tree in Minnesota.

“Vinland?” There are no wild grapes in northern Newfoundland. You have to travel far to the south to find them. New Brunswick is the northern limit of both wild grapes and of the fruit of the butternut tree which was found in the Viking settlement at Anse aux Meadows. pl

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11 Responses to How far south and west did the Vikings fare?

  1. Lars says:

    The “vin” in Vinland comes from “vinbär”, which are currants that have been used to make juice for a very long time in Scandinavia. I expect that they found some on this side of the big sea too.

    • Pat Lang says:

      As far north as Anse aux Meadows?

      • Lars says:

        They can be found in northern Scandinavia and there is a reason why the name Greenland came about at the time, since it is mainly just ice, but was warmer at the time. Making fermented liquids from juices predates the Viking by a lot. The reason they named the berries “vin” is because it was used for fermentation.

    • Leith says:

      Lars –

      SWMBO’s brother married a Swedish-American girl. After the wedding dinner her father, who was from the old country, brought out a half dozen different varieties of Swedish Aquavit for toasting the happy marriage. IIRC one of them was labelled as having your ‘vinbär’ infused flavoring. Had a very distinctive flavor, never tasted anything like it before or since.

      But I don’t think those northern European currants were native to the western hemisphere. So perhaps the Vikings did get down to New Brunswick or Nova Scotia or even further south and found wild grapes. Or maybe they mistook gooseberries or bearberries for the currants they new from back home?

  2. fakebot says:

    An Irish monk, St. Brendan, and his three man crew may have been the first to make the voyage across the Atlantic to Newfoundland (possibly as far down as the Bahamas). He was in his mid 80s when they set sail. The plausibility of their voyage has been tested and it was certainly possible. Reading between the lines and sorting out the truth from his folklore, I think it’s a possibility worth considering.

  3. TTG says:

    It seems logical that Vikings, willing to explore and settle as far as Anse aux Meadows, would continue to explore further along the coast, down the Saint Lawrence and even inland. Their knarrs were well suited for such exploring.

    I have no faith in the Kensington Runestone. There are so many things wrong with it that is most likely a hoax.

    • Lars says:

      It is interesting that you used “knarr” as a name for their vessels, since that word translates as “creak” and I am sure those crafts did a lot of that given how they were built.

  4. hans says:

    My grandfather was a woodworker, boat builder, high school shop teacher. And 100% Norwegian. In the fall I’d go into the woods in western Wisconsin with him to harvest different kinds of vines (butternuts too).

    Once home he’d clean the vines, put ’em in 55 gallon barrels and soak ’em for a few weeks in some solution, I’ve no idea what – I was 8 of 9 yrs old and my function was to get up trees and get the vines down (you tell grandma I’ll skin ya).

    Anyway, whatever it was soaked in got the natural curl out; braided they made pretty good lashing.

  5. walrus says:

    If the Vikings made it further south, one wonders if there might be genetic traces in Indian stock.

    • hans says:

      I knocked around in the high north (Ellesmere, Baffin) 50 yrs ago and an occasional blond and or a full-bearded Eskimo wasn’t that uncommon – rare, but it happened. Knud Rasmussen reported incidences of this when he was in the same area in the 1920s and early 30s. Human-like rock cairns or inuksuk that the locals denied making as they were built and located in ways they would not have done have also been ascribed to the Norsk.

      Trying to exactly prove how far the Norwegians got would be a great life’s work.

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