The Vikings of L’Anxe aux Meadows UNESCO Heritage Site

Along the thirty or so kilometres to L’Anxe aux Meadows from St Anthony, I finally spotted a tiny piece of white floating in the distance. That was my iceberg, the only one I was going to see. Had I started my visit on Newfoundland’s west coast and travelled east, instead of the reverse, I would have been three weeks earlier and probably spotted something substantial.

L’Anxe aux Meadows, where I was headed, was the stuff of Vikings. In 1968 when a cloak pin was discovered by a husband-and-wife archeological team, this confirmed the Scandinavian sagas of Leif Erickson that they had travelled from Iceland and Greenland to Vinland. Situated on the Newfoundland’s Great Northern Peninsula by Islands Bay, dwellings, a forge and workshops were unearthed in the same style as Norse, Greenland and Iceland during the same period. They have since been reburied to preserve the proof of the first Europeans arriving in North America in the 11th century. 

Instead, there was a small museum on the nearly 8 000 square hectare site.  Artifacts found at the Viking settlement indicated that they were involved in woodwork and produced iron. Replacing the original buried buildings, was a sod house and cellar reconstructed in the Viking style using materials they once used, so the visitor had a sense of what had stood on the location. Inside the sod was a dirt floor with a musty odour from the dampness of the island. Near these replicas was a hollow in the ground where some other building might have once stood.

On the way back to the car park, I followed the circular trail along the cliffs, past a bog to my car thinking that, although stories of Vikings raiding and plundering had never interested me, it was still impressive to walk over the very ground the Vikings had once inhabited. Since my visit Norstead has been added not far away—a place to raid and blunder tourists.

One thought on “The Vikings of L’Anxe aux Meadows UNESCO Heritage Site”

  1. Even though it’s small, I really enjoyed L’Anse aux Meadow. We’re watching Vikings Vallhala now, one of the main characters is Leif Erickson so we wonder if they show will ever take him to Nfld. Maggie

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