New Norse Site in Newfoundland

Archaeologist Sarah Parcak in Newfoundland. (National Geographic).

The discovery of Norse ruins at L’Anse aux Meadows, Newfoundland, in 1960 proved once and for all that the sagas were right: settlers from Iceland and/or Greenland came to North America.

Now a new discovery on the other side of the island suggests even more of a Norse presence.

After studying the area and researching prior land surveys, the archaeologists have identified other characteristics that would have made Point Rosee an optimum site for Norse settlers: The southern coastline of the peninsula has relatively few submerged rocks, allowing for anchoring or even beaching ships; the climate and soil in the region is especially well-suited for growing crops; there’s ample fishing on the coast and game animals inland; and there are lots of useful natural resources, such as chert for making stone tools and turf for building housing.

But the clincher is evidence of iron-working, something no indigenous people did.

3 Comments

  1. Robert Mathiesen says:

    This is wonderful news! L’Anse aux Meadows is at the northern tip of the large island that is Newfoundland; Point Rosee is at its southwestern tip. From the space photos and preliminary excavations, both sites look to have been outlying settlements made to use resources such as bog iron. If there was a somewhat larger main settlement — the two Vinland Sagas suggest that there was one –, it was probably elsewhere, perhaps on the mainland side of the island at a good harbor.

    It shouldn’t be forgotten that Lee Gandee, who was stationed for a while at the US base near Stephenville, sometime during or after WW2, reports how a young man from an unnamed very small village not too far away had told him there was a place near his village where villagers had found iron swords and axes, and at least one runestone (_Strange Experience_, pp. 281-282). Gandee was an inveterate tale-spinner, but even so his throw-away comment strikes me as worth following up by archeologists someday. Where there are two sites, there may be more.

  2. Medeina Ragana says:

    Lee Gandee! I believe that it was Tam Mossman who edited Gandee’s book (Strange Experience, a copy of which I have). Mossman also edited all of Jane Robert’s Seth books as well.

    Gandee was, as you say, a wonderful storyteller.