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Chapter 10
Viking and Norse Stuff: Visiting L'Anse aux Meadows & Norstead
Thors-day, June 23
One of the premiere attractions of Newfoundland's Northern Peninsula is the fact that about 1,000 years ago, Vikings became the first Europeans to land and live in North America. The local tourism industry has embraced this with great fervour, and everywhere you go on the Northern Peninsula, there's viking-this and norse-that.

Although one may consider it all a little over-hyped, there are real reasons to celebrate this significant historical achievement. L'Anse Aux Meadows, the spot at which archeaological discoveries proved that this area hosted the first European settlement in 1000 A.D., is a Canadian National Historic Site and a UNESCO world heritage site. It is indeed quite amazing that explorers in 50-foot open wooden boats were able to manage the very harsh Northern Atlantic to travel to here.
White Cape Harbour
Duck and Chicks
L'Anse Aux Meadows Entrance
Given the norse-ness of our activities for the morning, it was appropriate that today was thursday -- or "Thor's day", in honour of the Norse god Thor. We drove north from St. Anthony towards the location of the Viking Settlement, about 30 minutes' drive north. The weather continued as blustery as ever, with a forecast of rain, wind, and a projected high of about 8 degrees C (remember, this is the end of June, and it is summertime!). Our first stop was at the L'Anse Aux Meadows site.
An intro to Vikings
The Ingstads
The Ingstads
L'Anse aux Meadows VC
So that's where Knorr comes from
Unesco Plaque
After briefly visiting the visitor center and watching a video about the Norwegian archaeologists who discovered the L'Anse Aux Meadows site, we headed back outside for a short hike along a trail that showcases the harsh but beautiful coastal tundra terrain. The harshness was highlighted by the stormy weather, of course, and we donned full upper and lower goretex to prevent us from becoming completely soaked and hypothermic.
courtesy JInnes
Andrew on Birchy Nuddick Tr
Pondside Boardwalk
Small Bay
The trail we took -- the Birchy Nuddick trail -- is a short loop of less than 3 kilometres. Much of the first part of the trail crosses tundra and bog on a very nice boardwalk, and the second part follows the coastline, eventually leading to the archeaological site.
Recreation, viking sod house
The Forge
Dwelling Remnant

After completing the Birchy Nuddick trail, we briefly toured through the archeaological site (which, although interesting, consists of not much more than raised outlines in grassy ground), then moved on to the recreations of the norse sod buildings. These are quite detailed and interesting. There are a number of outbuildings and one long, large 'chieftain's hut'. Inside it is fully decorated and staffed with 'in-character' vikings, doing a variety of tasks: ironsmithing, weaving, etc.
Replica Sod Structure
Sod structure
Viking Tent
Sod house construction
Entrance, main sod house
Bricks of Earth
Interior, Chieftain's House
Working on blacksmithing stuff
Viking weaving
Viking Loom
In-character at L'Anse aux Meadows
Section, sod house
Rugged Door
Re-created Structures
Interior, blacksmith shop recreationg
Sod structures, L'Anse aux Meadows
Meeting of Two Worlds
Skalholt map
Once finished with our bit of live viking history, we headed back to the parking lot, stopping along the way at the visitor center and learning a bit more about the heroic travels of Leif Eriksson.
Gesta Hammaburgensis
Greenlander's Saga
436 - The Viking Route
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[ Return to "Overland to the Rock" Home page | Introduction | French Connection | Transition to the North | Manicouagan & Monts Groulx | Mt Provencher & 389 North | Entering Labrador | Churchill Falls | The Trans-Labrador | Southern Labrador Coast | Northern Peninsula & St. Anthony | L'Anse aux Meadows | Norstead | Limestone Barrens and Wreck | Arches Provincial Park | Green Gardens Backpack Day 1 | Green Gardens Backpack Day 2 | Green Point | Western Brook Pond Backpack Day 1 | Western Brook Pond Backpack Day 2 | Twillingate/Crow Head Hike | Awk Island Winery | Heart's Content Cable Station | City of St. John's | Cape Spear | Ferry to Nova Scotia | Cape Breton to Bathurst | Bathurst, NB | In-depth: Provencher Climb | In-depth: Churchill Falls Hike | In-depth: Birchy Nuddick Hike | In-depth: Green Gardens Backpack | In-depth: Western Brook Pond Backpack | In-depth: Crow Head Hike, Twillingate | Where we drove | In-depth: Quebec Highway 389 | In-depth: The Trans-Labrador Highway | Video Clip Index | GPS Data ]


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