Viking Voyages to Iceland, Greenland and North America c. 985–1020


Map Code: Ax00556

The first sighting of North America by the Norse was when a trader, Bjarni Herolfson, was blown off course on a voyage to western Greenland in 986. Word of his discovery excited the interest of Leif Eriksson, son of Erik the Red, the founder of the Greenland colony. Using Bjarni’s ship and tracking his route in reverse, Leif made three landfalls: a barren place, possibly Baffin Island he called Helluland (‘Flat–stone Land); a forested place he christened Markland (possibly Labrador), and finally, a more temperate place, rich in wild berries – Vinland. He overwintered in Vinland for two years. Vinland has been identified as Newfoundland, which would appear to be confirmed by the discovery in the 1960s of Viking remains at L’Anse aux Meadows on the northern tip of the island. Two further expeditions are reported by the Chronicles, by Leif’s brother, then in around 1009, by Thorfinn the Valiant.

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