L’Anse aux Meadows National Historic Site

Photo by D. Gordon E. Robertson

Background

  • Name of Site: L’Anse aux Meadows
  • Location: Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada
  • Year Added: 1978
  • Criteria: (vi) to be directly or tangibly associated with events or living traditions, with ideas, or with beliefs, with artistic and literary works of outstanding universal significance
  • Number of Sites in Canada: 6

Basic Archaeological Site Information

  • Size: 4ha
  • Time Period: 11th century
  • Cultural Period: Viking Age
  • Cultural Group: Norse settlement

Archaeological Summary

In 1960 a Norwegian explorer by the name of Helge Ingstad discovered the site at L’Anse aux Meadows.  What looked like a cluster of overgrown hills turned out to be the remains of a Viking colony.  Helge Ingstad and his wife, Anne Stine, led an excavation of the site for the next eight years.  The types of buildings and artifacts they found matched those of Iceland and Greenland around the year 1,000 A.D.

Outlines of eight Viking long houses were unearthed, which were built of sod and laid over a supporting frame.  Based on associated artifacts, the houses were identified as either dwellings or workshops.  Things like rivets as well as iron slag and a forge were found indicating a boat repair workshop and an iron smithy.  Material remains such as a bone needle and spindle whorl suggest the presence of women at the settlement.

L’Anse aux Meadows is accepted to be substantial proof of the earliest occupation of Europeans in the Americas.  The site is evidence that Vikings indeed settled on the coast of North America at least 500 years before columbus.  It remains a milestone in the history of human exploration and discovery.

Photo by: Tom Kroeger

Threats

There are no known threats to this site at this time.

Additional Information

According to an ancient Viking saga, there is a fabled place called Vinland along the North American coast which was settled by Norse explorers.  It is described as a narrow peninsula extending into the sea: a rich land, lush with meadows, forests and bubbling streams.  While no expert has been able to positively identify it as such, there is much speculation about whether L’Anse aux Meadows is in fact this legendary land.

Links

http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/4/

http://www.pc.gc.ca/eng/lhn-nhs/nl/meadows/natcul.aspx

Photos

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:L%27Anse_aux_Meadows,_The_Meeting_of_Two_Worlds.jpg

http://www.zorlo.com/school/vikings.html

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