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L'Anse aux Meadows

L'Anse aux Meadows (literally Cove in the Meadow or Meadow Inlet) is a site on the northernmost tip of the island of Newfoundland, in Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada, where the remains of a Viking village were discovered in 1960 by the Norwegian explorer Dr. Helge Ingstad and his archaeologist wife, Anne Stine Ingstad.

It is located at .

The only authenticated Viking settlement in North America, it was the site of a multi-year archaeological dig that found dwellings, tools and implements that verified its time frame. The settlement, dating more than 500 years before Christopher Columbus, contains the earliest European structures in North America. Named a World Heritage site by UNESCO, it is believed to be the semi-legendary 'Vinland' settlement of explorer Leifur EirÝksson around 1000 AD. This atribution is debated by historians; see Vinland for details.

The climate in Newfoundland then was signifigantly warmer than it is today. As recounted in the saga, Leifur set forth from Greenland to search for the land Bjarni Herjˇlfsson had told him of. He found a land rich with grapes, salmon, and a frost free winter, and returned to harvest lumber to take back to tree-poor Greenland. L'Anse aux Meadows has been identified as the first camp made, as the camp made after fleeing hostile SkrŠlings, or neither.

The settlement at L'Anse aux Meadows consisted of at least 8 buildings, including a forge and smelter, and a lumberyard that supported a shipyard. The saga describes a colonizing attempt led by Thorfinn Karlsefni, with as many as 135 men and 15 women, who used Leifur's camp as a base. Sewing and knitting tools found at the site indicate women were present at L'Anse aux Meadows.

The site was only used for 2 or 3 years. Intergroup conflict over women and unexpected weather have both been suggested as the cause.

L'Anse aux Meadows may also be connected to the Algonquin legend of a Kingdom of Saguenay populated by a race of blond men rich in furs and metals, but this is only conjecture.


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Last updated: 05-27-2005 14:23:01
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