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It was a long journey but we got there.

Most children are told that America was 'discovered' by Christopher Columbus in 1492.

But another story has been told ... the story of Leif Eriksson, who reached America 500 years before Columbus.

Leif was probably born at Ericsstadir in Iceland about 970-980. As a child he moved with his parents to Greenland and grew up on the farm at Brattahlid.

It was a tradition that young Viking men make a voyage back to Norway, the land of their ancestors. Leif travelled to Norway in 999 and stayed with King Olav Trygvasson. While he was staying with the King he became a Christian.

The King told Leif to go back to  Greenland and bring Christianity to its people. What happened then is not quite clear ..

One story says

As Leif was sailing back to Greenland he was driven off course  and accidently found new lands. In one place there were fields of wild wheat and grapevines.

Leif named the country Vinland. On the way back to Greenland he found men on a wrecked ship and rescued them, after which he made his way to his father’s home in Brattahlid. This took place in the year 1000 according to Snorri Sturluson. 

Another story says

In 986 Bjarni Herjulfsson, a trader from  Iceland, was blown far off course by a fierce storm between Iceland and Greenland. He said that he had seen strange hilly, heavily forested land far to the west. Herjulfsson never set foot on its shores.

The story tells that Leif wanted to see for himself the lands which Bjarni had seen so he bought Bjarni's ship and set off to the west.

Leif came first to a flat and stony land which they named Flat-Stone Land. Then they sailed further south and found another piece of land which was level and wooded, and they named this Forest Land. Then they sailed a long way south and reached a country where there were grapevines and self-sown wheat.

Flat-Stone Land was probably Baffin Island, while Forest Land was possibly part of Labrador.

So which is true? Did Lief really discover America?

Archaelogogists had looked for Viking evidence in America ... none had been found.

But then in 1961 at the northern tip of Newfoundland, at a place called "L'Anse aux Meadows."  they found evidence of buildings, jewelry, tools, slag iron, and coal ... Vikings!!

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If you would like some more detail about Leif, visit the Viking Network Website. Learn about the first European birth & death in North America.
Take a virtual tour of L'Anse aux Meadows parcscanada.jpg (5270 bytes)

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