|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
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 fathers 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
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
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
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!!
||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