L’Anse aux Meadows: Norse Viking Village

Norse Vikings Drunkphotography.com
First European-adjacent (non-Indigenous to Canada) Settlers to Canada (Uese Google Photosphere)
L'Anse aux Meadows National Historic Site Drunkphotography.com Otis DuPont
L’Anse aux Meadows National Historic Site

Like I keep saying, I take trips that these people my age don’t think are fun and entertaining, so I just ditch them and go myself, to experience cultures and learn something- and hope to get a workout in between!  I was out in the beautiful land of L’Anse aux Meadows (butchered French for “Jellyfish Cove”- the real origin of name is still a mystery), Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada, and went to see the northern Peninsula, once inhabited by the Norse (Vikings), long before the French and British arrived, making them the first documented foreigners settlers in Canada.  This particular site is the only known and confirmed Viking settlement in all of North America, is set at around the year 1000, and if that’s to be believed, then it was of Leif Eriksson! which was final proof of pre-Columbian foreign explorers to North America (before Christopher Columbus and John Cabot the Columbus of Canada).  The Norse had originally sailed to this point from Greenland, set up camp, and made their expeditions out of this area, but based on what archaeologists gathered, this was home to the Norse when they stayed in Canada.  A couple of renown Viking archaeologist Helge Ingstad and his wife Anne made their way to Canada and had to put their minds and clues together to reveal the history in this region, in the 1960s.  Helge came searching for signature signs of Vikings encampments, which felt would be low turf walls or low mounds when he saw this land’s makeup.  He asked locals if they knew any geographical areas matching that description and the area’s leading figure pointed out an area that he and local fishermen dismissed as just some simple “old Indian camp”.  That old Indian camp turned out to be a great archaeological find in the area,  an old Viking camp.   I’m sure the locals were kicking themselves for just overlooking that area.  The Vikings buried or burned down everything they built, in the area, to erase their footprint though, but there are artifacts located in this site, on display, which were recovered, repaired or re-created.  The site has been re-constructed, utilizing the same techniques of the Norse, structures made of stone base, wood, and grass sod combinations.

L'Anse aux Meadows National Historic Site Drunkphotography.com Otis DuPont
Tools of the Trade
the 'mudroom' of the times L'Anse
the ‘mudroom’ of the times for your dirty crap

I have watched plenty of Viking shows, movies, etc and I had never known that they built like this (Turf Longhouses).  Apparently, this is the typical style you would get from those coming from Greenland or Iceland, as Helge quickly pointed out. I always saw encampment with tents only, and a big Longhouse for more rich king types at home, which is most likely the Vikings was on the move to invade someone, so it’s a quick setup and then done, but even those were burned eventually. They always burned down something to symbolize the end or point of no return of something.  Funerals, encampments, etc, the END is burning that thing down. If they came for war, by boat they burned those after making landfall, because that signifies to the enemy that they are there to stay and they are playing for keeps!  It’s why you won’t find many Viking ships, but they have one tiny one in this location on display.   Then the other technique is to bury something. They’d not make this kind of setup that I saw unless it was a permanent home, I guess. If you saw it from afar, you’d not know it was a house, it just looks like a hill!  They had metal tools for building things, they were masters builders of tools, apparently. I saw things like hammers, wrenches and all kinds of things lined up in what was their toolboxes of the time.  There were buckets just like you see in Hollywood movies and metal pails that are used for cooking/boiling food, over a fire, laying around the sites.   They were obviously great with woodwork, so I went searching around to see if they had tools that would be used to cut/chop up the wood, and I stumbled on the tool shed room where they had all kinds of things like saws and axes!  And they had multiple variations of saws, long ones for cutting down trees and tiny hand-saws too. They had some screwdriver kind of gadget that was huge, but they used it to fasten some kind of screw. Mind you, when they build this form on the longhouse, it was built to also contain the “garage” of the times, which is these wood and metal rooms to create things from.  You can’t go dragging your crap into the main house, so you have the ‘mudroom’ if you will so put your dirty crap at. So rooms and shop were in the Longhouse here, a style known only as “HALL A”.

L'Anse aux Meadows National Historic Site Drunkphotography.com Otis DuPont
L’Anse aux Meadows National Historic Site
L'Anse aux Meadows National Historic Site Drunkphotography.com
Re-constructed Viking home (built on top of the original location of the home)
L'Anse aux Meadows National Historic Site Drunkphotography.com Otis DuPont
L’Anse aux Meadows National Historic Site

These replicas are ones you go inside of and get the experience of, it’s very interactive, complete with actors inside.  The houses were made to scale, and it was amazing how well they kept in heat (it was 30 degrees outside). They had started a fire inside, in only 1 room, yet all of the rooms in that building were above 80 degrees with that 1 fire in the far room! Very amazing builders were these Vikings.  Their homes always contained multiple rooms for various things, when it’s built in longhouse form.  I thought the place would smell like fire all day but they have chimney systems scatter throughout the home, keeping a nice temperature mix throughout. The house is sacred and is one with the soul in Viking culture, so each one is made with careful consideration, as a personal reflection. So I’d assume that since they feel the home and the soul are bonded, and a Viking funeral is burning the body to free it of its ligaments, well you burn the home when it’s all over too, and your footprint is removed from this earth and releases to the universe. Pretty poetic folks!

L'Anse aux Meadows National Historic Site Drunkphotography.com Otis DuPont
L’Anse aux Meadows National Historic Site

As you walk this vast land, there are artifacts scattered about for you to inspect or interact with. You can actually go put on a helmet, hold a sword and don a shield like a Viking.  We were all playing dress up, and I might have caught crabs from it, I dunno… no, yeah, wait yeah… yeah… that’s where that case of crabs came from! 😉

L'Anse aux Meadows National Historic Site Drunkphotography.com Otis DuPont
L’Anse aux Meadows National Historic Site
L'Anse aux Meadows National Historic Site Drunkphotography.com Otis DuPont
L’Anse aux Meadows National Historic Site
L'Anse aux Meadows National Historic Site Drunkphotography.com Otis DuPont
L’Anse aux Meadows National Historic Site

Like most of Newfoundland, the area of the L’Anse aux Meadows National Historic Site is pretty flat, however, there will be quite a bit of walking if you wish to see the whole place’s exterior, along with the Birchy Nuddick Trail, which will take you roughly an hour.  An additional 45 minutes will be needed if you are going to traverse any inner trains within the coastal setup. It’s probably wise to go on a sunny day, but maybe during an off-season (after labor day), if you actually want to see something without a thousand people all in your way.  It’s truly a beautiful thing, get down to the pond, see the coast and the sites, if you wish to experience a nice, relaxing walk. There is a LOT to see so I won’t post the BEST pics I got from this visit, you’re just going to have to see for yourself and make your own Viking adventure.  I hit up PARCS CANADA and then plot the journeys, I recommend you do the same since it used to be about $5k to get out to this region, and now it’s less than $2k! So go see some Vikings, hell you’re BLUETOOTH was inspired by lovers of their Norse history. Vikings are badass!

L'Anse aux Meadows National Historic Site Drunkphotography.com Otis DuPont
The vast amount of land to walk and discover

As always, the finished products can be found on the main site of www.drunkphotography.com.