Signals to Santa December 7, 2013
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The Heritage Shop at L’Anse aux Meadows will reopen on June 1, 2013 and close on September 30, 2013. It is open 7 days per week.
The Sagas written by the Norse in the 13th century tell the tale of Leif Eriksson finding a faraway land with lush fields and wild game inhabited by Skraelings (North American First Nations) around the year 1000 CE.
Eriksson and his crew, after exploring this land and gathering a cargo of grapes and lumber, travelled back to Greenland to announce their discoveries and prepare for more expeditions. With promises of prosperity a small band of people led by Thorfinn Karlsefni landed in what is now known as L’Anse aux Meadows, building dwellings, workshops, a forge, and more. Using this outpost as a base, crews explored the surrounding areas and gathered materials for trade.
Skraelings, the native inhabitants of the area, quickly became a problem as relations were increasingly hostile. While the Norse attempted to withstand the natives they were outnumbered, making continued settlement a dangerous prospect. After only a few years this outpost in North America failed and the Norse left L’Anse aux Meadows.
For over nine centuries this European discovery and settlement in North America, 400 years before the voyage of Christopher Columbus, remained a puzzle. While the Sagas indicated that the Vikings had been to North America no archaeological evidence had been found until 1960, when locals at L’Anse aux Meadows led Norwegian writer and explorer Helge Ingstad to a series of unusual patterns in the earth. Examination and excavation by Anne Stine Ingstad (Helge’s wife) revealed eight sod buildings constructed in the same style as those built by the Norse in Greenland and Iceland. Discoveries of artifacts quickly added to the evidence that the Norse had inhabited L’Anse aux Meadows.
The Norse were not the only people to inhabit this area; archaeological surveys have found evidence of aboriginal settlement dating back as far as 6000 years ago. Prominent among these finds are those of the Dorset Eskimo who made camps in the area 200 years before the Norse arrived. With the Sagas reporting contact between the Norse and Skraelings, L’Anse aux Meadows is the only confirmed location of Pre-Columbian contact.
The Viking settlement at L’Anse aux Meadows is now one of the greatest North American archaeological finds. Not only is it the sole confirmed Norse find in North America, it challenges our understanding of the discovery and knowledge of the New World. Due to both its unique nature and effects on our understanding of European contact UNESCO named L’Anse aux Meadows a World Heritage Site in 1978.
With reconstructed buildings, a trail takes visitors past the remains of the buildings, and into an interpretation centre and museum. Located in the Visitor Center you will find the Heritage Shop where visitors will be able to purchase Viking books and crafts.
L’Anse aux Meadows provides an excellent look at a meeting of worlds. Located near St. Anthony on the Northern Peninsula, L’Anse aux Meadows is open from spring to fall annually.