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The Vikings

One of the reasons that Newfoundland has recently become a great tourist attraction is because of the discovery of the earliest European settlement of North America. This site is now the National Historic Site at L'Anse aux Meadows. This site was occupied almost 500 years before Columbus sailed.


The foundations of the original settlement were found. One is shown here with a label about its original purpose and contents.


Buildings that are thought to be similar to those built by the Vikings, staffed by actors in costume, have  been built near the original settlement. The day we visited was very foggy.
The Viking buildings all were constructed from hewed wood and had turf roofs. Fires were in the center of the buildings for heat and cooking. A few rocks marked the fire location and served to support cooking utensils.  The small windows near the top were for ventilation. There were no chimneys. Smoke and burning embers were a constant problem. Roof fires were thought to be common.  The roof turf is largely peat, so fires could not be  easily extinguished.

In addition to the Historic Site, there is a commercial site, Norstead, a short distance along the road past the historic site. Norstead also has reconstructed buildings and actors. They are possibly better for viewing than the historic site in that the place is a little larger, and, on the rainy day we visited, there was no crowd. We actually visited Norstead first because there was no place to park in the historic site's parking lot. Actually, both sites should be visited. The historic site to see and understand the original settlement, and Norstead to see the reconstructed buildings and other artifacts. 

A voyage was made a few years ago in a reconstructed, open boat of the type sailed by the Vikings.  I believe the voyage started in Iceland, and finished in Newfoundland. The boat used in that voyage is now in Norstead. It is stored in a boat shed, above, with mast, sails, and a small rowboat of the same era.

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