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Norse site of l'Anse-aux-Meadows, Newfoundland

Reconstructed Norse boat.

Period: Norse
Site: Settlement, UNESCO

Situated at the very tip of Newfoundland are the remains of wooden-framed peat and turf buildings. These are strikingly similar to those found to the east on Greenland and Iceland, and generally accepted to have been made by Norse Vikings. Excavated in the 1960s, and dated to the 11th Century, L’Anse-aux-Meadows is now accepted to be the only known Norse settlement in North America, and that this archaeological site is the earliest evidence for Europeans on the continent. Today, Parks Canada manage the site where three of the turf buildings have been reconstructed, and the visitors centre has exhibitions of Viking artefacts and lifestyle, as well as the discovery and excavation of the site.

Facilities & Visiting L’Anse-aux-Meadows:

entry-fee-dollar not-open-year-round opening-hours onsite-museum multimedia-guides onsite-information events family-chidren-activities wheelchair-accessible refreshments onsite-shop picnic-area toilets wheelchair-toilet parking

The earliest evidence for human activity in this area dates back some 6,000 years. Indigenous peoples seem to have been attracted to the area for its marine resources. The remains of about five or six distinct groups have been found here, the last being about 200 years before the arrival of the Vikings. But from the 11th Century, for about 500 years Norse sailors used this settlement either continuously or on a seasonal basis. Analysis of pollen and seeds from the archaeological deposits suggest that at this time there were substantial forests, providing the necessary wood for the buildings, boats and iron extraction.

Reconstructed sod house at L'Anse-aux-Meadows

Reconstructed Norse-style peat-turf house.

Archaeological excavations of the features of the settlement revealed a plan of three building complexes, each comprising a dwelling and a workshop, as well as the remains of a forge. The largest of the houses measured 24 m by 4.5 m, the others were only marginally smaller. The construction techniques used are similar to those used at much the same time in Norway: a wooden framed structure covered with peat taken from the nearby bogs, with a pointed roof, inner peat partitions and internal fireplaces. Some of the artefacts recovered include a stone oil lamp, a birch bark case and a balance. The remains of a clay pit furnace with slag indicated iron work. The forge and the 50 or so forged iron objects, including buckles, nails and rivets, indicate the significance of the site for the Nose sailors.

Further Information:

The photographs on this page are in the public domain, taken from Wikipedia.