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The Vikings in America and Greenland

The Scandinavian Vikings, sailing in their longboats, were the masters of the North Atlantic from the ninth to the twelfth centuries AD. The word "Viking" refers to slipping into small streams called “viks” to plunder unsuspecting villagers. The Vikings were the Norse, a Scandinavian sea-faring people from Norway, Denmark, Finland and Sweden. By the end of the eighth century, they ruled Ireland, and by the end of the ninth they also controlled large areas of England and France. By the end of the tenth century, they had colonized Greenland, sailed to America a number of times, ventured down the Volga as far as the Caspian Sea and were actively trading in the Mediterranean and parts beyond.

The Vikings not only discovered North America, they also established at least one colony there, in Newfoundland, around 1,000 AD—almost 500 years before Columbus set sail for America. Recent archeological research has verified the accounts of the Viking presence in America at that time. The Scandinavians called the new land “Vinland”— probably meaning that grapes grew there and also suggesting the climate in Newfoundland was much more moderate than it is today. There is considerable evidence that the Viking exploration and trading in the new world was more extensive than just in Newfoundland, but only the visits to Newfoundland are accepted as being beyond serious question.

North Atlantic Viking sailing routes from 1.000 to 1200 AD

[McGovern and Perdikaris, 2000]

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