Doing History or, ‘Where is Vinland?’

“Thank goodness! Simply put, we need your help.A team of historians has been trying to solve some historical “cold cases” — old crimes in which the guilty ones walked, and even more insidious crimes where a whole village may have been complicit. There are other mysteries too, about unusual cases from the Viking age to the Klondike Gold Rush.The trouble is — it is not as easy as it looks. The evidence has not all survived and what clues remain often lead the historian-detectives down different paths. A fresh pair of eyes could really help.

Please check your preconceptions about “History” at the door. “Doing History” is not memorizing dates, politicians and wars. That is all just context. “Doing History” is the work of the detective, the gumshoe, the private eye — and we need you to take on this job. All we are left with are traces, artifacts, clues, hints and allegations. Putting those together, weighing the evidence, assessing the credibility of witness accounts, sorting out contradictions, and showing how your solution to the mysteries is the best of all the alternatives — that is “Doing History”.”

-the introduction, ‘Great Canadian Mysteries’

John Lutz and Ruth Sandwell have for some time been putting together fantastic packages of original materials, archival materials, video re-creations, and audio files that collectively explore some of the Great Canadian Mysteries of history (bet you didn’t think there were any?) Their latest, ‘Where is Vinland?‘, throws archaeological materials into the mix. At Anse-aux-Meadows, there is an undisputed Viking settlement – but Newfoundland is hardly a land of wine.

“This website will take you along Leif’s route to North America and Vinland. Where was this land? Many claim to have found it from northern Labrador all the way down to Virginia. Which is the real Vinland? Leif left only a few tantalizing clues as do medieval Icelandic manuscripts. Solving the mystery of Vinland requires putting these together with archaeological discoveries, a knowledge of what the Vikings were capable of, what their motivations might have been and an understanding of the people and environment of the land they encounterd. To understand the context of the Vinland voyages, this web site offers a tour through the Viking world, with brief stops in Europe, Iceland, and Greenland. To allow you to get a better grasp of Viking life, we have recreated the L’Anse Aux Meadows settlement and some of the Viking artifacts in a 3-D format. To understand their encounter with America you will also meet the people already in North America when the Norse arrived: the Aboriginal groups of the eastern seaboard.

There are many mysteries to solve here, and “Where was Vinland?” is just the start…”

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One thought on “Doing History or, ‘Where is Vinland?’

  1. This may sound very strange, but I have put the puzzle of Vinland together. I began working on it over 20 years ago, doing just what you say must be done – detective work. By using both versions of the sagas, I was able to confirm that they are both correct as relating to the geographical locations. It took many dozens of trips to the area to eventually tie everything in. It took 10 times as much time researching using the sagas and maps.

    I found Keel Point after locating Leif’s Booths general area (where one requires an island (size not given)and northward running point, sand bars and a river.

    From there I was able to finally locate Keel point which must be to the north (distance not given). Once at Keel Point, finding Thorvald’s
    gravesite was not so difficult, but there were a number of points within the estuary which of course is given as north of Keel Point.

    Keel Point really is the hinge which ties both saga versions together, as it is mentioned in both. The other places such as Struamfjord and Struamey Island (with birds eggs everywhere) is exactly where it should be – between Keel Point and Leif’s base camp. I even located the very rare east coast river which runs from east to west nearby to Thorvald’s grave just as it should be. One version of the sagas states that he is killed on it’s southern bank while in his ship. You could easily swim from there to his resting place.

    L’Anse Aux Meadows does not relate to the Vinland Sagas, else it would have been mentioned – in other words it would be a place in the sagas.
    It isn’t so either it is Vinland or has no connection as far as the sagas are concerned. There is one explanation which assists in explaining this village, and it was first published by Robert Enterline in his early 1970’s book on Vinland. I had come to this same conclusion separately before reading his book – that the site in northern Newfoundland is in fact an Irish Monk settlement ( as mentioned in the Vinland sagas as Whiteman’s Land, Ireland the Great and New Ireland) One can easily be confuse such meager remains of the Irish to the Norse during that time period since they intermingled their cultures for many years previously.

    All of the locations given in the Vinland, I have identified, and all are correctly related to each other. I have also a very strong theory as to the locations of Helluland and Markland – they fit extremely well and I don’t believe anyone has ever suggested this. Certainly no one has ever suggested my locations for Vinland, etc.

    I have located Thorvald’s grave, exactly in the middle of the long point where he meant to make his home before dying from an arrow wound.
    it only remains to extract his remains to prove my theory. This may sound easy, but the grave was flattened by an excavator by the owner of the point when he had his house extended by 12 feet. The owner always thought that the old grave was that of a great Indian Chief and is very curious as to who lies beneath – I cannot tell him as yet and he is quite annoyed about that but allows me to visit whenever nontheless. If you have any questions or can assist me in publishing I would be happy to hear from you.

    Thanks for reading this,
    Ed

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