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L’Anse aux Meadows, Newfoundland

L’Anse aux Meadows hosts the earliest evidence of European settlement in the New World. In fact, it is the first and only known site established by Vikings in North America.Costumed Vikings at Lanse aux Meadows Newfoundland

A unique milestone in the history of human migration, L’Anse aux Meadows offers you the chance to understand 11th-century life without leaving the continent! Throughout history, Norse Sagas had spoken about a rich landscape similar to Newfoundland’s. But historians had no proof to determine whether this was fact or myth. However, the discovery of a small cloak pin in 1968 proved that Norse explorers had indeed settled in Newfoundland five centuries before Columbus!

Norse Sagas had often told of sailors gathering cargoes of lumber and pelts. They also told of clashes between the Norse and native inhabitants they called Skraelings. Run north by the Skraelings, the explorers settled at the head of Newfoundland's Great Northern Peninsula - now called L'Anse aux Meadows. Here they built a small community. It is unclear how long they stayed, but they settled long enough to build houses, workshops, and a small forge, where iron was smelted for the first time in the New World. After they left, the buildings decayed and nature reclaimed the land.

In 1960, a Norwegian explorer Helge Ingstad came upon the site as he searched for Norse landing places along the northeastern seaboard. At L'Anse aux Meadows he recognized a group of overgrown bumps and ridges and thought that they might be building remains. He was right. For the next eight years, Helge and his wife, archaeologist Anne Stine Ingstad, led a team of archaeologists in excavating the site. They found eight Norse buildings from the 11th century as well as artifacts of daily life. It was inside the cooking pit of a dwelling that they found the cloak pin - the proof that was needed to turn myth into history. L’Anse aux Meadows was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1978.

Today, a visit to the site can transport you back to a land of Vikings.  Exhibits at the site highlight the Viking lifestyle, complete with buildings and artifacts. Visitors can also explore the hiking trails to nearby bays and lakes. You can take a tour led by a costumed interpreter and discover what life was like for a Viking in 1000 AD. Be entertained by the Icelandic Sagas and immerse yourself in the area’s rich Norse history.

View tours to Newfoundland and Labrador

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