L’Anse Aux Meadows World UNESCO Heritage Site has always been a fascinating place to visit. I have been privileged to live near where the first Europeans would re-discover North America more than 1,000 years ago when Leif Erikson came on Snorri to the Great Northern Peninsula – a place he called “Vinland”. A sign on Route 430, which is named the Viking Trail welcomes you to Erikson’s Vinland!
July 2013 saw the unveiling of a new Leif statue in the very place where he became the first European to set foot on American shores. A special ceremony was held in partnership with the Leif Erikson International Foundation, Norstead Viking Village & Port of Trade and St. Anthony Basin Resources Incorporated (SABRI). Leif looks out toward the sea.
I want to thank all the donors, supporters and volunteers, who worked to ensure Leif would be a permanent fixture at L’Anse aux Meadows. This was a remarkable moment, that included an Icelandic Choir, a representative from the Norwegian Embassy, Parks Canada staff, local residents and Benedicte Ignstad.
Benedicte is the daughter of Helge and Anne Stine Ingstad, the archaeologists who made the discovery of L’Anse aux Meadows as the only authenticated Norse site in North America in the early 1960’s.
I have travelled to Denmark, Iceland, Norway and Sweden to experience more of the Viking/Norse culture. However, Benedicte offered me and others the insight into the process and the way of life in L’Anse aux Meadows, some 50 years ago.
I attended her reading of her mother’s book “The Land with the Green Meadows” by Anne Stine Ingstad. This book was first published in Norway in 1975 and translated in 2006 to English. The Historical Sites Association of Newfoundland and Labrador gained permission from Benedicte to have the book lightly edited and available to a new generation of readers.
I spent multiple hours of a plane and many more waiting at an airport just over a week ago, when I began Anne’s book. I could not put it down, because it told a real story. It described the people of L’Anse aux Meadows and of nearby Straitsview and the struggles they faced. The Decker’s, Blake’s, Anderson’s, Colbourne’s and others are very real people. The book highlights how a community comes together to look after one another, the building of the highway to connect the communities to L’Anse aux Meadows and the shift from coastal boat to air transport saw a dynamic shift for such an isolated place as L’Anse aux Meadows. Over the course of the book, one got to know Anne and Helge, experience the great discovery, as well as the local people and the kindness of others, including those who worked at the Grenfell Mission.
There was much pioneering happening on the Great Northen Peninsula. There always was and there always will be. From the very first sod buildings to the current day residents, L’Anse aux Meadows is a place you want to visit and experience for yourself in your lifetime.
Summer is when the land is green, and the best time to visit. Begin your trip planning today. A Viking Experience awaits!
Live Rural NL -Christopher Mitchelmore, MHA The Straits-White Bay North
L’Anse Aux Meadows is home to a World UNESCO Heritage Site – as the Vikings came more than 1,000 years ago to a place they called “Vinland“. To celebrate the new millennium and 1,000 years of history a non-profit entity of Norstead was established. It is near the UNESCO site further on Route 436, a sign will guide you down a short gravel road to a Viking Village and Port of Trade. I travel there several times throughout the summer, it should also be on your list.
Norstead has a really cool landscape as it is nestled in its own little part of the cove. The ocean and islands are forever in the backdrop, making for a photographer’s paradise.
My European friends are posing by a symbolic rock that has an image of the viking ship. The long sod covered building in the background is home to the Snorri. The boat house boasts a life-size replica and was actively sailed from Scandinavia, Greenland, Markland and finally Vinland. During the summer season you would be greeted by the colourful Lambi, all too willing to explain the ship and viking life.
The Viking church and forge are part of the Village. During summer one will find the Blacksmith hammer out some nails, a sword, helmet or other necessary item to survive in rural Newfoundland & Labrador in the year 1,000.
I would make a pretty serious blacksmith’s assistant. I am not sure I have the look of the Vikings though with all that British and Irish Ancestry.
The Vikings and the animals that spend late-Spring until early Fall have all gone. The site is quiet during the winter. I would imagine the Vikings 1,000 years ago found the weather on the Great Northern Peninsula extremely harsh.
As we walk away, we know there is a valuable experience waiting for the everyday visitor. Be sure to visit Norstead on your next time on the Viking Trail Highway, Route 430.
Experience the Great Northern Peninsula -Christopher C. Mitchelmore, MHA The Straits-White Bay North