There is still time this summer to visit the Norstead Viking Village & Port of Trade at L’anse aux Meadows, our premier attraction. This social enterprise was opened in 2000 as part of the Viking 1,000 celebration and continues to provide the best in travel experiences 15 years later.
I’ve visited this site on many occasions with friends from Switzerland, Germany and other parts of Canada, but yesterday’s tour was truly the highlight made possible by the incredible, knowledgeable and talented staff.
The entrance had clearly marked the site as pet friendly, which is a plus for those travelling with their favourite hairy companion. The gift shop has locally produced pottery on-site, handmade viking ships and swords, nine-man mills viking games and a host of runic stones, jewelry and other items of interest. I purchased a lovely handcrafted jug with viking markings. Just spectacular!
Walking the wooden boardwalk there was a view of an iceberg off in the distance, former fishing boats that are remnants of what was an abundant inshore cod fishery before the 1992 moratorium. Viking dwellings, could be seen off into the distance. Gardens and livestock are part of the viking way of life. It was nice to see the sheep getting feed and the chickens.
The Chieftain told us incredible narratives at the boathouse and answered many questions as the 54 foot replica of Leif Erikson’s Snorri was in the backdrop. The wonderful thing about this open air museum is that it enables one to truly experience by touching tools and items on site and interacting with the characters in authentic attire. The character will read your runic stones or teach you how to play the viking games.
At the main hall, the women are busy working on the loom, using their needle, whorl and spindles, as well as dying fabrics and preparing the meals. They shared so many stories about viking living and were so in character asking, “what ship I had sailed in on?” and “Did I bring anything for trade?” They were also quite eager to share their talents and showing off their wares. Sitting in the Chieftains chair with the sword and horn was a big highlight. On Wednesday nights there is Viking storytelling of the sagas with local Mike Sexton. It comes highly recommended.
A walk further down the road was a visit to the church and forge. The blacksmith was busy with his fire and making tools and jewelry. He took lots of time to engage visitors in conversation, while multi-tasking and completing his current task. He was quite proud of all the tools he had made for the village and took pride in his work. An incredible talent. I thank him immensely for sharing a piece with me, which I look forward to sharing in a future post.
Upon leaving the forge, two vikings were outside and putting on a great show throwing axes and firing their bow and arrow.
I tried my best with a few attempts at axe throwing, but will need a lot more practice. It is likely best to keep my day job.
The kids certainly love this interaction and ability to test their own skills. Even the big kids enjoy this stuff :). Norstead has experienced much growth and the skies the limit for its future, with the potential to host Viking Weddings, establish the World Championship of Nine-Man Mill with giant game boards on the lawn, Skyping with a Viking, weaving or potting classes and spending the night on site in hut or tent. In the next 15 years, Norstead will continue to shine as our premier tourist attraction!
If you have not been, its a must. If you’ve been, it’s likely time to return! This is our gem and we are truly fortunate to have such a spectacular attraction on the tip of the Great Northern Peninsula. Thank you to the Board, management and staff for the incredible tourism experience. More at www.norstead.com.
Live Rural NL –Christopher Mitchelmore, MHA The Straits-White Bay North @MitchelmoreMHA