Vikings and the Westward Expansion
The Vikings were a sea-faring people from the North Western areas of Europe, specifically the area known as Scandinavia. Viking is actually a profession and not the actual type of people. The people were Norse and the term “Viking” in Norse equates to the English word “Pirate.”
The Vikings were known throughout the European continent, specifically along the coastal countries. They were known for their quick attacks on coastal cities and monasteries to plunder for goods and riches. It was the search for goods and riches that often drove the Viking sailors to explore new lands. Greenland was one such land. A Norseman from Iceland, Erik the Red, was banished from Iceland after killing a man and settled along the southwestern coast of Iceland in the 980’s. He named the country Greenland in order to attract potential colonists. The “Icelandic Sagas” (and “Erik the Red’s Saga” and “Saga of the Greenlanders”) describe the western settlement of the Norse towards the Americas. Only a few years after the Greenland settlement, the Norse began to explore the lands to the west of Greenland. It was a merchant who was blown off course who brought news of western lands to Greenland. It was Leif Eriksson, son of Erik the Red, who took this news and set off to explore these new lands.
The sagas describe three separate areas discovered during this exploration. Helluland meaning “Land of the Flat Stones,” Markland meaning “The Land of Forests,” and Vinland which recent linguistic evidence identifies as “The Land of Meadows.” Vinland was located South of Markland. It was in Vinland that the settlement in the sagas took place. It is generally accepted that Vinland was founded by Leif Ericson around the year 1003.
There is much debate of the actual location of Vinland, but some believe it is associated with the location known as L'Anse aux Meadows. L'Anse aux Meadows is an archaeological site located on the most northern tip of the...
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