American elementary children have a new rhyme to learn: “In 1492, Columbus sailed the ocean blue … but 471 years earlier, the Vikings were living in Newfoundland, Canada.”
A new kind of carbon dating confirms that the Norsemen were living in the settlement of L’Anse aux Meadows in 1021.
Archaeological finds, along with references in the Icelandic sagas and other writings, had already suggested that the Vikings made it to the Americas.
But it is only now that historians can absolutely confirm by how many years.
No uncertainties about result
A very precise dating method has been used on samples of wood from the settlement.
“It is a very strong result,” explained archaeologist Professor Søren Michael Sindbæk from Aarhus University to DR.
“They have used the so-called carbon-14 method, but in a completely new way, which means that there are no uncertainties about the results.”
Just a short boat trip
It is presumed the Vikings became aware of northern Canada the longer they stayed in Greenland, as it is only 16 km away from Ellesmere Island.
A Germanic work references how the Vikings had a name for the land in 1075: ‘Vinland’. The Icelandic sagas also refer to the land, describing it as a rich and fertile land.
There is even the possibility it was called Vinland because the explorers came across wild grape plants.
New film genre on the way?
“Until now, we have been dependent on the written sources in terms of knowing when this happened,” continued Sindbæk.
“We have, of course, excavated the settlement and found things that point in the direction that it was probably in the early 1000s. But it has been uncertain evidence. Now we can start making archaeological datings regardless of what the written sources say.”
The findings also provide us with a new film genre. Forget cowboys, we want a film about Vikings vs native Americans!