It’s Confirmed: Vikings Visited North America Hundreds Of Years Before Columbus

Researchers have officially found a date that the Vikings settled in L’Anse aux Meadows in Canada.

One of the things that American children learn at a very young age is that Columbus “discovered” America. More recent research, however, shows that the data needs to be updated and perhaps many people need to relearn that piece of history.

This is due to a study that was done on some grassy mounds along the coast of Newfoundland, Canada. Those mounds may not look like much, but the “L’Anse aux Meadows” were actually part of a Norse settlement from about a thousand years ago.

Photo: Wikimedia Commons

It really hasn’t been a secret that Vikings from Greenland visited North America, or more specifically, Northern Canada. Although it isn’t certain when the settlement was established, it was always thought to be a long time before Columbus sailed the ocean blue.

In Nature, there is now a study that shows the exact date that the Vikings were in Newfoundland. That date, 1021, is exactly 1000 years before our time.

Photo: Pixabay/Nicky Middleton

The L’Anse aux Meadows is a significant part of our history and is also protected as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Carbon dating is sometimes used to establish the age, but it is known to be an unreliable source for determining an exact age.

Archaeologists from the University of Groningen in the Netherlands sent researchers and scientists, led by Michael Dee, who took a closer look at the wood remains of the establishment. They gathered some of the wood and it showed they had used metal tools.

There was an indigenous population in the area of Newfoundland both before and after the Vikings were there. It was only the Vikings who used metal tools. They took some samples of the woodchips and looked for radiocarbon.

Photo: Nature

What they were looking for is evidence of some type of event that would have a historical significance. Perhaps it was cosmic rays or a solar storm so they were looking for one that took place in 993 CE.

What they discovered was that the wood used in the building of the settlement was cut down in 1021. In other words, they were there exactly 1000 years ago.

In speaking with Gizmodo, Dee said: “They were probably there looking for timber, and other resources, to take back to Greenland…There were maybe 100 Norse people at the site. We know from some plant remains found at the site that they also ventured further south in the Americas, but we don’t exactly know where. From the amount of rubbish left and because no Norse burials have been found, most archaeologists think they were at L’Anse aux Meadows for quite a short time.”

Photo: flickr/Chris Gushuea

Since this area seems to have only been occupied for between three and 13 years, it may have been that they headed south to warmer weather. Although there is no official non-native discovery of America, it seems as if the Vikings were some of the first to visit.