Having enjoyed recent letters to the editor concerning Columbus Day, I feel obliged to bring your correspondents up to date regarding the Viking landing in North America.
The “possible” Viking landing circa 1000 A.D. is no longer at issue. The archeological remains of their small, multi-year settlement on the northern tip of Newfoundland have been carefully studied, authenticated and even tied to the scant written record.
Today, at L’Anse aux Meadows (near the town of St. Anthony), one can visit both the actual site diggings of foundations, and standing replications of buildings that formerly stood on those foundations.
In 1977, Canada recognized this as a national historic site partly because it “provides the earliest evidence of Europeans in the Western Hemisphere.” In 1978, UNESCO recognized it as a world heritage site. If you take a moment in the ample and modern visitors center before walking among the ancient remains, you can learn much more about the archeological finds that lifted this place out of the realm of speculation and into our history.
People of both sexes stayed and lived at this tiny base for several years, and even had peaceful trade with local indigenous people. They even found flecks of iron ore to fashion nails to repair their boats! An amazing and inspiring record.
Did Columbus or Ponce de Leon leave comparable evidence of their visits, 500 years later? I have not yet visited those sites.
Dale M. Heckman