Tales have hinted at the Vikings settling in North America. If true, this new discovery would reinforce evidence that Europeans came to North America 500 years before Christopher Columbus.
Researchers, using satellite imagery, may have located what may be a second Viking site in North America, 300 miles from the first site discovered in the 1960’s. The newly discovered site is located on a remote peninsula at Point Rosee in southern Newfoundland whereas the original site was at L’Anse Aux Meadows on the northern tip.
Archaeologist Sarah Parcak of the University of Alabama, Birmingham spotted the ruins using high-resolution imagery. Parcak, a National Geographic Fellow and “space archaeologist” has used this technology to locate Egyptian tombs and temples. This is a first on forested and meadow sites.
Satellites positioned about 478 miles above earth allowed Parcak and her team to scan the eastern seaboard of the United States and Canada. The Viking ruins were seen as small as eleven inches buried below ground.
Using the satellite images, magnetometer surveys and a test excavation suggest that the site is from between 800 and 1300 AD with evidence of ironworking (an iron-working hearth and samples of bog iron-ore) and remains of a turf wall. The peninsula is also an ideal location for a settlement with clear sight lines, a ship-friendly anchoring area, ample fishing and game and natural resources for shelter and tool making, like the bog iron created from iron particles from the mountains carried in local streams. These are the hallmarks of Norse settlements.
They were quite nervous about their safety, threats by locals. They needed a place where they could have good access to the beaches but also a good vantage point. This spot is ideally situated — you can see the north, west and south.
Douglas Bolender, an archaeologist at the University of Massachusetts, Boston specializing in Norse settlements and part of the team says,
A site like Point Rosee has the potential to reveal what that initial wave of Norse colonization looked like not only for Newfoundland but for the rest of the North Atlantic.
The exploration team writes,
A “Norse” date and “affiliation” do look rather promising at this still early stage in the project, but we simply need more work at this site and more specialist input and peer-review data before being confident in stating this as “fact.”
Sorry, Columbus, that’s two before you. Will more Viking settlements be found in North America?