The Vikings and America

With 103 illustrations

Erik Wahlgren

192 pages. ISBN 0-500-02109-0     
Thames and Hudson Ltd, 1986     

For more than a century laymen and scholars have argued over the question of Vinland, that mysterious ´land of grapevines´ which, according to medieval Icelandic sagas, the Viking Leif Eriksson discovered and christened almost a thousand years ago. If Vinland ever existed, where is it? Do the clues in the sagas of a North American location point to a specific place on a modern map? How much more of the New World may these pre-Colombian ventures have explored? And why did they eventually abandon their wanderings to the West?
Drawing on fifty years of study of the sagas and a deep knowledge of the historical and archaeological evidence, Professor Wahlgren addresses these questions in a brilliant and marvellously readable account. Excavations at L´Anse aux Meadows in northern Newfoundland show that the Vikings did indeed reach the North American continent around AD 1000, presumably from their base in southern Greenland. But was L´Anse aux Meadows Vinland? Professor Wahlgren thinks not, arguing convincingly for a location farther south. Other supposed Viking discoveries such as the Kensington Stone are dismissed as frauds, but there are enough recent and legitimate stray finds from Artic Canada to suggest Viking exploration far to the North. Eventualy, a worsening climate and attacks by native Eskimos and Indians put paid to the first European presence in the New World.
Written with verve and wit, The Vikings and America is a historical detective story of the finest order.

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