New Viking Settlements Found In North America
A second location of Norse settlement in North America has been found, showing Viking settlers ventured farther west and into the continent than had been previously believed.
The discovered remains of a 700-year-old Norse shelter were uncovered in a previously-examined Nanook archeological site, 200 kilometers southwest of Iqaluit in the Canadian territory of Nunavut. The location is also where the now-extinct Dorset people once inhabited a stretch of Hudson Strait shoreline.
At three sites on Baffin Island, which the Norse called “Helluland” or “land of stone slabs,” and another in northern Labrador, research teams led by the Canadian Museum of Civilization‘s chief of Arctic archeology, Pat Sutherland, have compiled evidence from field studies and archived collections, documenting dozens of suspected Norse artifacts such as Scandinavian-style spun yarn, distinctively notched and decorated wood objects and whetstones for sharpening knives and axes.
Among the new artifacts found near the sod-and-stone features at Nanook is a whalebone spade, consistent with tools found at Norse sites in Greenland, and which might have been used to cut sections of turf for the shelter.
Another piece of evidence shows what appears to be a rock-lined drainage system comparable to others found at proven Viking sites.
Sutherland says the remains are inconsistent with Dorset culture and believes they are evidence of Viking shore stations. She theorizes that Norse sailors continued to travel between Greenland and Arctic Canada for generations after the failed colonization bid in Newfoundland. L’Anse aux Meadows, located about 1,500 kilometers southeast of the excavation site, is the only confirmed location of Viking settlement in North America and is a UNESCO World Heritage site.
Sutherland believes Vikings encountered and possibly traded with the Dorset, who were later overrun, probably before 1400 AD, by the eastward-migrating Thule ancestors of modern Inuit.
Sutherland’s research is featured in the current edition of Canadian Geographic, and is currently writing a scientific paper summarizing her decade’s worth of work on the national museum’s Helluland project, which is expected to be published in August.