There's no doubt about it: the Vikings were absolute badasses. They raided, traded and invaded their way out of Scandinavia to rule much of Europe between the late 8th and late 11th Century, with their fearsome longboats and battle tactics.
However, much like the Indian cricket team, they rarely had much success outside of their own continent, with their foray into the Americas believed to have consisted of one brief sojourn to L'Anse aux Meadows, a thousand-year-old site in the north of Newfoundland, which was inhabited for just a brief period.
But that long-held belief could be about to change.
A possible new Viking site has been discovered by archaeologist Sarah Parcak, a “space archaeologist” who has utilised satellite imagery to locate lost Egyptian cities, temples, and tombs - and has now turned her techniques to find a second Viking settlement many hundreds of miles south, in Point Rosee, on the West coast of Newfoundland.
Her technique involves scanning areas and studying the vegetation observable on the surface. Any unusual, or unexpected variations on top can be indicative of unusual variations in the soil below, and suggest that structures are hidden underneath. Following visual observations at Point Rosee, a preliminary excavation has revealed the remains of what appear to be turf walls and an iron-working hearth.
According to National Geographic, "The turf structure that partially surrounds the hearth is nothing like the shelters built by indigenous peoples who lived in Newfoundland at the time, nor by Basque fishermen and whalers who arrived in the 16th century," with other evidence suggesting that this is highly likely to be a Viking settlement.
If this is proven to be true - and it took seven excavations before L'Anse aux Meadows was confirmed as the first discovered Viking outpost - it suggests that the Viking exploration of the New World was a lot more successful than previously thought and that they actually managed to colonize the 'Americas' around 500 years before Christopher Columbus made his trip.
“Nobody would have ever found L’Anse aux Meadows if it weren’t for the sagas. But, the flipside is that we have no idea how reliable they are” says Douglas Bolender, describing how the old stories, passed from generation to generation before eventually being written down, led them to explore Canada in the first place.
Could they be more true than anyone ever realised?
[via National Geographic]