Did Viking’s Discover North America?

Did Viking’s Discover North America?

L’Anse aux Meadows was the first Viking settlement believed to have been found in North America in the 1960s.

Scientists claimed to have uncovered another Viking settlement in Newfoundland that was built between 800AD and 1300AD.

Some experts believe the Vikings may have discovered North America nearly 500 years before Christopher Columbus made his famous journey to the New World

The site, discovered in an area called Point Rosee in southern Newfoundland, is 400 miles (643km) south west of a Viking settlement found in L’Anse aux Meadows during the 1960s.

Now, one expert claims to have found a mysterious location known as ‘Hop’.

Based on Viking descriptions, three key things identify this mystical settlement – an abundance of grapes, salmon and canoes made from animal hide. 

An archaeologist claims the only place that matches this description is the Miramichi-Chaleur bay area in northeastern New Brunswick in Canada.

This would be the third Viking settlement claimed to have been found in North America, although it could be hard to ever prove it for once and for all.

It is thought the Vikings first discovered America by accident in the autumn of 986AD, according to one historical source, the Saga of the Greenlanders.

It tells how Bjarni Herjolfsson was stumbled across North America after being blown off course as he attempted to sail from Norway to Greenland, but he did not go ashore.

Inspired by his tales, however, another Viking Leif Ericsson then mounted his own expedition and found North America in 1002.

Finding it fertile land, rich in grapes and berries, he named it Vinland.

Eriksson also named two further ‘lands’ on the North American coast – one with flat stones, which he called Helluland, and one that was flat and wooded, named Markland.

Anglo-Saxons were WORSE than the Vikings and carried out ‘ethnic cleansing’

Anglo-Saxons were WORSE than the Vikings and carried out ‘ethnic cleansing’

According to a Danish academic who thinks disgruntled English monks spread ‘ false news ‘ about his ancestors, tales of vicious Vikings may be significantly exaggerated.

The earlier Anglo-Saxons carried out ‘ethnic cleansing’ against native Britons, while the Vikings ushered in Scandinavian multi-cultural society, he claims.

Traces of Viking influence on the language can be found in modern English, for example, the use of ‘bairn’ to refer to a child in the North.

However, the Anglo-Saxons worked hard to wipe out all trace of the earlier Celtic language in the same way American English replaced Native American dialects.

Tales of vicious Vikings may be greatly exaggerated according to a Danish academic who believes disgruntled English monks spread ‘fake news’ about his ancestors. The earlier Anglo-Saxons carried out ‘ethnic cleansing’ against native Britons, while the Vikings ushered in Scandinavian multi-cultural society, he claims
Traces of Viking influence on the language can be found in modern English, for example the use of ‘bairn’ to refer to a child in the North. However, the Anglo-Saxons worked hard to wipe out all trace of the aearlier Celtic language in the same way American English replaced Native American dialects

The claims are made by Mads Ravn, head of research at Vejle Museums in Denmark in an in-depth article for ScienceNordic. Dr. Ravn traces the beginnings of scholarly hyperbole over Viking raids to 793 AD.

In that year a Northumbrian monk named Alcuin described a raid on Lindisfarne, a holy island off the northeast coast of England.

He wrote: ‘The heathens poured out the blood of saints around the altar, and trampled on the bodies of saints in the temple of God, like dung in the streets.’

Despite this reputation for ferocity, Dr. Ravn believes it is undeserved. Writing in ScienceNordic, he said: ‘The reported plundering and ethnic cleansing are probably overrated. 

‘The Vikings simply had worse “press coverage” by frustrated English monks, who bemoaned their attacks.’ Dr. Ravn claims modern studies of DNA, archaeology, and linguistics depict a more complicated Viking history. 

‘They indicate that the Vikings were not the worst invaders to land on English shores at that time. That title goes to the Anglo-Saxons, 400 years earlier,’ he added.

The Sutton Hoo helmet is a decorated Anglo-Saxon helmet which was discovered during the 1939 excavation of the Sutton Hoo ship-burial. This image shows a recreation made in the 1970s
This image shows a British Museum recreation of the Sutton Hoo helmet

The Anglo-Saxons were a people who inhabited Great Britain from the 5th Century AD. 

They were made up of Germanic tribes who emigrated from continental Europe, as well as indigenous Britons who adopted their cultural practices. The Anglo-Saxons were fierce warriors, and tribes often battled one another for territory.

The Anglo Saxons were a people who inhabited Great Britain from the 5th Century AD until 1066 when they were conquered by the Normans. This map shows where they invaded from

Dr. Mavn says their reign, which he compares to apartheid against the celts, was far more brutal than that of the Vikings. Evidence of this can be found in their attempts to eradicate the languages they encountered. 

‘In the 5th and 6th centuries, old English wiped out the earlier Celtic language in a similar way that modern English eradicated the language of the Native Americans in the US in the 19th and 20th centuries,’ he added.

‘The Vikings’ impact was significantly less. Linguists do see some influence from the old Norse of the Vikings in old English. But it doesn’t come close to the eradication of Celtic by the Anglo-Saxons.’ 

DNA studies also suggest that the Anglo-Saxons came over in large numbers and contribute a large part of the genetic inheritance of British people. The Vikings, however, settled in smaller numbers and likely married with Anglo-Saxons, rather than replacing them.

They also left their own mark on the language, with the word ‘bairn’ from the Old Norse barn, meaning child, still used widely in the North of England. 

Other similarities include ’armhole’, from the Danish armhole, for armpit and ‘hagworm’ from the Danish hugorm, meaning adder, which can be found in Old English.

Ancient Well With Stone Stairs Unearthed in Scotland

Ancient Well With Stone Stairs Unearthed in Scotland

An ancient well at the top of one of Scotland’s most iconic mountain peaks has been unearthed for the first time in hundreds of years.

Archaeologists from Aberdeen University’s Northern Picts projects made the incredible discovery this week at the Mither Tap, one of the summits of Bennachie in Aberdeenshire.

Ancient Well With Stone Stairs Unearthed in Scotland
The well was discovered at the top of Mither Tap, on Bennachie

The deep granite well would have served as a water source for the occupants of the impressive fort at the top of the hill, the remains of which can still be seen today.

Although it was previously discovered in the Victorian period, it was recovered and has lain beneath thousands of hillwalker’s feet ever since.

Gordon Noble, the head of archaeology at Aberdeen University, said: “We have been interested in this site for some time because Mither Tap hasn’t really been excavated in any scale since the 19th century.

“We received permission from Historic Environment Scotland – as it’s a scheduled monument – to open up a number of trenches in the area to get dating evidence from all around the fort at the top of Mither Tap.

“We were really expecting to find a pretty bog-standard well, but we uncovered these fantastic steps leading all the way down to the well chamber.

“It’s particularly sophisticated for the period and created a huge amount of excitement both in the team and online.

“It really gives you an idea of the efforts that would have gone into building this fort – the ramparts would have been huge.”

It is not yet known precisely what historic period the well belongs to.

Mr. Noble said a shepherd put a large rock into the well at one point to prevent his livestock from falling in, and it currently blocks access to its lower levels.

He added: “We’re hoping to try and get the stone out to look underneath, but we’ll see what happens.

“I hope we’ll be able to find intact deposits we can sample for dating, or do some pollen sampling to find out about the environment at the time the well was used.

“But even without that, it’s still an incredibly exciting sight to see.”

The team hope to conclude their initial excavations by the end of next week and could return to the Mither Tap in the future subject to funding.

Visitors are invited to go and see the well and the rest of the ongoing archaeology work on Sunday, from 11 am to 1 pm.

British-French Interconector Brings Crashed WW2 Plane Back to Light

Lost WW2 Aircraft lifted from the sea after more than 75 years

Specialist divers and archeologists finished an operation this week to recover the wreckage of a 1943 Fairey Barracuda Torpedo Bomber (thought to be No. BV739) – just in time for D-Day’s 75th anniversary.

The three-seater plane, part of 810 Squadron Royal Navy Air Station, based at Lee-On-Solent is believed to have got into difficulty shortly after taking off for its test flight before crashing 500m from the coast in Portsmouth.

It was found by National Grid engineers last summer during a seabed survey ahead of the construction of new subsea electricity cable between England and France.

The cable, called an interconnector, will be buried in the seabed and will stretch for 240km between Fareham, Portsmouth and Normandy, France and deliver cleaner, cheaper and more secure energy for UK consumers. The UK government has targeted 9.5 GW of additional interconnector capacity in its Clean Growth Strategy. This is because interconnectors are recognised as a key tool in enabling the flow of excess zero carbon energy from where it is generated where it is needed most.

The Barracuda wreckage is the only one to have ever been found in one piece and the last remaining aircraft of its kind in the UK.

Boats on water – Retrieval boat and dive barge for the operation 

David Luetchford, Head of IFA2 for National Grid said: “Interconnectors are about bringing us closer to a zero-carbon future, but we must also respect the past. An important part of our job is to always have a thorough and sympathetic approach to archaeological finds.

Over the course of the project we’ve inspected over 1,000 targets of interest, many of which were found to be unexploded ordnance, not unusual given the history of this location. However, to have found a 1943 Fairey Barracuda torpedo bomber is incredible and such a key piece of British history.

It’s not every day you get the chance to play a role in an operation like this and it is very lucky to have found the plane in such a small search area. We surveyed a 180-meter-wide area along the cable route and if we had chosen a slightly different route, there is a good chance the plane would never have been found.”

Work to fully retrieve the plane is expected to take around three weeks in total as experts from Wessex Archaeology are carefully excavating the area around the aircraft and removing large amounts of silt and clay.

So far, one of the wings has successfully been lifted out of the waters and work on the second is currently underway. The remainder of the plane will be recovered by lifting it in sections over the coming days.

Wessex Archaeology lead archaeologist Euan McNeil said: “Our team has been working closely with all those involved to ensure that any risks to heritage assets on the seafloor are mitigated. This aircraft is a rare find and a fantastic opportunity to understand more about a piece of wartime technology.

“We have been undertaking the excavation under a licence from the MoD, and it has taken careful planning to ensure that we lift the remains and any associated material which may have been scattered as it sank – without causing its condition to deteriorate significantly. This has involved excavating the silt around the plane and sieving it for artefacts, then carefully dividing the remaining structure into manageable sections for lifting.

“The recovery of the Fairey Barracuda will aid an ongoing Fleet Air Arm Museum project to recreate what will be the world’s only complete example of this type of aircraft. This will give us a chance to examine a unique lost piece of aviation history”

Once retrieved, the parts will be taken to the Royal Navy Fleet Air Arm Museum in Somerset where it will be studied and used to rebuild a full-size Barracuda in the site’s aircraft hangar.

David Morris, Curator at The National Museum of the Royal Navy has been working on the project for several years and visited four other Barracuda crash sites to retrieve suitable parts.

He said: “This is an incredible find and a wonderful piece of British history. There are very few blueprints of the Barracuda plane design available so this wreckage will be studied to enable us to see how the plane segments fitted together and how we can use some of the parts we currently have.

“This find is a huge step forward for our project and we can’t wait to get it back to the museum and share our findings with the public.”

The plane’s pilot has been named as SUB LNT DJ Williams who managed to escape the crash and survived WW2.

Possible Viking Vessel Identified in Canada

Possible Viking Vessel Identified in Canada

Three views of the crucible from the Nanook site, Baffin Island, Canada. Image credit: Patricia D. Sutherland et al.

The ancient site, called Nanook, was first discovered in the 1960s by Dr. Moreau Maxwell of Michigan State University.

Dr. Maxwell identified it as a Dorset Paleo-Eskimo site although he noted anomalies in the architectural remains, and obtained a series of radiocarbon dates ranging from 754 BC to 1367 CE.

Among the artifacts recovered by the archaeologist in association with the unusual architectural remains was a small stone vessel.

Dr. Sutherland and her colleagues from the Geological Survey of Canada-Ottawa and Peter H. Thompson Geological Consulting Ltd have now discovered that the interior of the vessel contains fragments of bronze as well as small spherules of glass.

The object, according to the scientists, is a crucible for melting bronze, likely in order to cast it into small tools or ornaments. Indigenous peoples of northern North America did not practice high-temperature metalworking.

“The object is 48 mm tall and has a straight sloping base meeting the slightly convex lateral wall at an angle of approximately 140 degrees. The base of the complete object may have been keel-shaped,” Dr. Sutherland and her co-authors described the find in a paper published in the journal Geoarchaeology.

“The artifact appears to have been roughly circular in plan, with diameter expanding from >35 mm at the base to >48 mm at the rim. The base is 15 mm thick, with the walls tapering to a thickness of 6 mm at the rim.

The exterior is smoothly finished, but portions of the interior are scarred by scratching or scraping.”

“An irregular break cuts across roughly the center of the vessel, indicating that approximately half is missing.”

Three views of the crucible from the Nanook site, Baffin Island, Canada. Image credit: Patricia D. Sutherland et al.

According to the team, small ceramic crucibles were employed in nonferrous metalworking throughout the Viking world.

“We are aware of only one stone crucible, which was recovered from a Viking Age context in Rogaland, Norway.”

“Small crucibles with a circular plan and either flat or conical bases have been recovered from Early Mediaeval sites in the British Isles including one stone specimen from Garranes in Ireland.”

“The presence of bronze traces in the crucible from Baffin Island is notable, as brass (copper-zinc alloy) is more characteristic of finds from Scandinavia.”

Dr. Sutherland said: “the crucible adds an intriguing new element to this emerging chapter in the early history of northern Canada.”

“It may be the earliest evidence of high-temperature nonferrous metalworking in North America to the north of what is now Mexico.”

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