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Where exactly would the locations for Vinland's regions be according to the Viking Sagas?

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  • Where exactly would the locations for Vinland's regions be according to the Viking Sagas?

    In 1960, archaeologists found a Viking settlement on Newfoundland's northernmost peninsula, at L'Anse aux Meadows. They considered that it had been settled there for about 10 years. They also found Butternuts at the site, suggesting that the Vikings had traveled farther south, like to New Brunswick, where Butternuts grow naturally. It seems reasonable to think that the Vikings likely traveled even further south, since they were so skilled that they could travel from mainland Europe and Britain to Iceland and on to the Americas. Plus, they would have a decade to explore at least from Newfoundland, based on the time of their settlement. And they were naturally curious about the region, finding it fertile and having grapes, giving rise to the term Vinland. According to the two main Viking Sagas on Vinland, the Vikings did explore further south than the northern point of Newfoundland. Those two Sagas are:
    1. The Saga of Eric the Red,
    2. The Greenlanders' Saga,

    I would be especially helpful if scholars studying VInland would list the description of the coordinates to Vinland's locations given in the two main Sagas on Vinland, and then chart maps showing what Vinland's regions would look like geographically if the Sagas' coordinates were taken literally. I have tried to do so for the Greenlanders' Saga below.
    Saga of the Greenlanders

    Chapter 3

    Bjarni gets blown off course going west from Iceland to Greenland, sails for a long time, and comes to a new, flat wooded land with small hills. (somewhere in eastern Canada )Then he sails up it, with it on his left side, and in 2 days' sail, he comes to another flat, wooded land. (Markland/Labrador) Then, Southwesterly (ie. northeastward) winds take him on the high sea for 3 days and he sees a high, glaciered mountainous island (Helluland/Baffin Island). They left it for the high sea again, and in four days' time, he gets to Greenland.

    Chapter 4

    Leif sails to the last land Bjarni found (Helluland- Baffin Island), and it's glaciery and mountainy with stone slabs and no grass. Then they sailed to a flat wooded land with white sand beaches, Markland (Labrador).

    Then they sailed with winds that flowed southwest for two days and got to another land. "They sailed toward this land, and came to an island which lay to the north of the land." They found dew on the island. "They went aboard their ship again and sailed into a certain sound which lay between the island and a cape which jutted out from the land on the north, and they headed west past the cape." They stranded their ship in shallow water, and when the tide went up again, they returned "to the land where a certain river flows out from a lake," and then sailed into the lake. They found large salmon in the river and lake, and camped there with booths/small dwellings.
    The country seemed to be possessed of such good qualities that cattle would need no fodder during the winters. There was no frost there in the winters, and the grass withered very little. The days and nights there were of more nearly equal length than in Greenland or Iceland. On the shortest day of winter the sun was up between mid-morning and mid-afternoon.

    A piecemeal translation on the Canadian Mysteries site has:
    The days and nights were much more equal in length than in Greenland or Iceland. In the depth of winter the sun was aloft by mid-morning [dagmálastaðir — was up at time for breakfast] and still visible at mid-afternoon [eyktarstaðir — still up at dinner time].
    The temperature never dropped below freezing, and the grass only withered very slightly.

    The sunset time at the winter solstice this year (2023) for December 9th - 16th is 4:02 PM at L'Anse Meadows. For December 9th to 12th this year, the sunset time will be at 4:13 PM in Cape Breton.

    Wikipedia's article on Vinland notes:
    ​An Icelandic law text gives a very specific explanation of "eykt", with reference to Norse navigation techniques. The eight major divisions of the compass were subdivided into three hours each, to make a total of 24, and "eykt" was the end of the second hour of the south-west division. In modern terms this would be 3:30 p.m. for "Dagmal", the "day-meal." It is specifically distinguished from the earlier "rismal" (breakfast), which would thus be about 8:30 a.m. The sun is indeed just above the horizon at these times on the shortest days of the year in northern Newfoundland - but not much farther north.
    So the Saga's comment about still seeing the sun at dinner-time in the winter associates Leif's camp with northern Newfoundland or farther south, but likely not as far south as the Carolinas. Yet the description of having no frost in the winter does point to a location in the area of the Carolinas or farther south. The Saga of Eric the Red better fits with American-Canadian coastal geography on this issue, because it describes the Vikings as making multiple settlements. In Eric's Saga, one settlement was by a fjord, and another was farther south in the region that didn't have winter snow.

    Chapter 6

    Thorvall goes to Leif's camp, and they decide to go along the "western coast."
    They found it a fair, well-wooded country; it was but a short distance from the woods to the sea, and [there were] white sands as well as great numbers of islands and shallows. They found neither dwelling of man nor animals; but in one of the westerly islands they found a wooden building for the shelter of grain. ... Thorvald sailed out toward the east and along the northern coast. They were met by a high wind off a certain promontory and were driven ashore there, and damaged the keel of their ship, and had to remain there for a long time to repair the injury to their vessel. Then said Thorvald to his companions: ‘I propose that we raise the keel upon this cape, and call it Keel-point,’ and so they did.

    So to the east of Leif's camp, there is a northern coast and a cape called Kjalarnes (Keel-point).
    Then they sailed away to the east off the land and into the mouth of the adjoining fjord, and to a headland which projected into the sea there, and which was entirely covered with woods. They dropped anchor and put out the gangway to the land, and Thorvald and all of his companions went ashore. ‘It is a fair region here,’ he said, ‘and here I should like to make my home.’

    Later, Thorvald asks to be buried there with a cross by his head, and so he calls the spot Crosspoint. So to the east of Kjalarness is an adjoining fjord and then a wooded headland, called Crosspoint, that projects into the sea.

    Chapter 8

    Karlsefni arrives at Leif's booths, ie. the spot to the west of Kjalarness with a lake near the sea. It had grapes. Karlsefni made a palisade. To defend from the Natives at Leif's camp, they said: "Let’s adopt this plan: ten of us shall go out on the cape and let themselves be seen there". This suggests that a/the cape was near the lake, eg. the cape at the head of the lake.

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    My own hand-drawn map based on my reading of the directions in the Greenlanders' Saga. Unfortunately, my reading can be faulty, and the coordinates in the Saga may not be fully clear. For instance, if the Vikings sailed west from the cape and found land by a lake, it doesn't necessarily mean that they only sailed directly straight west, or even that the landmass by the lake was connected to the cape, even if this would seem to be the common-sense conclusion.
    Locating Key Places in the Greenlanders' Saga

    I. The Cape and the Island on its north side, with the Sound in between, both two days' sailing south of Markland

    Bjarni sailed 3 days north from Labrador to Baffin Island, and Labrador is about 100 miles south of Baffin Island, ie. he sailed about 33 miles in per day. Then he sailed 4 days from Baffin Island to Greenland, and Baffin Island is about 250 miles west of Greenland, ie. he sailed about 62.5 miles in one day. Therefore, one would expect the cape that Bjarni found south of Labrador to be about 66 to 125 miles south of Labrador.

    However, in the Saga of Eric the Red, it takes 2 days each to sail from Greenland to Baffin Island, from Baffin Island to Labrador, and from Labrador to the warmer land south of Labrador. So the Saga of Eric the Red implies that Vinland is farther south than the Greenlanders' Saga implies that it is.

    Cape Bauld on the north end of Newfoundland has a few islands on its north side, but it's only around 20 miles from Labrador's oceanside, and Labrador and Newfoundland are only 10.8 miles apart at their closest spots. The Gaspe' Peninsula is about 100 miles directly south of Labrador. St. Paul island and the Magdalene islands are on the northwest side of Cape Breton. Cape Breton is about 200 miles south of Labrador and about 50 miles south of Newfoundland.

    They describe themselves as sailing west past the cape, which sounds like they went down the west side of: Newfoundland, the Gaspe' Peninsula, or Cape Breton.

    II. The lake where Leif made his camp

    Newfoundland's west coast has a couple lakes connected to the ocean by narrow passages or rivers, like at Stephenville Crossing. Cape Breton's west coast has a few of them too. New Brunswick, Newfoundland, Nova Scotia, and New England have Atlantic Salmon populations. See eg. "Freshwater Fishes of Connecticut - Atlantic Salmon,"

    I read online that the time stated for the sun to go down at the winter solstice would match the period for sunshine in mid-winter in Newfoundland.

    In Chapter 6, when it talks about a West Coast, it sounds like it means that the coast there ran north-south, with sea on the west side of the coast, like the west side of Cape Breton or of Newfoundland. West of the Gaspe' Peninsula, the St. Lawrence river runs in a northeast-southwest direction, but it doesn't really contain the kind of island-lake layout described in the Saga.

    III. Kjalarnes

    This sounds like it could be the cape in chapter 5, and seems that it could be the north side of Cape Breton or Newfoundland.

    IV. Crosspoint

    This could be a cape to the east of Cape Bauld, like Fleur De Lys or La Scie. Or it could be a cape on Cape Breton Island, but to the east of the island's northernmost cape, like how Schooner Pond lies to the east of Cape Breton's northernmost point.

    So in general, the Greenlanders' Saga seems to be describing the Vikings settling in Newfoundland or in the area of Cape Breton, northern Nova Scotia, and New Brunswick.

    The leading argument that it describes them as settling in Newfoundland seems to be that Newfoundland is about as big as Iceland, and it's the main large landmass south of Labrador. However, since Newfoundland is only 10-20 miles from Labrador, it seems too close for the Vikings' two days' sailing journey from Labrador that the Saga describes.​

    Below is a Free Printable Map of Canada" from Pacific
    Note that the map is tilted slightly counterclockwise, so North is alittle to the left on the map.
    Attached Files

  • #2
    The southernmost discovery of Viking remains in North America was the "Maine Penny" in an Amerindian "midden" with arrowheads near the seashore in Brooklin, central Maine.

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    The Norse Penny from the site, found in 1957
    After Mellgren’s coin was identified as Norse, the Maine State Museum sent a team of professional archaeologists to the Goddard Site to better understand the context the coin had come from. While no other Norse artifact has ever been found there, the site did hold surprises—artifacts attesting to an explosion of trade contact between Native American groups, stretching from the eastern Great Lakes up to Labrador. At the same time the coin shows up, for instance, archery first appears in the region.

    “The site has an unspeakably dense concentration of archers,” says Bourque. Excavations have turned up thousands of arrowheads, along with mounds of pottery sherds and stones that come from hundreds of miles away. “It’s off the charts,” he says. “The real mystery is—what the hell is going on at the site at the time?” To Bourque, the coin is a clue in this other mystery. All sorts of objects that seem out of place in 12th-century Maine show up in this one spot, as if it were site of a pre-Columbian World’s Fair for northeastern coastal America, from Lake Erie to Newfoundland. Unlike the sagas—all story, little evidence—this site is full of interesting evidence in search of a story.


    • #3
      Searching the fields of NW Indiana and SW Michigan


      • #4
        The archaeological trail in mainstream scholarship runs as follows.

        We have the L'Anse aux Meadows Viking settlement at the northern tip of Newfoundland. Archaeologists say that it was inhabited for about 10 years, that it was used as a repair facility for ships. It had a couple buildings, and since a spindle was found in the ruins, it had sewing, so maybe it had women. It had pigs, but not cattle. It was apparently not one of the four Viking settlements south of Labrador mentioned in the Sagas, because of the lack of cattle at the site. Plus, its geography doesn't match the geography of the four sites in the Sagas, like being on a fjord or lake.

        However, it does bear resemblance to the site of "Kjalarnes," meaning "Keelness," mentioned in both Sagas, although they don't count Kjalarnes as a settlement site. The Sagas say that it was named because one of the Vikings broke their keel there, or because they found a keel there. The Sagas say that Kjalarnes was on the top of a northern promontory, like L'Anse aux Meadows is in real life. Further, the Sagas say that the Vikings repaired their broken ship there, and Kjalarnes was used as a repair station.

        On the other hand, the Sagas say that Kjalarnes was two days' sailing south of Labrador, whereas L' Anse aux Meadows is only about 25 miles south of Labrador, not even a days' sail by Viking standards in the Sagas. The slowest sailing time in the two Sagas seems to be the journey from Baffin Island to Labrador, a distance of 100 miles, in the Greenlanders' Saga, which took 3 days to sail, ie. a journey of 33 1/3 miles per day.

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        L'Anse aux Meadows' Viking site

        Butternuts were found at the L'anse aux Meadows site, and Butternuts only grow as far north as four places: (A) The upper Miramichi River Valley around Doaktown, New Brunswick, (B) the St. John's River near New Brunswick's eastern border with Maine, (C) New England west of central Maine, and (D) Quebec City and further west up the St. Lawrence River Valley. Therefore, the Vikings must have visited at least one of these places.

        The Vikings could naturally have sailed to the Miramichi Valley, like to the fork in the river, and then sent scouts up the valley to the Doaktown area. At the link below is a map of Butternuts in New Brunswick:

        ​The butternuts of the upper Miramichi Valley are south of the "S" in the word Brunswick on the map. Scholars consider the Miramichi River to be one of the top possible locations for Leifsbudir, Leif's camp described in the Greenlanders' Saga. In that Saga, it says that the Vikings camped by a lake with salmon that was upriver from the sea, west of a cape with an island near it. However, there technically isn't a lake at the Miramichi River; at most, there's a lake-like bulk in the river. Plus, the part of the river with the butternuts is 40 miles upriver from the river's bulk.

        The St. John's River Valley in New Brunswick is also a place where some scholars think that the Vikings settled. If so, it would most likely be "Straumsfjordr" ("meaning Current-fjord") in Eric the Red's Saga, as the Bay of Fundy has one of the strongest currents in eastern Canada. and New England. Butternuts are much more plentiful there than they are in the Miramichi Valley, as the map shows.

        New England west of central Maine is the most plentiful spot for Butternuts east of New York state, as the map of Butternuts in the US and Canada shows below. On the other hand, it seems a bit harder to get to the St. John's River Valley and to New England from L'anse aux Meadows than it does to get to the Miramichi River Valley.

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        Quebec City and points further west in Quebec are also potential sources of butternuts, but my reading of the Sagas doesn't suggest that the Vikings settled there. The Sagas seem to describe the Vikings either crossing the St. Lawrence Gulf or settling in western Newfoundland, to the extent that the Sagas describe them settling west of L'Anse aux Meadows. There is one point in Eric the Red's Saga where it describes the Vikings sailing west on the north side of a mountainous region that ​seems to be the Appalachians of the Gaspe' Peninsula. They describe a one-footed attacker shooting at them from the shore, it seems. But the Saga doesn't describe the Vikings settling there in that account.

        The 11th century "Maine Penny" in Brooklin, Maine suggests that Amerindians there traded with the Vikings as part of a trade network. Theoretically, the Vikings could have visited the site and traded with Amerindians there, or else Amerindians there could have traded with Eskimos who traded with VIkings in Greenland. An Eskimo relic for instance was also found among the artifacts at the site in Brooklin, Maine. So the finding of the Maine Penny doesn't in itself prove that the VIkings visited Maine. Nonetheless, the proximity of the Maine Penny's discovery site to the range of butternuts in the St. John's River Valley and in New England together increases the likelihood that the Vikings visited one of those places.

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        ​There are also a vast array of purported and potential Viking artifacts from New York State to Nova Scotia, and it's hard to tell how many of these are authentic. They include the Narragansett Runestone (Rhode Island), Dighton Rock (Rhode Island), the Spirit Pond Runestones (Maine), and the Yarmouth Stone (Nova Scotia).

        A long list of these artifacts is here:
        Last edited by rakovsky; 08-12-2023, 09:16 PM.


        • CMD
          CMD commented
          Editing a comment
          Very few would agree that any of the alleged Norse evidence described in the “Viking artifacts in New England” article actually are what they are purported to be. I myself published the first article describing the Narragansett Stone, and I’m almost sorry I did, lol….

        • CMD
          CMD commented
          Editing a comment
          Dighton Rock was in the Taunton River, Ma., not RI. It empties into Mt. Hope Bay, a tributary of Narragansett Bay.

        • rakovsky
          rakovsky commented
          Editing a comment
          Thanks for your educated somments, CMD.I also take the purported Viking artifacts of New England with a grain of salt, but think that out of the trove of alleged Viking artifacts found over the centuries from the St. Lawrence Gulf to New York, some of them are likely authentic. Currently, it's probably hard to tell which ones are authentic Viking North American artifacts, as there are a range of explanations for the artifacts and their discovery.

          Take for instance the Narragansett Stone. I'm no specialist, but it seems that some method could be invented for dating the inscription, analogous to how we use carbon dating. But as rock inscriptions are not in organic material, this seems like a challenging task. The earliest record that I saw for the stone online is for 1939. It looks like Runic, but I don't even know what it would spell exactly in Runic, "Os Hromb Ga"?

      • #5
        The two Sagas, Eric the Red's Saga and the Greenlanders' Saga, describe a total of 4 settlements or camps that must be different from and in addition to the one found at L'Anse aux Meadows:

        Settlement #1. Leif's Settlement in the Greenlander's Saga would be by a lagoon or salmon lake connected to the Gulf of St. Lawrence. Apparently it's on the southern half of the west coast of Newfoundland, or else the southern coast of the Gulf of St Lawrence that runs from western Cape Breton to northeastern New Brunswick. The Miramichi River (New Brunswick) has a lakelike bulky area below its fork. Lake Ainslie and the Margaree River are Nova Scotia's top salmon lake-river system, and they empty northwest into the St. Lawrence Gulf. However, the Vikings would have to carry their longboats to get up the Southwest Margaree to Lake Ainslee, it seems. The Vikings did carry some of their longships, but it seems that they would prefer to avoid it.

        Settlements #2-4 are in Eric the Red's Saga.
        • #2: Straumsfjord, meaning Current Fjord
        • #3: A cape between #2 and #4.
        • #4: Hop, meaning "Tidal Pool Estuary"
        Settlements #2-4 could theoretically be anywhere on the Atlantic coast stretching from L'Anse aux Meadows down the east coast of Newfoundland and the east coast of Nova Scotia, down south to New England, with Settlement #4 being potentially even further south. My sense is that #2: Straumsfjord could be the Bay of Fundy, like the St. John's River Valley where butternuts grow wild. Settlement #4 could theoretically be in the lower Hudson River Valley, since the Appalachians extent to there.

        According to Eric the Red's Saga, the One-Footer's mountainous homeland (likely the Appalachians of the Gaspe' Peninsula) has a mountain range that extends down to Settlement #4 in the "Land of Hop." THe Saga also suggests that the One Footer's homeland, Straumsfjod, and Hop are equidistant from each other.

        I am attaching my own hand-drawn map of the locations in Eric the Red's Saga south of Labrador.
        Click image for larger version

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        • #6
          Anthropologist Edmund Carpenter penned a study, “Norse Penny”, in 2003, which argued the coin found in Maine was planted as a hoax by the finder. I have an online pdf of that study, but, unfortunately, none of my browsers will allow me to copy and paste it to our forum.

          There is another study, which argued the Maine coin is very unlikely to be a hoax. The coin, real find or not, could never be used to argue Norse were on site in Maine, since trade could explain its presence….

          Rhode Island


          • #7
            Originally posted by CMD View Post
            Anthropologist Edmund Carpenter penned a study, “Norse Penny”, in 2003, which argued the coin found in Maine was planted as a hoax by the finder. I have an online pdf of that study, but, unfortunately, none of my browsers will allow me to copy and paste it to our forum.

            There is another study, which argued the Maine coin is very unlikely to be a hoax. The coin, real find or not, could never be used to argue Norse were on site in Maine, since trade could explain its presence….

            For years, the original people who found the Maine Penny were considering it an "English Penny", but later it turned out to be of Norwegian origin. This to me actually works in favor of the coin being legitimate, because if the archaeologist finders were trying to make a hoax, they would be more effective in their hoaxing if they rightly announced it as a Norse Viking Penny.

            I read the article that you provided above, and think that it makes good points in favor of authenticity.

            I agree that the coin can have been traded to Maine via an Amerindian trade network that extended to Maine without the Vikings being in Maine. However, New Brunswick is the farthest northeast that Butternuts are found, and the combination of the Maine Penny being found in Brooklin, ME and the closeness of the Vikings' likely visit to New Brunswick or places to the west or south of New Brunswick to collect the butternuts provides evidence that adds the Maine Penny to a critical mass in the New England - New Brunswick area, strengthening the case to be made that the Vikings visited in that general region at some point.


            • BoilerMike
              BoilerMike commented
              Editing a comment
              When looking at the distribution of a specie like butternut, I think it would be challenging to tell where they existed at some point in the past. It wouldn’t be accurate to use their current distribution to make a claim like that. Here’s my reasoning: I understand Brook trout used to live wild all over the eastern US at the end of the last Ice Age including where I live in central IN, but natural climate change over the past few thousand years has been continuously pushing their range into higher latitudes and elevations. If we learned of some account of a person catching a brook trout a few thousand years ago, I wouldn’t rule out that it took place where I am now, even though they don’t exist here anymore. Likewise, I think it could be the same for any specie.
              Last edited by BoilerMike; 08-16-2023, 10:24 AM.

            • rakovsky
              rakovsky commented
              Editing a comment
              Boiler Mike,
              I agree with you, so that the butternut range is not a full proof that the Vikings were limited to these areas. So it would not be very surprising if the butternuts grew a bit farther north, like in the Chaleur Bay region, where some scholars theorize that the Vikings made Leif's camp in the Greenlanders' Saga. To give an analogy, there is a little debate among scholars whether grapes grew in Newfoundland at this time.
              On the other hand, I think that plants' range might change more slowly than animals' range, and I recall reading that unlike grapes, butternuts weren't in Newfoundland in ~1000 AD.

          • #8
            A acquaintance of mine, he’s since passed away, was a researcher from Iceland. He felt that most of the furs traded through Europe during the centuries that the Greenland settlements existed, were from North America, and the result of Icelanders trading with natives in what is today Canada.
            Rhode Island


            • rakovsky
              rakovsky commented
              Editing a comment
              Thanks for your comment. It reminds me of a common theory that the codfish that the Basques and Bristol fishermen were getting from a source on the Atlantic before Columbus' discovery of the Americas came from Newfoundland and Labrador. There is an early 16th century record of Basque fishermen from Ile de Brehat island north of France having fished in eastern Canada before Columbus' arrival in the New World.

            • CMD
              CMD commented
              Editing a comment
              Yes, absolutely, we know they were fishing there well before Columbus.

            • rakovsky
              rakovsky commented
              Editing a comment
              A study this year showed that in Norse settlements in Greenland, the medieval Vikings were using Jack Pine, which only grows as far to the northeast as the St. Lawrence River Valley, as well as New Brunswick and central Nova Scotia.

          • #9
            “CMD, A study this year showed that in Norse settlements in Greenland, the medieval Vikings were using Jack Pine, which only grows as far to the northeast as the St. Lawrence River Valley, as well as New Brunswick and central Nova Scotia.​“

            Yes indeed….

            Archaeologists have used wood taxa analysis to distinguish between imported, drift and native wood from five Norse farmsteads on Greenland.
            Rhode Island


            • #10
              Originally posted by CMD View Post
              “CMD, A study this year showed that in Norse settlements in Greenland, the medieval Vikings were using Jack Pine, which only grows as far to the northeast as the St. Lawrence River Valley, as well as New Brunswick and central Nova Scotia.​“

              Yes indeed….

              Here is a map of the range of Jack Pine:
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              The most accessible large sources of Jack Pine if one sails from the north end of Newfoundland would appear to be in either the St. Lawrence River Valley, or else the New Brunswick area.
              If one compares this Jack Pine map above with the butternut range map in my Message #4 above, then the overlap of ranges is farther up the St. Lawrence River Valley, like at Quebec City and farther west, and the New Brunswick area, particular the south Miramichi River tributary and the St. John's River Valley that flows into the Bay of Fundy.


              • #11
                When trying to locate the places in the Sagas and connect them to real life geography, the places from Greenland to Labrador seem pretty reliable. The Greenlanders' Saga mentions the Vikings sailing among locations in the following order in their journey from Greenland to Labrador:
                1. Brattahlid is well known as being in the south end of Greenland.
                2. Vestribygd is the "Western Settlement" and was located in the area of seashore-valleys to the east of what is today's Greenland's capitol of Nuuk.
                3. Bjarneyar means "bear islands", and these must be a string of islands on Greenland's west coast to the north of Nuuk, particularly Disko Island. In the map below, you can see how Disko Island is a convenient jump-off spot in a sailing journey from Greenland to Baffin Island. Disko Island has the area of Qeqertasuaq shown on the map.
                4. Helluland means Flat-Stone Land, and reliably refers to Baffin Island.
                5. Markland means Outback Land, and the Saga describes it as forested and flat. It reliably refers to the Labrador Peninsula.
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                The map above shows a journey with a blue line that includes a route between Baffin Island and Disko Island on Greenland's west coast.

                Where locations begin to get ambiguous is when the Sagas start to describe locations south of Labrador. The first uncertain area is the island of Bjarney to the southeast of Labrador. Its name means Bear Island. In the passage from Eric the Red's Saga below, the Vikings sail with northerly winds (ie. winds coming from the north and blowing to the south) for two "half days", ie. two 12 hour periods, from Baffin Island and get to Markland (Labrador) with an island with bears to Labrador's southeast. Here is Sephton's 1180 translation:
                Then they sailed with northerly winds two half-days, and there was then land before them, and on it a great forest and many wild beasts. An island lay in the south-east off the land, and they found bears thereon, and called the island Bjarney (Bear Island); but the mainland, where the forest was, they called Markland (forest-land). Then, when two half-days were passed, they saw land, and sailed under it. There was a cape to which they came. They cruised along the land, leaving it on the starboard side. There was a harbourless coast-land, and long sandy strands. They went to the land in boats, and found the keel of a ship, and called the place Kjalar-nes (Keelness). They gave also name to the strands, calling them Furdustrandir (wonder-shore), because it was tedious to sail by them. Then the coast became indented with creeks, and they directed their ships along the creeks.

                Sephton's 1880 translation,
                Eric the Red's Saga actually comes in two separate, very similar versions, the Skálholtsbók and the Hauksbók. Svenn Jansson translates this Saga's journey from Helluland/Baffin Island to Markland as follows:
                Skálholtsbók version
                Then they sailed on a northerly wind for two days and then there was a land before them on which there was a great forest and many animals.
                An island lay off the land to the southeast and there they found a bear and called [the place] Bjarney (‘Bear Island’). But the land they called Markland (‘Forest Land’) where the forest is.

                Hauksbók version
                From there they sailed for two days and the wind shifted from south to southeast and they found a wooded land with many animals on it.
                An island lay offshore to the southeast. There they killed a bear and from this called the place Bjarney and the land Markland.

                "Bjarney" in the Saga arguably refers to Belle Isle off the coast of Labrador, although the island of Newfoundland seems worth considering. Technically there are also a number of islands on Labrador's south side that one might consider to be Bjarney, particularly Anticosti Island, but they seem less likely to me because they seem better described as on Labrador's south than its southeast.

                In the map below, Labrador and the major part of Quebec that is north of the St. Lawrence River are on the Labrador Peninsula. You can get a zoomed out view of this peninsula in the small inset map at the top of the map below.
                Click image for larger version  Name:	Newfoundland-map-features-MAP-locator-CORE-ARTICLES.gif Views:	71 Size:	543.8 KB ID:	701677
                If you enlarge the map, you can see Belle Isle marked on Labrador's east end north of Newfoundland. Anticosti Island is below the Labrador Peninsula. Along the southern coast of the Labrador Peninsula and north of Anticosti Island on the map you can also notice quite small islands as well.

                Bjarney seems arguably to be Belle Isle because:
                1. Belle Isle is totally to the southeast of Labrador's easternmost coastline near Cape Charles. Belle Isle is fully to the east off of Labrador's coast, whereas the other options like Newfoundland include land that is to the west of Labrador's easternmost coastline. If one took the Vikings' route and sailed south down Labrador's east coast with the southward winds that brought the Vikings from Baffin Island to Labrador,
                2. Belle Island occasionally gets polar bears. They can ride icebergs to the island. The Ingstads in the 20th century noted that a polar bear was hunted on the island. In contrast, Newfoundland not only had bears, but also Beothuk Indians, and it seems that Beothuk Indians would be more identifiable for an island on which they lived than bears.
                3. If Bjarney resembles the Bjarneyar islands off the coast of Greenland, then it's notable that Belle Island is 20 square miles in size. Disko Island is 3,312 sq mi, but it's the largest of those islands on Greenland's west side, and there are quite a few other islands that are about Belle Isle's size between Nuuk and Disko Island. So Belle is closer in size to the islands off western Greenland north of Nuuk than Newfoundland is. In contrast, Newfoundland's size is 42,031 square miles and resembles the size of Iceland.
                4. As Belle Isle is on the southeast edge of the east end of Labrador, Belle Isle can serve as a navigational guide like how the Bjarneyar islands on Greenland's west coast may have signaled to the Vikings to stop sailing northward along Greenland and to turn westward to Baffin Island. In the case of Belle Isle, as a navigational guide, it could signal to mariners to sail southward in order to get to Newfoundland. Perhaps this would also be an effective spot to get a current to sail eastward to Ireland.
                5. As a navigational guide, Belle Isle works well as a practical guidepost to get to the Viking site at L'Anse aux Meadows. If you sail to Belle Isle and then sail directly south to Newfoundland, you would land at a spot close to L'Anse aux Meadows. Specifically, you would land at the north end of Quirpon Island, and L'anse aux Meadows would be about 5 miles southwest of the north end of Quirpon Island. Alternately, if one sailed south from Labrador's coast near Belle Island, like from Labrador's Pleasure Harbor, one would land on Newfoundland about 5 miles to the west of L'Anse aux Meadows.
                6. Whereas there is a chain of islands on Greenland's west coast that could be called the "Bjarneyar" islands as group, Belle Isle sits by itself north of Newfoundland and east of Labrador, and thus could be readily designated as a single "Bjarney", Bear island.
                However, Newfoundland is also an island with bears on the southeast side of Labrador. Further, in the Greenlanders' Saga, Bjarni sails south and west from Iceland until he comes to a new landmass (Bjarni's First Land), and then follows it north or west to Markland/Labrador (Bjarni's Second Land). On a map of the North Atlantic, it looks like Newfoundland would likely be Bjarni's First Land, considering that Newfoundland lies squarely on the route southwest from Iceland, although it seems possible (but less likely) that Bjarni would have gone around Newfoundland and arrive at Nova Scotia as his First Land. In case Bjarni's First Land is Newfoundland, it seems that Newfoundland could reasonably be named "Bjarney," not just due to bears being on the island, but after its discoverer, Bjarni.
                Click image for larger version  Name:	Basic%20North%20Atlantic%20current%20map.jpg Views:	7 Size:	107.4 KB ID:	702439
                Map of Bjarni's possible routes to his First Land.

                Click image for larger version  Name:	Bjarni's First Land related to other lands.png Views:	0 Size:	101.4 KB ID:	703034
                Map of Bjarni's First Land in Relation to where Bjarney might be, if they aren't the same landmass.

                If Bjarney is Belle Isle, then it seems that the northward pointing cape Kjalarnes that the Vikings sail southward to after visiting Labrador in the Saga could be the north end of Newfoundland. However, if one takes the position that Bjarney is Newfoundland, then this position excludes Kjalarnes from being on Newfoundland, as the Saga portrays Bjarney island and Cape Kjalarnes as being on separate landmasses. Furthermore, if Bjarney is Newfoundland and Kjalarnes is on Nova Scotia, then it would mean that the Vikings' Saga did give note to Newfoundland in their journey south from Markland to Kjalarnes, and thus Newfoundland would not be conspicuously missing from the narrative.

                Anticosti Island is to the west of Belle Isle and Newfoundland, so it seems less likely to be Bjarney. If Anticosti Island were Bjarney, then Cape Kjalarnes would be to Anticosti Island's southwest, like the Gaspe' Peninsula. That is because if the Saga considered Anticosti Island to be to Labrador's southeast, then the departure point to sail from in order to reach Kjalarnes would have to be to Anticost Island's northwest. Furthermore, Leif's camp in the Greenlanders' Saga would probably be reached through the St. Lawrence River, as the departure point in the Greenlanders' Saga to sail southwest from Markland (Labrador) in that Saga to get to Leif's camp would send one up the St. Lawrence River if Anticosti Island was considered to lay to the southeast of Markland, Labrador. This is because in the Greenlanders' Saga, the Vikings sail southwest from Labrador. So if Bjarney is to the southeast of Labrador and Anticosti Island is Bjarney, then a route going to the southwest of Labrador would be naturally a route going southwest from a point on Labrador's shore north of Anticosti island, and such points would in real geography only send one into the vicinity of the St. Lawrence River and its mouth. It doesn't seem to me likely however that the Greenlanders' Saga considered the trip to get to Leif's camp to be through the St. Lawrence River however, so this is another factor in making it look less likely that Bjarney is Anticosti Island.
                Last edited by rakovsky; 09-11-2023, 03:40 PM.


                • #12
                  One can prove that Markland must be the Labrador Peninsula, or at least the eastern coast of Labrador running from about (A) Torngut Park in the north down to (B) Henley Harbor in the southeast of Labrador.

                  This is because we can use the Sagas and known geography to find the maximum southern range for Helluland, the maximum northern range for Kjalarnes, and the maximum range that the Vikings could have traveled from both locations to get to Markland.

                  The two main Sagas on Vinland describe Helluland as having glaciers and describe the sailing journeys between Markland and Helluland as taking two to three days in a northeast/southwest or north/south direction. The farthest south on the Atlantic coast of North America that one can go and still find glaciers is the area around Baffin Island, Resolution Island, and the Torngut Park, and geological studies show that this arrangement of the glaciers was basically the same in ~1000 AD. Furthermore, the southernmost glacierous departure point that one can leave from to sail southwest and south is from a point north of Labrador, such as Resolution Island or Baffin Island. You can't sail south for two days from Torngut Park to get to another landmass except for small islands, and the Sagas describe Helluland and Markland as separate landmasses that the Vikings sail between. You can't get to Newfoundland from Torngut park. Torngut Park's coast actually faces northeast, so you can't sail both south and southwest from it to get to Markland.

                  In a Viking two day sail, the most that they could sail is about 264-300 miles, since a day (doeger) was counted as 12 hours, and the maximum boat speed was 11-13 mph. In contrast, the distance south down from Torngut Park to Henley Harbor in Labrador is 525.49 miles.

                  The two Sagas also describe the Vikings as finding grapes when they sailed two days south and southwest to capes on lands separate from Markland and then explored those new lands. The northernmost identified region with grapes on record is Newfoundland. Both east and west Newfoundland were recorded as having grapes in the 16th-17th centuries by English and French visitors or ocupants of the island. In Eric the Red's Saga, the Vikings sail 2 days south from Markland to get to Kjalarnes, and then sail clockwise east and south around it to get to the Wonder Strands. At the Wonder Strands, they let Scottish slaves explore the area and the slaves come back in three days with grapes. The northernmost spot for Kjalarnes must be the north end of Newfoundland, because (A) the southernmost region possible for Markland is Labrador, and it's not possible to sail south from anyplace on Labrador to get to any landmass with grapes farther north than Newfoundland. For instance, if you sail south from Cape Charles on Labrador, you can get to Belle Isle, but Belle Isle does not have grapes.

                  The same logic applies to the story in the Greenlanders' Saga, where the Vikings sailed for two days southwest from Markland to get to another landmass. They either saw a northward cape after sailing for two days southwest from Markland or else they saw land and then sailed along the land to get to the northward cape. Then they kept following the coast from that cape and later found that the landmass had grapes. In this case, the northernmost spot for that landmass with grapes about two days' sail southwest from Markland would be Newfoundland.

                  So in conclusion, if you look at (A) the southernmost Atlantic coastal range for Markland and (B) the northernmost Atlantic coastal range for Markland, and then you look for (C) the landmass that touches both of these ranges, you are left with finding (D) the eastern coast of Labrador to be the only landmass that fits in both of these ranges.

                  Here are some maps to show you what I mean.

                  First, here is a map of Torngat Park, which has the southernmost glaciers in Labrador.:

                  Click image for larger version  Name:	nl-map-torngat-mountains-620.jpg Views:	0 Size:	33.8 KB ID:	706818

                  Second, here is a tentative scientific map of the retreat of the Laurentide ice shield, with the last, smallest oval being marked as 6,000 years ago, ie. 4,000 BC:

                  Caption: "Tentative model of the ice-front retreat of the Laurentide Ice Sheet, in Québec-Labrador, between 13.5 and 6 cal. ka BP. Zone in grey: area from Clark et al. (2000) where pre-late ice retreat forms seem to be preserved, that is, extension of residual cold-based ice or stagnant ice. After the fragmentation of this ice mass, ice disappeared ca. 6 cal. ka BP (see Dyke et al., 2003, for current model)."​

                  Source: "Late Wisconsinan-Early Holocene deglaciation of Québec-Labrador"​
                  Based on the map above of the ice shield's retreat, at 1000 AD, the glacier range on the Atlantic coast was only about as far south ​as Torngut Park. This establishes Torngut Park as the southernmost spot meeting the Helluland's characteristic of glacers. However, Torngut Park is on the Labrador Peninsula, and the rest of Labrador's coast has trees, especially the southern part. In the Greenlanders' Saga, the Vikings sailed north or west to get to Markland from the first land that Bjarni found, and they found trees on Markland and then glaciers on Helluland. The saga says that they sailed two days from Markland to Helluland and it describes them as being on separate landmasses. Therefore, Helluland must be someplace north of Labrador, as it can't be the wooded land of Labrador and as Torngut Park is the southernmost Atlantic coastal region with glaciers.

                  Third, here is a map of the current distribution of wild grapes in the US and Canada:

                  Click image for larger version  Name:	Wine-vit-rootstocks.jpg Views:	0 Size:	111.3 KB ID:	706819

                  If one considers Newfoundland as an optional location for wild grapes in the Vikings' time based on explorers' testimonies from the 16th-17th centuries, then the northermost range for Kjalarnes and the northward cape would be Newfoundland.


                  • #13
                    All interesting theory, but why here? There are much more likely sites/forums for your need to preach the gospel of Vikings according to you.
                    Searching the fields of NW Indiana and SW Michigan


                    • rakovsky
                      rakovsky commented
                      Editing a comment
                      Dear Greg,
                      I initially saw the "Viking Contact" subforum:

                      And threads like:
                      Vinland (Newfoundland, Canada),
                      Evidence of Viking Outpost Found in Canada,

                      North American precolumbian archaeology is a key factor in academia for grasping the scope of the Viking presence here. Until the discovery of L'anse aux Meadows, then theoretically the Viking journeys to North America could have been simply myths, considering that they do have some potentially mythological elements, like the "one-footed" attacker, which seems possibly an Amerindian with an atlatl.

                      Out of the archaeological finds besides L'anse aux Meadows, mainstream archaeology has been able to find jasper for striking flints in the L'Anse aux Meadows site sourced from the Fortune Harbor area, the Maine Penny in a midden with many arrowheads in Brooklin, ME, and the butternuts in the L'Anse aux Meadows site, with the known range of butternuts running from the St. Lawrence River Valley to New Brunswick to New England.

                      Thanks for letting me post on the forum.