Vinland (Wineland) was the name given to part of North America when it was discovered by the Viking Leifur Eiríksson on October 9, 1000. After the settlement of Greenland by the Vikings, a merchant by the name of Bjarni Herjólfsson, who was on his way to Iceland from Greenland, strayed off course and thus accidentally discovered the east coast of America. It was late in the summer, and he did not want to stay over winter in this new land, which he noted was covered with forests, so he did not land and managed to reach Greenland before winter fell. With wood being in very short supply in Greenland, the settlers there were eager to explore the riches of this new land. Some years later Leif Eriksson explored this coast, and established a short-lived colony on a part of the coast that he called Vinland.

Historians do not agree on the location of Vinland. In the 1960s a Viking settlement was discovered and excavated at L'Anse aux Meadows in Newfoundland, and many historians believe that this was Leifur's settlement, thus connecting Vinland to Newfoundland; however, others believe that Vinland lay further to the south, possibly in New England, and that L'Anse aux Meadows is perhaps part of an undocumented later attempt at settlement.

Vinland was first recorded by Adam of Bremen, a geographer and historian. In 1072 he wrote the Gesta Hammaburgensis Ecclesiae Pontificum, a history of Hamburg and the Christian missions in the north, starting with AD 788. This is the chief source of knowledge of the north until the 13th century. In 1068 Adam came, at the invitation of Archbishop Adalbert of Bremen, to write a detailed history. Adam took a trip to personally interview king Svend Estridson, who had knowledge of the history and geography of the northern lands.

Another source of information about the Viking voyages to Vinland can be derived from two Icelandic sagas, Eirik the Red's Saga and the Saga of the Greenlanders. These sagas were written approximately 250 years after the settlement of Greenland and are open to significant interpretation. Combining those two, it seems that there were a few separate attempts to establish a Norse settlement in Vinland, none of which lasted for more than two years. The disbandment of the small Viking colony probably had several causes. Disagreements among the men about the few women that followed on the trip, and fighting with the Indians already living on the land (called "Skrćlingjar" by the Vikings), are both indicated in the written sources.

The name may well be an early marketing effort (something like the naming of Greenland). The publicisers indicated that there were huge amounts of grapes growing in the Vinland area (hence the name). However, grapes do not grow in any of the areas possible as a site of Vinland.

Besides Vinland there were other areas recorded as Markland, Helluland, and Hóp.

See also: Vinland map, Helge Ingstad

External links