||From the Icelandic Annals
||Olson, Julius E. and Edward G. Bourne (editors). The Northmen, Columbus and Cabot, 985-1503: The Voyages of the Northmen; The Voyages of Columbus and of John Cabot. (New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1906). Page 69.
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Islendingabok, or Icelandic Annals, was written by Ari
Thorgilsson Frodi, or Ari the Learned, (1067?-1148) around the
date 1130 A.D.
Norse Expeditions, circa 1000.
By the tenth century, Norwegian settlers had migrated from
island to island across the North Atlantic, settling first in
Iceland, then in Greenland, and lastly in Canada. Archaeological
evidence shows that about 1000 A.D. mariners from Greenland
built a village at L’Anse aux Meadows in northern Newfoundland.
Two lengthy texts were written down between 1200 and 1300 A.D.
but are thought to reflect earlier oral traditions. The
Groenlandinga saga (AJ-057), and Eiríks saga rauda
(The Saga of Erik the Red, see AJ-056) give somewhat conflicting
accounts of the events of 980-1030 A.D. The last datable mention
of Norse colony on the American mainland is to events that
occurred in 1161 A.D., although indirect references are made in
slightly later documents such as AJ-060. Scholars suspect that
climatic change may have doomed the Vikings’ Western
settlements; steadily falling temperatures throughout the region
after 1200 A.D. would have shortened both the navigation and
growing seasons in Arctic Canada. By the 1500s, Greenland also
was empty of Norse settlers and mariners.
Scholars generally believe that the Helluland of these
documents is Baffin Island and that Markland was somewhere on
the coast of Labrador. The possible locations of Vinland,
Leifsbudir, Straumsfjord, and other places named in the texts are
still debated, with candidates ranging as far south as Cape Cod,
The work provides the first documentary evidence of Norse
contact with lands west of Greenland. The Icelandic Annals is
the oldest history of the Icelandic settlement and the earliest
surviving manuscript is from the seventeenth century. The
translation here is from The Northmen, Columbus and Cabot,
985-1503 (New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1906).
Other Internet and Reference Sources
You can find information on the Icelandic sagas and histories
from a University of Manitoba website on an exhibition on
Icelandic History. The brochure, at
discusses the Norse expeditions in the context of Iceland’s
The National Library of Canada maintains a site at
with information on the Vikings excursions to North America.
The Parks Canada website for the National Historic site of
L’Anse aux Meadow at
contains useful background information on the history of Norse
exploration where you can learn more.
The Viking Network, at http://viking.no/e/ewww.htm
maintains a website that provides maps, background information,
and data about the literary and archaeological evidence of Norse
settlement in North America.
The Smithsonian Institution’s Museum of Natural History
offers an online exhibit at
http://www.mnh.si.edu/vikings/ called “Vikings: The North
Atlantic Saga” which contains photographs of the L’Anse aux
Meadows site and artifacts unearthed there.
Librarian Steve Smith maintains “VNLND: The Online
Bibliography, Materials On & About the Norse Discovery of North
http://www.vnlnd.net/ which not only lists additional
sources but also describes their history and contents in some