Possible second Viking site discovered in North America

April 4, 2016 by Bob Yirka, Phys.org report
The "Lofotr" viking ship and the smaller "femkeiping". Both recosntructions based on excavations from the Gokstad find. Credit: Geir Are Johansen/Wikipedia

A team of archeologists has found what may be the remains of a previously unknown Viking settlement on a south west shore of the Island of Newfoundland. If the remains can be confirmed, the site would make it just the second ever discovered that has given proof of Vikings inhabiting parts of North America. The team has been videotaping their work and a documentary of their efforts will be presented this month on PBS.

Leading the research is archeologist and National Geographic fellow, Sarah Parcak, who has been described as a "space archaeologist" because of her groundbreaking use of to uncover Egyptian ruins. In this latest effort, she and her team have altered their methods to uncover what appears to be evidence of Viking iron smelting.

To find hidden artifacts, especially those that have been buried by some amount of dirt, using a satellite, the researchers used computer tools to help them scan images, looking for human-like angles or long straight, unnatural lines. In the case of the newly discovered Newfoundland site, called Point Rosee, the team looked for changes in the richness of the grasses that grow near the sea—those that grow over stone, or other material are less robust, and can be made out from a distant satellite. The team also used magnetometer surveys to help isolate images below the ground once they were on site. That led to an initial excavation which revealed an iron-working hearth (with 28 pounds of slag in it) and what appeared to be the remains of turf walls. Radiocarbon testing has dated the site to between 800 and 1300 AD, which would coincide with the time of the Vikings.

Prior to this possible discovery, the only site ever officially designated as evidence of Norse activity in the New World was L'Anse aux Meadows, hundreds of miles north, on the tip of the same island. Archeologists do not have much to go on when attempting to prove that a settlement was made by Norsemen, rather than Basque fisherman or Native Americans—the one true hallmark of Norse travelers was the use of iron nails to build their boats, thus the discovery of an iron-smelting oven would be strong evidence of Viking activity.

If additional excavation and testing indicate that the was indeed made by Vikings, it will likely lead to changes being made to the history books—it would mean they found and settled North America five centuries before Christopher Columbus arrived.

Explore further: Evidence of Viking/Norse metalworking in Arctic Canada

Related Stories

Evidence of Viking/Norse metalworking in Arctic Canada

December 15, 2014

A small stone container found by archaeologists a half-century ago has now been recognized as further evidence of a Viking or Medieval Norse presence in Arctic Canada during the centuries around 1000 A.D.

Viking families traveled together, research shows

December 9, 2014

(Phys.org)—A new study shows that when Vikings moved to new territories, men and women traveled together. Erika Hagelberg of the University of Oslo and her colleagues compared ancient Norse and Icelandic mitochondrial DNA ...

The Viking journey of mice and men

March 19, 2012

House mice (Mus musculus) happily live wherever there are humans. When populations of humans migrate the mice often travel with them. New research published in BioMed Central's open access journal BMC Evolutionary Biology ...

Recommended for you

Unprecedented study of Picasso's bronzes uncovers new details

February 17, 2018

Musee national Picasso-Paris and the Northwestern University/Art Institute of Chicago Center for Scientific Studies in the Arts (NU-ACCESS) have completed the first major material survey and study of the Musee national Picasso-Paris' ...

Humans will actually react pretty well to news of alien life

February 16, 2018

As humans reach out technologically to see if there are other life forms in the universe, one important question needs to be answered: When we make contact, how are we going to handle it? Will we feel threatened and react ...

Using Twitter to discover how language changes

February 16, 2018

Scientists at Royal Holloway, University of London, have studied more than 200 million Twitter messages to try and unravel the mystery of how language evolves and spreads.

6 comments

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

nuncestbibendum
5 / 5 (2) Apr 04, 2016
Interestingly, this would be another colony on the same island. Proof still is missing that the vikings made it to the actual continent.
Phil DePayne
5 / 5 (3) Apr 04, 2016
Patricia Sutherland has discovered evidence of what may be a settlement on Baffin Island.
Steve 200mph Cruiz
5 / 5 (6) Apr 04, 2016
I think it's perfectly plausible that they made it to main-land America. Newfoundland is a serious island and they would of been able to use familiar navigational stars.
I wouldn't be surprised if they even made it to Maine, or even further south.
Why stop an epic voyage?
I doubt we'll ever find direct proof of habitation in the US, but maybe we could find a map or some kind of artifact in these newly discovered settlements to provide clues to how much of the new world they did explore.

This was also before guns so the natives of America could probably hold better fights against the Vikings than the Europeans in the coming centuries.

If the Vikings have carried western diseases to the Americas before anyone else, could we find records of North eastern American tribes that had immunity to some European diseases and survived the "first contact" with Europeans generations later?
torbjorn_b_g_larsson
5 / 5 (4) Apr 09, 2016
maybe we could find a map or some kind of artifact in these newly discovered settlements to provide clues to how much of the new world they did explore.


I don't think Viking maps have been discovered (they made runes in tree, bone, stone.)

A common hypothesis is that they relied on oral descriptions of trade winds et cetera.

PS. I like your immune system model! Hard to test, but with some luck...
victoryengineer
5 / 5 (1) Apr 10, 2016
I think there already exists enough evidence to remove Columbus from the history books as the one who discovered the "New World". Until any evidence points to the contrary, it is clear that the Vikings did indeed discover the "New World".
SURFIN85
not rated yet Apr 11, 2016
According to the sagas, the viking immigrants got their butts kicked by the "Skraelings".

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.