Vikings in America, before Columbus!

Homeland Defense in the 9th and 10th century European settlements in America - Aardvarchaeology

Homeland Defense in the 9th and 10th century European settlements in America - Aardvarchaeology

Re-enactors in Canada bring alive two periods of Swedish immigration to the Americas, the Viking experiments of the 9th and 10th centuries, and later, in the 19th century.

Story at Aardvarchaeology.

From Aard regular Christina Reid (she started commenting less than a week after the blog opened, bless her heart!), a few pictures from Mid-summer Eve at the Scandinavian Cultural Centre in Burnaby, British Columbia. Tina and her hubby are active in the Reik Félag reenactment group. And her brother is the singer of Viking/Tolkienian metallers Amon Amarth!

How do Canadian public school curricula treat these events?  They are all but completely missing from the normal world history and U.S. history texts we use in Texas — of course, the U.S. history texts generally ignore the other two nations of North America in all contexts.

The town I mostly grew up in, Pleasant Grove, Utah, had been settled in large part by Scandanavians who had joined Mormonism and then migrated to Utah.  Generally looked down upon by English descendants, they rebelled by voting our high school’s mascot as Vikings.  The Christiansens, Fugals, Christesons, Larssons, Andersons, Andersens and others probably would have  enjoyed the idea of a Viking re-enactment.

Those wily Canadians figure out so many ways to have fun and hide learning in the activity.

Young Viking couple in Canada, 9th or 10th century, or 21st century reenactors - image at Aardvarchaeology

Young Viking couple in Canada, 9th or 10th century, or 21st century reenactors - image at Aardvarchaeology

12 Responses to Vikings in America, before Columbus!

  1. […] Vikings in America before Columbus! (Millard Fillmore’s Bathtub) Share this:TwitterStumbleUponDiggRedditFacebookEmailLinkedInPinterestTumblrLike this:LikeBe the first to like this. […]


  2. H says:

    Onkel Bob is an idiot. He (I must presume) is talking out his back side…


  3. To raise your Braudel with two Marc Bloch’s, I’d say the Viking “deficiencies” you speak of (in contrast to the Pacific islanders) needs to be considered in relation to the hostility to human life the sea represents in northern climes. Climate is a factor, perhaps the decisive one, here.

    The Vikings got around. Besides, they were more preoccupied with laying siege to Paris (ca. early 9th c.) than crossing the cold North Atlantic. Better spoils.

    Call this the “fine wine” theory of history. On that note, the area the Vikings did settle effectively for a brief time was further south from the Canadian settlements — in “Vinland”, around Martha’s Vineyard in Massachusetts.

    Weather is history.


  4. onkelbob says:

    Re: the Azores, I cannot recall the author and the text is in Italian (the frau is from Modena) but the story goes that Columbus got his inspiration to sail west from the stories reaching him from the Azores. Apparently an Inuit in a kayak floated up on the shore of the Azores. Hearing those stories he dismissed the data regarding the circumference of the earth. (Unfortunately the books and papers are packed for a move right now.) As for St Georges Bank, it was not opened as a fishery until the 1600’s according to Braudel. The Portuguese had no interest in going north and it was not until the Spanish navy was depleted before the English began explorations there.
    As for the snide remark regarding quantity differential, Hernando Cortes was able to defeat a million man army with a mere handful men. While superstition played a significant role, it is an example of the few changing the course of history. The Inuit and northern coast aboriginals were fortunate that the Vikings did not have same toxic bacteria and virus mix so prevalent in the Mediterranean. Nevertheless, the Vikings were not skilled at colonization, failed to establish political ties with the natives, did not bring essential technology (ore processing and metals smelting) nor developed the trade routes back to the homeland. When you consider the interaction of the Polynesians across the Pacific, who had regular contacts across expanses far greater than the North Atlantic, the Vikings were, well, deficient.


  5. James Kessler says:

    Onkel, you may want to bother to remember that there was very few Vikings versus quite a lot more Native Americans.


  6. mpb says:

    There have been stories of North American canoes in the Thames. And the Georges Bank were evidently well-known by European fishers well before Columbus. Of course, I don’t remember where I found these nuggets.


  7. Ed Darrell says:

    The poor Inuit that floated to the Azores, quite dead but in a kayak, had more influence on the “discovery” of North America than the Viking settlers exerted.

    Now THERE’s a story. Got details?


  8. Onkel Bob says:

    A couple of things often overlooked here:
    1. The Vikings for all their bluster and bravado, were driven off by combatants armed with stone tipped arrows. Makes you wonder what version of Viking landed there.
    2. They had very little (nonexistent) impact on the arts or technology of the continent. No new ships were built, metal working remained at primitive levels, no new architecture or aesthetics were introduced.
    The Vikings may as well lived in a bubble for their impact was essentially nil. Furthermore, their knowledge or information was not traded or brought to the rest of Europe. The poor Inuit that floated to the Azores, quite dead but in a kayak, had more influence on the “discovery” of North America than the Viking settlers exerted.


  9. Donna B. says:

    Even though I missed World History in HS (moved too much) even I knew about the Vikings, pre-Columbus. Of course, that was long enough ago that HS’s were still offering Latin.


  10. Even the ridiculously conservative A Patriot’s History of the United States offers, “legends recorded Leif Erickson’s establishment of a colony in Vinland, somewhere on the northern Canadian coast” (1). This recognition from a text that goes to great lengths to glorify Columbus makes it even more pressing to ask, what are they teaching in Texas?


  11. James Kessler says:

    And lets also remember the imporance that Minnesota has regarding the Scandinavians. That reenactments would be right at home here. Also Minnesota history classes covered the various immigrant groups that came here.

    or at least it did when I was in school


  12. Viking settlement in the new world ca. 1000 AD is a widely known fact in Canada. There is a Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) history short about one particular village in Newfoundland, which became an important archaeological site a few years ago…


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