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"Rediscovering Vinland, Evidence of Ancient Viking Presence in America"   

VINLAND MAPS

 

Matching Vinland Sites to Modern Geography

Frederick N. Brown Yarnell AZ Autumn 2012

 

Rafn Map 1837

click on map to enlarge

Ten years after I commenced my study of the site at Pettaquamscutt and well after my three year reading program, I was thunderstruck to find that I was not the first person to speculated Vinland as being in Rhode Island, nor even the first to speculate Leifsbudir and Hop in the Rhode Island township of Narragansett. What I had assumed to be an accessible book available to at least all Rhode Islanders, the work appeared almost by accident from shelves difficult to locate. The book is "Antiquitates Americanae" published in Copenhagen, Denmark in 1837, authored by one Carl Christian Rafn. I was to discover that it had been written in collaboration with a group of Rhode Island historians; Thomas H. Webb, Secretary of the Rhode Island Historical Society; Albert G. Greene; John R. Bartlett, all working in conjunction with the society.

Mr. Rafn and Dr. Webb locate Vinland within Narragansett Bay at a locale about ten miles from Pettaquamscutt. I consider it significant that two such diligent researches following identical lines of endeavor – validity of Saga episodes – should arrive at such close proximity at such distant remove from Greenland. Note also my agreement to other coastal landfalls, to which I have added a few.

The area of Mr. Rafn’s projected Vinland site "Thorfinnsbudir" is near Bristol, RI and the site he claims as "Leifsbudir" is across a waterway in what is now Tiverton, RI; the south flowing river being the Taunton and the entry river being what is called "Sakonnet River"(Zoom in to see detail,) This copy of the map designed by Mr. Rafn is from the original book. "Antiquitates Americanae" was republished in 1963 in Germany by scholar Otto Zeller.

 

Antiquitates Americanae is quite scholarly and written in Latin for a universal Academic Community. It publishes verbatim certain of the Sagas in the original Old Norse from direct copy of the centuries old manuscripts themselves, then located in Copenhagen. These are matched with translations into Danish and then to Latin. Segments of the work are in English, being correspondence between Dr. Webb and Mr. Rafn. As to why the monumental (my word) work has been neglected and placed into academic limbo, it might have something to do with what was, at its publication, conflict with US Supreme Court rulings establishing "Doctrine of Discovery" which denied all rights to lands, and civil rights claimed by American Aborigenes. Rulings by the US Supreme Court in the early 1880’s refer to the overall situation in more narrowly to Rhode Island concerning Indian Rights, henceforth withdrawn so long as Europeans hold dominion over the United States. Needless to say, this author agrees not at all with the distinguished Jurists of the eighteenth century. Legal precedence quoted in a US Supreme court ruling were based originally on Papal Bulls following the discoveries of Christopher Columbus and later modified in British Royal Edicts of the 1660’s. Four nations were affected by British law; Canada; New Zealand; Australia and the British colonies now the United States. In more recent and enlightened times the three nations of the British Commonwealth have modified these precedents and now permit civil rights to their native peoples. The United States has not yet withdrawn the archaic restrictions. However, it is my belief that in lieu of withdrawal, at least some of the American Native individuals have full citizenship with, I assume, all rights resulting

Actual comprehension of Nordic Sagas presents scholars from other cultures with a challenge. Not only does the narrative form and medieval mindset obscure modern understanding, it must be understood that they were essentially preserved through spoken tales where length of time was less important, winter nights in the Northlands being long and dreary. What the sagas do have is the occasional flash of vivid descriptions of people, places and events that enable the ancients to spring to life. The Vinland "narrative" as recorded in this website and book are a collation of just these graphic episodes which, by and large, are not in dispute for drama, if not truth, by historians. What transpires is yet a lengthy and magnificent tale of a noble people who have written their legacy in their own way. It is only for us to understand them and discover that which they had done so many centuries before us.

The Sagas do, indeed, conflict at certain places and this results in added confusion with many numerous translations through varied languages. Transposed into a coherent and plausible narrative, they yet are lengthy and much more dramatic, the very stuff of legend and Grand Opera. It is a simple matter to see the chronology that develops, thus reducing much of the confusion. And from this narrative the tangible coastline of Vinland appears as in these maps. Skeptics might consider the numbers of sighting and events, but the vivid descriptions lend themselves to analysis: do such places exist along the coast of Vinland; do they match what the Sagas say of them; and are they in the correct relationship to yield plausible insights for us? The maps illustrate a plausible oversight drawn from the narration; itself now clarified for comprehension.

We must consider ravages of time upon this coastline and how it affects our views comparing the thousand years that have transpired since the Vinland Voyagers sailed along it. Countless other small craft have done the same since early Dutch colonists, themselves descendents of Vikings, traversed their final leg toward their new trading city of New Amsterdam even before English Puritans landed at Plymouth Rock,.

The entire southern New England coastline is the residual limit of a great glacier perhaps a mile high that extended from the north and subsided some 20,000 years ago. Melt eroded the coastline, washing away mountains, a process that continues now from ocean currents that generally flow from west to east. Attempting to transpose conditions from an archaic nautical chart (Captain Cyprian Southack, 1717) to what seems likely 700 years prior, we find that the entire outer banks of the coastline is eroding with prevailing currents transporting and depositing sand into Nantucket sound, indeed providing much of the material for the entire outer arm of Cape Cod. In 1717 Nantucket Sound had more depth and apparently possessed small islets that may even have been wooded. They are shown on the ancient chart as tidal sandbanks exposed at low tide. Until near 1850 Nantucket Harbor had been a deep water port, home base for whaling ships of some 15 foot draft (underwater hull), while today a vessel of 5 foot draft must take care in entry and favor a good high tide. The "sound" side of Nantucket nowadays is amazingly shallow – and warmed by both sun and offshore Gulf stream. Waders today can walk a mile offshore even in the month of November, as had been my own experience some years ago. The area near the "elbow" of Cape Cod is known as Nauset and the island that now extends southward from it is Monomoy. The 1717 chart, and some others, indicate no island there at all, simply a broken and rounded appearance somewhat like an elbow without the protruding humerus.

With this general outlook, lets look at the conditions that confronted Leif Erickson after his lengthy voyage from Greenland, ship-shape and stable with his crew of 35 men. Where he first approached the coast we cannot know, but natural chance would bring him somewhere along outer Cape Cod. He might possibly have been able to identify this as a peninsula, as it is not all that wide. He would reach the Nauset area and naturally turn west as Nantucket is not visible from that area, A few miles coasting westward would bring him to an area where visual conditions would seem to infer that a solid coastline was ahead of him. At no place within Nantucket Sound can a view along Marthas Vinyard straits be made – it appears as solid land there. He might also have been diverted by the small islets, if they then existed, therefore a turn southward would be necessary. Because of conditions this had been the practice of all colonial and modern coastal traffic until the Cape Cod Canal became operational in the mid 1930’s. Normal coursing for coastal traffic further along is inside Long Island Sound toward New Amsterdam/New York and not along the outer side of Long Island. Point Judith at west side of Narragansett Bay thus became a prominent nautical landmark.

Clearing Marthas Vineyard and at the open sea again, now aware of Nantucket to his "larboard" (naut. "port", left), another turn westward from this point. He already had been in a coastal mode of sailing; that is sailing somewhat offshore toward headlands, if seen, because it is dangerous for a sailing vessel to navigate too close to shore. In this mode of sailing, from the second turn westward it is about a day’s sail from there to distant Block Island. This brings the coastline of Vinland into immediate perspective, if my reader can accept the reasoning in these speculations. The small outlying island visible to westward is named "NoMansLand Island" and many believe this name is a corruption of "Norman’s Land" because, as it happens, there is a carven runestone upon its southern beach, (see; Artifacts page). I show a turn to seaward as I believe a prudent navigator would not risk crossing a sound as narrow as this. Conditions in narrow sounds are not called "sounds" for nothing, for an area between an island and another land could quite well hide a shallow peninsular or rocks just below the surface.

An exploring seaman would follow the coastline while attempting to keep just far enough offshore for safety and at some point Leif would see off to his southwest a distant island, a feature quite attractive to a Viking for several reasons in unfamiliar territory. One is military: a mainland might have a large population whose welcome could be uncertain. The second is nautical: any sailboat is at the mercy of winds and most mainland harbors have climate conditions where sometimes a departure might be delayed sometimes for months, whereas an island is usually easily departed at any time, especially with stout oarsmen to help gain an "offing" (--nautical definition; that is, a course toward, or a place to be reached from, where favorable winds enable a true voyage direction.)

Thus, it seems reasonable to consider that Block Island is actually the "Sweetwater" island whereon Leif and crew visited for a period of time before approaching the mainland to their north. (Sweetwater Island is my own reference to it because, while the Sagas do not specify exactly what it was that the men put to their lips from "down there in the grass" and tasted sweet-ness, it seems more plausible than not that it was water from a small spring because from time immemorial water aboard ship has always been a subject of interest to seamen, it’s freshness and inherent safety over time.) Often, detection of a spring, especially a small one, is made by observing grass growing where it is sparse or of a different shade or verdancy where it is plentiful. An archaic definition of "sweet" is "fresh, pure", a condition that all seamen prefer. In the British Navy, the problem of water potability was closely guarded with a sentry and with a portion of rum added to every cup (grog) to suppress those creepy, crawly things we execrate that compete for life giving water. If the alcohol does not kill the microbes, it surely stuns them, following which it stuns the seamen into rousing cries of "God save the King!"

Thus, this simple observation, if it is true, enables reasonable speculation that the island was large enough to support a water table and grassland. Otherwise we know its location to have been south of a land, itself substantial enough – large island or mainland - to possess a fjord.

Only at the last of the narrative do we gain specific insight as to the duration and distance Leif Erickson sailed to reach his Vinland, but from his departure from Sweetwater Island his course, and the courses of later navigators can be speculated and supported with descriptions and realities. He says that he sailed "—north to a fjord, across a sound that lay between the island and that cape that jutted northward from the land". So in this short description we have an island, a fjord, and a north-pointing cape, as numbered. I give this three attributes.

This final leg northward is reasonable, given visual conditions prevailing. It happens that Block Island "feels" like an offshore island. At its northern end it has little elevation and all that can be seen is a clear horizon in all directions with a single exception; due north can be seen a the peak of a height upon the mainland which happens to be what is now known as McSparran’s Hill at a bit over 400 feet higher just behind the area of Pettaquamscutt. While a navigator landing Block Island from the east would be well aware of presence of a mainland, perhaps even the fjord of Narragansett Bay, this solitary signal hill is a powerful attraction for an exploring seaman. The seacoast itself cannot be seen from the northern end; only at the high (125 feet plus) southern end can the mainland itself be visible. Mostly grassland now, it was apparently forested a millennium ago, which might have obscured any sighting from that end.

Leif’s speculative courses as described are the most likely and practical possible along this coast; a decision to approach towards Narragansett Bay is the most plausible, his traverse a short at 12 miles to land and his way dictated by what he could see while standing at his rudder. Pettaquamscutt/ Narrow River devolves as the firstmost possible landing along the most "natural" course from Block Island.

The key to Thorvald’s adventure originates back in Greenland where the record says that he complained to his brother his lack of explorations at or from Leifsbudir. Since it is clearly stated that Leif did explore, even to how he did it by dividing his crew into two for seventeen men in each party, we can infer that Leif’s explorations were terrestrial and Thorvald’s resultant intent was to explore seaward. Every thing in his behavior at Leifsbudir supports this idea.

While resident at Leifsbudir he or some of his crew explored westward using the afterboat (see; graphics, below). Since we know from later descriptions that the river of Leifsbudir flowed from north to south, that tells us that this exploration with a smaller boat most probably been seaward and its distance and destination being an island whose attributes must be: 

It must be in a limited range west from Leifsbudir for a small craft; it must be near a mainland for access to natives with fragile boats; it must be large enough and possess conditions for agriculture, since the sole trace of man’s presence was of a structure used as a grainery by the absent natives.

Fisher’s Island fills the bill. It is about 30 miles from Leifsbudir, perhaps a day’s sail along a more or less featureless coastline (beaches); it is within sight of the mainland (two miles-swimmable) ; it is suitable for agriculture as it did become in early colonial days when it contained the homestead of John Winthrop the Younger, then governor of the Connecticut Colony.

click on pictures to enlarge

       

From Bayeux Tapestry – AD1067 – an era when Vikings were still active in Vinland.

In the famed tapestry we see attention paid to accuracy of events while crossing the English Channel: on the left an afterboat sailing free accompanying a fleet; on the right, one under tow, which is the reason it is so called. Note the man taking soundings at bow of rightmost ship; shields hung on sterns of all (doubtless the commander's shield); and, most remarkably, the objects held forward by the helmsmen of both the ship second from left and coxswain of the small boat above him. From the men's manner, in this modern age we might assume the objects as cell phones taking photographs. I do believe that these mysterious objects depicted near a thousand years ago are described "sun-stones" (minerals that can polarize sunlight to locate the sun on cloudy days) actually in use.

The adventure of Thorvald to the west of Leifsbudir in an “afterboat” contributes much to insights of events there, for it is a quite reasonable action to utilize a small boat in this manner. Small boats are much handier for inshore investigations and possible landings from time to time. Some versions of the Sagas say that Thorvald's crew of thirty, possibly reduced by four or five in the afterboat, busied themselves constructing buildings at Leifsbudir. 

Small boat duty is viewed by many seamen as “vacation”, almost always its crew returning to its ship happy and voluble. The distance this fleet sailed across the English Channel was probably in the order of 35 miles – just about the same as the distance of Leifsbudir to and from “Barn Island”.

Thorvald’s Saga did not record detail of his southward journey from Greenland, only that he had reached Leifsbudir without incident. But his departure toward home is minutely detailed and contains key information for detailing Vinland’s coastline. His small boat’s trip is stipulated as being toward the west; his departure for home is just as specific that it was towards the east; and since we can assume that he was still exploring, his courses must have been inshore as shown.

His first adventure was to land upon or near a beach to investigate objects of interest they espy upon the strand, which turn out to be three native boats upside down, so I refer to this now as "Three Canoe Strand".

Attributes of Three Canoe Strand are: exposure to the sea from coastal traffic; an inlet, cove or shelter to land as the larger knarr would not be landed upon an exposed shore; that there must be access to the shore from inland by canoe.

Horseneck Beach in Massachusetts fits this criteria, is about 10 miles from Leifsbudir and perhaps five or six hours sailing.

Thorvald continued on, continuing his coastal mode of travel as shown, and eventually along the way discovers Marthas Vinyard Straits and the Elizabeth Islands archipelago that extend SW from present day Falmouth MA. Here he would encounter difficult navigation by being so close to shorelines and also developing currents. Marthas Vinyard Straits and those between the Elizabeth Islands are noted for powerful tidal currents that alternate directions as the moon commands. They are quite powerful; easily strong enough at full flow to stem a sailboat if opposed, but if the time be right just as strong as to "boot" a vessel through at great speed, if the sail still be up. Thorvald remarks on an island where seabird nests are so close together as to make it difficult to walk, so this would be "Birdsey"; and a peninsula where animal excrement was so prevalent walking would be difficult and they called this "Dungeness". Since the ship or the after-boat must have been landed, they must have been in constrained waters, so I speculate that both these places were in this area near Falmouth as so indicated. (In Old Norse, the suffixes "—sey", "say", "—ney", and possibly "—nay" all signify islands. The suffix "—ness" signifies a peninsular or sometimes a headland. Viking navigators and pilots seem to have been meticulous in describing nautical features as their safety depended upon clear verbal communications between them.)

They could have been further along the coastline of Barnstable, but in the event, Thorvald eventually encountered storm conditions, was driven aground hard enough to brake the keel of the ship at a place he called "Keelness" and this place is one of the keys to the coastline, for it is a landfall in common with two expeditions – Thorvald traveling toward Greenland and the later Thorfinn Karlsefni away from Greenland.

Attributes for Keelness must be: exposure to sea traffic both northward and southward; either the peninsula upon which the ship wrecked had some shelter from the sea, or it was not so far from a sheltered place to where the damaged ship could be moved for repairs. To repair a keel requires full disassembly of the ship and this could not well be done on an exposed shoreline. There must have been shelter and most probably timber there or at some place not far distant.

The action of Thorvald setting the broken keel upright in the sand bears great significance. If suggests strongly that it was intended for a marker or monument; for other navigators to see it; and seen, know the courses to take for onward travel. After Leif’s discovery none of the navigators were blind and deaf to what had transpired here; they all knew each other well, in most cases related to each other, and the two earlier pioneers, Leif and Thorvald, must surely have communicated everything that they knew. The action of setting up the broken keel is significant in this light, the fact that it was constructed as a cross significant in yet another.

The area of Nauset would seem ideal for location of such conditions, especially when we now suspect that Monomoy Island may not have been there. Therefore, the precise location of the peninsula is likely lost as aggregating sand covered the place and formed a new island.

A remarkable thing takes place from here. The ship is repaired, the broken keel is mounted upright in the sand, they depart, yet Thorvald and crew seem in no hurry to proceed toward Greenland, for it is evident that they are still in an exploratory frame of mind. Specific courses are vague from here but they do remark on rounding a cape and eventually entering an estuary they term a fjord; and this fjord becomes not only one of the best described landfalls of Vinland, it is also a key to the overlook of the lands and coastlines of Vinland. Because Thorvald died of wounds here he was buried with crosses at both his head and his feet, so they called it "Crossannes".

Attributes of the fjord called "Crossannes" are: sizeable as to be termed a fjord, possibly a double ford; that within it, it has a prominent headland; that this headland had a channel close to a shoreline; that this shoreline was abrupt enough to permit landing by gangplank instead of beaching; that adjacent to this shoreline was a hill high enough for a broad overlook over the surrounding countryside; that at a little distance from this landing was a beach; that there was a native village across a waterway at some moderate distance from the headland.

Plymouth Harbor, Massachusetts.

Plymouth, the city, at low left

Plymouth Harbor – yes, that very one – fills the bill to a "T", so close, in fact, that progress of Thorvald’s ship and landing can be traced within yards. Entering the harbor from the sea, the estuary is divided by the prominent headland now identified as "Standish Shores" which has considerable altitude, now heightened by a monument to that famous Plymouth settler Miles Standish. The estuary has a tidal range of 14 feet (an exceptional span), so that a ship of five foot draft can travel anywhere at high tide, but otherwise the harbor never was attractive to shipping and never enjoyed classification as a favorable port because for the most part it is considered shallow and traffic is constrained to well defined and/or excavated channels. It must have been problematical for Thorvald no matter which stage of tide he encountered but he did have time to state and reiterate how attractive the place was and that it was his desire to return and settle.

On the west shore of Standish Shores a well defined channel touches the shoreline and from there immediately rises a stiff climb to the top of a hill for an extensive overlook. Here Thorvald contributed greatly to this study, for the party (evidently most of the crew, still bearing armor) state specifically that off in the distance they can see hills or mountains that seem to be the same as those close to where they had originated – Leifsbudir! This remark, even if not the fact, ties the coast of Vinland into a whole and is most reasonable when tracing his courses eastward and again westward. The arc of vision on the map indicates what they saw. It embraces two heights; Mount Hope on Narragansett Bay; and Blue Hills Range near Boston, both some 35 miles distant. Having tested the episode on site, I do know that Mount Hope on Narragansett Bay is within the range of vision but consider that Blue Hills is obscured by nearby terrain.

The Saga of Thorfinn Karlsefni and Gudrid Thorbjornsdottir. According to the Sagas, Thorfinn has befriended Leif Erickson and had married his widowed sister-in-law. The couple request purchase of Leifsbudir, are refused sale but granted full use of what has, by this time, become a fairly well developed encampment with at least five residential structures; Leif’s, at least, probably being reasonably substantial. They set off with their Saga stating specifically a course toward the North, and this notation has caused considerable confusion to scholars as being most unreasonable; the previous courses being toward the SW. To reconcile this in my research, I reconsidered the narrative statements that Gudrid’s first husband Thorstein Erickson had died of famine in the so-called "Western Settlement" (actually near due north) and that their farm there was probably still the property of the Widow. This is confirmed by the recorded fact that upon return from Vinland, they and their sons Snorri and Bjorn settled in a farm at that same "Western Settlement". This would seem reasonable if the land had remained in possession of Gudrid. (This farmstead is well known to Scandinavian scholars. It is called "Sandeness" and has been excavated with some astonishing discoveries, one of which is a lump of coal of a type that exists near Narragansett Bay and a broken flint arrowhead possibly Algonquin). Also to consider is that this expedition was sizeable, consisting of at least three ships and perhaps 160 persons carrying along much baggage and their cattle. The Greenland colony was still young, not much over 30 years since settlement, if that. To collect that number of pioneers must have required a scouring of the entire coastline, including a visit to the Western Settlement.

Eventually they reached a far land and their first landfall they call "Wunderstrands" or "Furdirstrands" which mean "Marvelous", or "Far-along" beaches. This compares well with the outer arm of Cape Cod, the ocean shore entirely a long beach of some 35 miles.

Sailing along it they come next to a place they call "Keelness" and here we see a result that has been a problem to Vinland scholars, because for some reason certain of them have claimed "--- because it looked like the keel of a ship". I cannot state that this description might be something added by a well meaning analyst sometime in the past. The Sagas might well state this, but I doubt the simile because in order for this to be seen in this way, there must be hill or dune of a certain shape, or that the navigators have an accurate "birds-eye" perspective of the terrain. It is acceptable that the parties in the three ships did see a dune of a certain shape and this also might indicate a Cape Cod perspective of a dune long eroded away. It is not likely to have been a "birds-eye" perspective because this is seldom a grace enjoyed by seamen without charts or instruments. Outer Cape Cod, might look like the outline of a ship’s keel, although few keels have been made that way since ancient Greece, but to the navigator observing the sands of Cape Cod, the curve is not evident – the land seems to extend away north and south with no curve detectable. Most early maps and charts show it as straight and irregular, which is the perspective of a person aboard ship.

So then, recall Thorvald’s action in setting his broken keel upright and an unavoidable suggestion arises that perhaps this "Keelness" named by Karlsefni is one and the same peninsula upon which Thorvald had wrecked. This is confirmed by certain records (apparently rare) that Karlsefni actually sent a small boat ashore to examine the keel. The unusual name in common and realities of seaward perspectives suggests that the Keelness of Karlsefni and the Keelness of Thorvald are one and the same place. The fact of a landfall in common to the two expeditions informs us that Karlsefni and party have arrived at the same latitude and area that Thorvald and Leif had explored. But this is not the only reference that permits this deduction.

Observation of this broken keel now informs Karlsefni to a new course of action – a turn westward, which, if we believe was the Nauset area would be west along the Barnstable arm of Cape Cod. At this juncture neither Nantucket nor Marthas Vinyard are visible. It may be that perhaps Karlsefni could see several wooded isles to west, but, since assuredly, he now knew from the deceased Thorvald’s "pilot" that this coastline extended west, even if he could not see through Marthas Vinyard Straits. But in approaching those straits he would encounter those powerful currents. Perhaps they balked progress; perhaps they aided a while and changed direction; apparently Karlsefni decided to land upon what they saw to their "larboard" (left), which turned out to be an island which they now named "Staumney". The Sagas themselves are explicit that this name, "Stream Island" resulted from powerful currents around it. This is our first definite clue to the probability that Marthas Vinyard had been the Straumney of the Vinland Sagas.

Quite an adventure transpired here a thousand years ago. Some, at least, of the party wintered over here and from their tales we can list Straumney’s attributes as:

The island was of a size to consume three days explorations to the southward of the landing on the north side; a seaward aspect possessed strong currents; it had a moderate climate and luxurious appearance; it had as part of its botany grapes, self-sown wheat, poison ivy; "cliffs"; access for deep water whales; no resident natives; it is adjacent to and at no great distance from a fjord; it is south of a cape (reasonably "Vinlandia Promuntorum" because outer Cape Cod is the most dominant feature for any navigator sailing this coastline).

Marthas Vinyard Island compares perfectly with these attributes both then and today. The luxurious appearance is deduced from the narrative remark of lack of effort in collecting foodstuffs for winter, resulting in famine - overconfidence. Marthas Vinyard does not have cliffs of the sort we normally envision as rocky, but it does have high, sandy bluffs. The same 1717 Southack chart used for reference here states presence of "cliffs" along the north side (Oak Bluffs) where, today, we see high, steep and sandy hillsides. It is, apparently, upon one of these that the unfortunate Thorhall the Hunter retreated for his agonizing encounter with what modern New Englanders can readily accept to have been that bane of the unwary called poison ivy.

The brown line and arrow departing Marthas Vinyard represents the departure of Thorhall the Hunter. He is said to have been diverted by west winds after passing the cape and a natural destination of Ireland, where he was abused and killed, is likely caused by west winds and Gulf Stream currents from a position where is shown the brown arrow.

There is a sense that the party, now reduced to two ships (unless joined by others, which seems probable), shares some confusion as to just where they are and the argument of Thorhall the Hunter seems to confirm it, he being certain that they have passed Leisbudir somehow, and that it was his intention so seek it "—north beyond the cape". The explorations to and within nearby Straumfjord suggest that perhaps they believe that Straumfjord is really Leifsfjord, but in the event, after the discouraging winter, some or all push on to the place they call "Hop".

Freydis Ericksdottir. While in the Sagas, she achieves prominence only in an aftermath, she also is a key "player" in the search for Leifsbudir, for she is recorded to have been present in two expeditions, that of Thorfinn and then in her own. Often overlooked, she gains presence in the narrative form here presented. She journeyed twice the long searoads; was an active participant in the battle that took place at Hop; she seems to have been the longest resident of Vinland; she was the mother of the second child born in Vinland; she yields information resolving conflicts of distances of Vinland from Greenland; and she indicates strongly that, truly, Leifsbudir and Hop were one and the same place.

One: her tale states that her expedition consisted of two ships that departed Greenland at the same time, early separated, yet arrived at Leifsbudir only a fortnight apart. This would seem impossible if, as is commonly assumed, Leifsbudir and Hop were separate places, especially at a range of travel that she also defines for us:

Two: her Saga is explicit that upon her departure she followed Viking custom by commencing "early in the Spring" and then, "-- after a happy trip arrived in Greenland early in the Summer." This represents a full season of travel – three months. But it might also represent added time, for early Summer in Greenland is later than early Summer in Vinland, so it could well mean four months of travel in a recorded "happy trip". Almost certainly they spent time in protracted landings along the way, but this three to four months of "easy" travel compares well with a prospective trip in modern times for a sailboat with no auxiliary power from New England to Greenland.

These maps, collectively indicate 12 landings and landfalls upon the coastline of Vinland. Three compare so closely with present day sites that it presents no difficulty in assuming that they may well have been visited by Vikings a thousand years ago. The fourth, "Barn Island", compares nearly as well, so that we can define the coastline of Vinland with four dominant places: Crossannes; Straumney; Leifsbudir; Barn Island. All of these fit the descriptions and also bear correct relationships with each other.

Now, four sites may not seem many; so also seem the limited attributes that can be applied to them. But mathematically, there is an argument well over and above chance. Mathematics does not fully integrate realities of geography and natural occurrences. The attributes applied to the four sites are distinct; they define a district fairly well. It would be a challenge for any Vinland Scholar or any navigator to locate these defined conditions and relationships any place else along the North American seaboard – perhaps anywhere else in the world. We list 15 landfalls (not including those at Leifsbudir/Hop itself) and they total 25 attributes.

The "argument" here presented seems strong enough to weigh the balance of probability to the positive side; that this coastline is, arguably, the Vinland of Leif Erickson and his following explorers.

The question remains, then, whether Pettaquamscutt in Rhode Island is the landing site we call Leifsbudir. As can be observed on the map, approaches to it present no untoward or convoluted courses; the river outlet there is, indeed, the very first of possible landing sites by a "natural" (visually most obvious,) course along the coastline, thence from Block Island toward that great fjord called Narragansett Bay.

The attributes of Leifsbudir and Hop are many; many more than for the above listed four landfalls. The Sagas narrate the actual landing of Leif Erickson and describe conditions of the river mouth; supported with an added description by Karlsefni, who arrived there years later. The recorded Norse occupation of the site spanned some twenty to thirty years. For that time it was an outpost of European culture. Records of Viking adventures there permits the assiduous reader to wonder at events and the vivid descriptions that appear through the mists of time to our view.

Frederick N. Brown                           Yarnell AZ USA Autumn 2012

 

 

 

 

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