Vinland sagas

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Summer in the Greenland coast c.1000 by Carl Rasmussen
Possible routes traveled in Saga of Eric the Red and Saga of the Greenlanders

The Vinland Sagas are two Icelandic texts written independently of each other in the early 13th century—The Saga of the Greenlanders (Grænlendinga Saga) and The Saga of Erik the Red, (Eiríks Saga Rauða). The sagas were written down between 1220 and 1280, much later than the initial time of action 970–1030.[1]

The Saga of Erik the Red and The Saga of the Greenlanders both contain different accounts of Norse voyages to Vinland. The name Vinland meaning "Wineland," is attributed to the discovery of grapevines upon the arrival of Leif Eiriksson in North America. The Vinland Sagas represent the most complete information we have about the Norse exploration of the Americas although due to Iceland's oral tradition, they cannot be deemed completely historically accurate and include contradictory details. However, historians commonly believe these sources contain substantial evidence of Viking exploration of North America through the descriptions of topography, natural resources, and native culture. In comparing the events of both books, a realistic timeline can be created.[2][3]

The veracity of the Sagas was supported by the discovery and excavation of a Viking Era settlement at L'Anse aux Meadows in Newfoundland, Canada. Research done in the early 1960s by Norwegian explorer Helge Ingstad and his wife, archaeologist Anne Stine Ingstad, identified an old Norse settlement located at what is now the L'Anse aux Meadows National Historic Site of Canada.[4]


English translations of both of the Vinland sagas can be found in the following works:

  • Kunz, Keneva; Sigurdsson, Gisli, The Vinland Sagas, London: Penguin, 2008, ISBN 0-14-044776-8.
  • Kunz, Keneva, The Sagas of the Icelanders, London: Penguin, 2005, ISBN 0-14-100003-1.
  • Magnusson, Magnus; Palsson, Hermann, The Vinland Sagas, London: Penguin, 1973, ISBN 0-14-044154-9.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Vikings: The North Atlantic Saga". Smithsonian Institution. Archived from the original on February 23, 2002. Retrieved October 18, 2015.
  2. ^ "Vinland Sagas". Smithsonian Institution National Museum of Natural History. Archived from the original on December 23, 2015. Retrieved October 18, 2015.
  3. ^ Thayer Watkins. "The Vinland Sagas". San José State University. Economics Department. Retrieved October 18, 2015.
  4. ^ "L'Anse aux Meadows National Historic Site of Canada". Parks Canada. Retrieved October 18, 2015.


Further reading[edit]

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