Homelands
History

Like the sagas, historical documents are not always trustworthy sources for events that happened in the past. Historical documents were written by people with different points of view and for different purposes. Such records are not always objective and may not even be truthful. In the case of Vinland the Good, there are very scant historic records supporting the saga accounts.

Skálholt Map
Skálholt Map
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There are only two pieces of historical information about Vinland. Report of a land beyond Greenland where wild grapes and wheat grew was recorded by Adam of Bremen in A.D. 1075, based on information he received from Svein Ulfsson (also called Estridsson), king of Denmark, in A.D. 1068 or 1069. Knowledge of Vinland also appears in The Book of the Icelanders, the first written history of Iceland, compiled by Ari the Wise between A.D. 1122 and 1133. Ari also tells that Erik the Red had found human habitation remains in Greenland that indicated the presence of people similar to the skraelings met in Vinland.

These somewhat casual references to Vinland may indicate that its location was assumed to be public knowledge. Or, maybe the Europeans and Vikings did not consider the discovery of a new land as noteworthy as we would imagine.


Pam Ward Levi on New Brunswick Resources

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Ever since modern translations of the sagas became available, historians, naturalists, navigators, astronomers, archeologists and others have tried to identify the location of the saga lands from descriptions in the texts. Theories abound, ranging from Baffin Island to the Bahamas and even Brazil. The obvious arctic and subarctic locations of Helluland (flat-slab land) and Markland (forest land) convinced scholars that Vinland (wine land) must have been located in the more temperate regions between Maine and Newfoundland where resources like grapes, salmon, grass, self-sown wheat, flatfish, and burl-wood (mosur) described in the sagas were available. While this general outline was agreed upon, historians are by no means in agreement on the particulars. In truth, new theories describing the history of the Vinlann voyages continue to be published every few years.