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Horwood, Joan.

Illustrated by Bill Ritchie. St. John's, Jesperson Press and Newfoundland Historic Parks Association, c1985. 48pp, paper, $6.95, ISBN 0-920502-50-4. Distributed by Jesperson Press. CIP

Grades 5-8
Reviewed by Joan McGrath

Volume 14 Number 3
1986 May

Most students are aware of the Vikings, or Norsemen, as fierce raiders, the scourge of Europe during the Dark Ages; but they were as well pioneers and colonizers, for whom the "Viking Age" was named. Some few misty tales of their early pioneering years in North America remain; tales of Erik the Red, first to see the New World, who colonized Greenland in approximately 986; Bjarni Herjolfsson, who sighted still newer strange lands to the west; Erik's famous son Leif Eriksson, who founded "Vinland," a place of grassy meadows; and of terrible Freydis, Erik's fierce daughter, a northern match for Lady Macbeth. The northern colonies did not prosper for long. There was trouble with the Skraelings, or Indians, who understandably, and quite rightly, feared the incursion of these strange, pale invaders. Vinland vanished into the mists of time, gone, but not quite forgotten.

The fragmentary stories of the lost colony created a great interest in the actual whereabouts of mysterious Vinland, and the search lasted for more than one hundred years, covering the entire eastern seaboard, and extending as far west as Minnesota. At last, inquiries led to ancient ruins in northern Newfoundland, at L'Anse aux Meadows. Dr. Helge Ingstad. an eminent Norwegian explorer, undertook studies and excavations, lasting from 1961 to 1968, on the site, Eight turf houses and various outbuildings were identified, as well as numerous artifacts, which proved through the carbon-dating process to be approximately one thousand years old. It is still not proven that L'Anse aux Meadows was truly Vinland, but it was and is the first authenticated Norse site in North America, and "therefore one of the world's major archaeological sites." Readable and quite interesting, Viking Discovery provides a glimpse into one of the least familiar periods of North American history. Rough-hewn illustrations convey a period flavour well suited to the material, while black-and-white photographs provide a clear picture of the terrain and artifacts recovered. Not indexed, but a useful bibliography is provided.

Joan McGrath. Toronto Board of Education, Toronto, Ont.
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