June 25, 2022, St. John’s-
L’Anse aux Meadows Along the northern tip of Newfoundland, there once lived at least three nations of people, who were lumped together by the Viking fishermen, upon their landing at Quirpon Island and the nearby mainland, and called Skraeling, after the term they used to describe the Inuit of Greenland. The term variously means “wearer of animal pelts”, “wearer of dried skins”, “barbarians” or even “weaklings”.
At first, the Vikings stayed on Quirpon and at the sight now known as L’Anse aux Meadows ,a corruption of the French L’Anse aux Medee, which means “Medea’s Cove”, after a ship Medea, of the French commercial fishing fleet that docked in what is now Gumper’s Bay, in the 16th and 17th Centuries. The Vikings first settled here in 990 A.D. and went back to Greenland in 1050. so their artifacts being here at all are an extra treasure. Whether they also went south to Cape Cod is still up for debate.
The above scene shows the boggy area that greeted the Vikings. They had to choose their steps very carefully. Visitors today have nice boardwalks on which to tread.
My first walk was on Harry Youden’s Trail. He was a fervent supporter of unearthing Viking relics in this area, which was one of his favourite places to walk and meditate.
The above sculpture was commissioned by UNESCO, when L’Anse aux Meadows was designated a World Heritage Site.
Below, one of several mementos left by Harry, creating both a personal and “Fae” ambiance.
Note the ventilation ducts. The Norse used them, and here’s why:
One of the few women in the settlement group was a sailor’s wife, who was also a sale maker. As she was not sewing sails all the time, she busied herself with creative projects, like this above.
I spoke for several minutes with the docent who portrayed this busy woman, as well as with the woodworking and cook docents. All of them emphasized the constant work that needed doing, twelve hours a day, seven days a week, in this novel environment. All of the settlers longed, constantly, for “home”-Greenland.
NEXT POST: The road to Deer Lake (with Gros Morne National Park along the way)