L'Anse aux Meadows
By Peter Sjolander, 1995 Fullerton, California.
In the summer of 1995 I visited this Viking site. What
surprised me about the site was the layout. It was very
carefully sited. The site was below the water level of
two wonderful ponds. One of the ponds looked like men
had helped to dam it up. This pond was a favorite
fishing hole and had been for a long time. My
impression was that the Vikings stocked this pond
during the summer so that they would have easy fishing
in the winter. The other pond looked like it would be a
natural source of clean drinking water for the site.
Since both ponds were above the level of the site the
Vikings could easily have had running water into their
A small stream ran from the ponds through the site. By the
lay of the land it looked like the stream could be
dammed up just seaward of the site to cause a small wet
dock to form in the center of the site. It looked like
a fine place to work on boats. With both wet and dry
capabilities. By the location of this site I would say
that the main output of the site was small boats that
could be portaged around Niagara falls and then into the
great lakes. My guess is that this site was in use for
200 years. Its location is that perfect.
The other thing that struck me about the site was the
position of the bog oar furnace. When I stood in the
furnace and looked out from where the door was placed, I
was looking right at the most eastern point of Labrador.
That means that the light from the door of the furnace
was the first thing a Viking would see when coming south
along the coast of Labrador from Greenland. The
placement of the site was very well planned.
There were some conclusions drawn that I did not agree
with. The archaeologists found only a small amount of
slag with a very high iron content. From this the
archaeologists concluded that only a small amount of
poor quality iron was fired here.
When I looked all around the site for miles around, the
whole place had the look and feel of an old strip mine.
My conclusion is that the high iron content slag was
just the first step. This slag was then taken to a
different site for another step in the process. With
this in mind I looked for other sites.
Along one of the rivers on the eastern shore of the bay
of Fundy is a surface coal deposit. The French worked
it out in the 1700s. I suspect that the Vikings used
this surface coal to do the second step in the iron
The whole bay of Fundy is a Viking kind
of heaven. There are waterfalls that run both ways
with giant fresh water lakes behind them. Rivers that
run both ways so you never need to row home. Rich farm
land that does not need to be cleared because the floods
keep it cleared.
In closing I found one other site of interest. On an
island just off the Maine coast I saw a sign for
magnetic sand. Well the sign was a lie but there was a
lot of high iron sand there anyway. And 300 yards down
the beach I found a bolder with a Viking mooring hole in
it. Now this was no place to land a boat the beach was
covered with these boulders. No one would ever land a
boat here and the bolder was too small. Thus I said the
stone is a marker. But a marker of what? The shore
cliff just above the stone had two points jutting out
and an old dead tree right in the center of the two
points. When I climbed around on top of the cliff it
was full of rocks covered with undergrowth with a little
water running out. The old dead tree was a cedar about
a 1000 years old. It felt like a perfect place to bury
a Viking. With his ship or without I don't know.
Last changed 6:29PM 1/21/96