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Tree rings support Saga claims

21.10.2021 - 11:36
Mynd með færslu
Byggðin sem fannst á L´Anse aux Meadows hefur verið endurgerð. Svæðið er á heimsminjaskrá UNESCO. Mynd: Wikimedia Commons
New archaeological research in Newfoundland, Canada, indicates that Norse travellers did settle in North America (further west than Greenland) a thousand years ago. It was analysis of tree rings which led scientists to the conclusion that seems to confirm the version of events in the Sagas, CNN reports.

Timber used to build houses in northern Newfoundland indicates that the Vikings sailed their longships there in 1021, the remains indicate. The timber remains, from three species of tree, were cut with steel the likes of which Native Americans did not have access to at the time. 

The reason archaeologists are sure of the age of the wood is thanks to the sun. There was a very large solar storm in 992 which meant the growth rings within tree trunks in 993 are easily identified. The tree rings from L’Anse aux Meadows clearly show this year, plus a further 29 years before they were cut down, archaeologists were able to deduce with some certainty, Margot Kuitems from the University of Groningen in the Netherlands told CNN. 

It is impossible to say how many trips the Norse travellers made to North America, however, or how long they stayed there at a time. Research suggests their settlements were temporary—possibly seasonal. There are indications that the Vikings travelled south during their stays in America to assess conditions. 

Professor Michael Dee, isotope dating specialist at the University of Groningen, says the new results go some way to confirming the Sagas of the Icelanders, including the Saga of Eiríkur the Red and others, which detail their voyages to the west. 

Scientists had previously believed Nordic sailors visited North America shortly before and shortly after the year 1000. The results of the new research mean, according to Dee, that the Vikings probably came later than previously thought, but that they came on several expeditions over a longer time period, and stayed longer than previously believed. 

Dee says the next stage of the research will be to delve deeper into the Viking history of North America, hopefully using new research methods and manuscripts from the Middle Ages. The results of the new research in Newfoundland have been published in the Nature journal. 

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Alexander Elliott
Fréttastofa RÚV