The main reason for heading up to the far-northern tip of Newfoundland is to go and see the settlements in L’Anse aux Meadows — the only confirmed Norse site in North America. In 1960, Norwegian researchers found archaeological evidence of ~1,000-year old buildings that were similar to known Norse sights in Greenland and Iceland. We were fortunate enough to get a tour from a Parks Canada Guide who was a young boy in the nearby fishing village when the site was first discovered. He had played on the “Indian mounds” (as they were then known) as a child, and had a front-row seat to the excavations through the 1960s. From him, we heard the history of the place as an archeological site and as a fishing village at the end of the world.
Nowadays, the genuine Norse longhouses aren’t much to look at. With the artifacts removed, they’ve been sodded over with just a few plaques to mark where they were found. But Parks Canada has some modern recreations with staff playing their viking roles with great enthusiasm. Our boys spent over an hour chatting with the “vikings,” watching them make soup, trying to lift a shield and a sword.
After L’Anse aux Meadows, we made a quick visit down the road to Norstead, where there’s a modern replica of a longship that was actually sailed from Greenland to Newfoundland, and a variety of other Norse trades on display.