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The Viking Discovery of America: The Excavation of a Norse Settlement in L'Anse Aux Meadows, Newfoundland Hardcover – October, 2001


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 192 pages
  • Publisher: Checkmark Books (October 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0816047162
  • ISBN-13: 978-0816047161
  • Product Dimensions: 11.2 x 8.7 x 0.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #959,066 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Helge, born 1899, and his late wife Anne Stine Ingstad, archaeologists extraordinaire, shared a special interest in Viking research. From 1961 to 1968 they conducted a series of intensive archaeological expeditions to L’Anse aux Meadows, Newfoundland, solving the mystery of the first European settlement in North America. --This text refers to an alternate Hardcover edition.

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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Lee Madland on July 23, 2006
Format: Hardcover
This account of Norse explorations in America by Helge and Anne Stine Ingstad, focuses on the ruins they found and excavated, left by Norse settlers near the present village of L'Anse aux Meadows on the northern tip of Newfoundland, somewhere around 1000 AD according to carbon dating. Helge Ingstad, a Norwegian, wrote most of the text of this well illustrated 199-page large-format book. His archeologist wife, in charge of the actual diggings, wrote the chapter on their meticulous uncovering of the ruins of eight turf buildings during the course of seven seasons from 1961 to 1968, the largest of which, House F, contained six main rooms separated by turf walls. Much smaller but of key importance was House J, a working "smithy" in which local bog iron was smelted. The three houses A, B, and C, closely clustered together, have since been restored to original condition to form the core of a Canadian national historic park established in 1977 and open to visitors, complete with "re-enactors" dressed in Old Norse costumes. The site's second-largest house, A, is a longhouse about 75 feet in length with four rooms. Much of the described detail of the actual digs will probably be lost on many general readers, but this chapter does convey a sense of the incredibly slow and painstaking efforts involved in any important archeological dig.

No doubt of greater interest to the non-archeologically inclined will be Helge Ingstad's chapters on the background of the Norse Vinland ventures in the region, including an illuminating analysis of the two pertinent sagas. Of these, the one long believed to be the more authentic ("Erik the Red's Saga"), presumably because of its more sophisticated literary style, many now consider factually the less reliable.
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24 of 29 people found the following review helpful By LarryE on October 18, 2002
Format: Hardcover
I would have liked to have given this book 2.5 stars, right in the middle, because I really think it's a so-so book. But since the choice was 2 or 3 and 2 was too low, 3 stars it is.
There is certainly a good deal of history and scholarship shown here, and for those such as myself who have an interest in the subject but lay no claim to expertise, much to be gained.
But I couldn't shake the feeling that some academic scores were being settled. Helge Ingstad, who wrote most of the first parts of the book (with his wife, Anne Stine Ingstad, doing the part about the actual L'Anse aux Meadows dig), spends too much time deriding viewpoints alternate to his own. Since it was his line of reasoning that lead to the discovery of the L'Anse aux Meadows site, it seems that focusing on his own arguments should have been enough.
Apparently, though, it wasn't. A major part of the book consists of summaries and analyses of two sagas telling different stories of the Vikings in Greenland and their exploration of North America. One, Erik's Saga, is a ripping good yarn that apparently had been the version favored by scholars. Ingstad makes a convincing argument that the other, The Groenlendinga Saga, is more historically reliable. But he does it at such length (about 1/3 the book) and in such language that the argument comes across as personal as much as academic, as a means of taking pokes at those on the other side of the issue. For example, The Groenlendinga Saga is a "plain, straightforward narrative" of "generally authentic nature," while Erik's Saga is by turns "improbable," "fiction" influenced by fables, "cannot be correct," "more than a little suspect," "incredible," and so on and so on.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Michael K. Smith TOP 500 REVIEWER on March 12, 2007
Format: Hardcover
Until Ingstad came along in the late 1950s, there was a principle operating among most U.S. historians which Charles Michael Boland called NEBC: "No Europeans Before Columbus." Then Ingstad, a trained lawyer and natural outdoors and explorer with a wife who was a professional archaeologist, looked again at his astute analysis of the Greenlanders' Saga and Erik's Saga, combined that with his extensive travels in the Arctic, and came to the conclusion that Helluland *had* to be Baffin Island, Markland *had* to be the mid-Atlantic coast of Labrador, and Vinland therefore *had* to be somewhere in the upper part of Newfoundland. To top it off, he was convinced that "Vinland" referred to meadows ("Vin" with a short "I"), not grapevines ("Vin" with a long "I"). In this popular but very informative treatment, he takes the reader step-by-step through his thought processes and explains in an entirely convincing manner why all this *had* to be so. Then, of course, he went out in a small boat, retraced the path Leif had taken (which itself was the reverse of the path Bjarni had taken), and when he got to the tiny, isolated village of L'Anse aux Meadows on the Strait of Belle Isle, he stopped and asked the local fishermen if they knew of any ruins in the area. "Sure do," they replied and the Ingstad spent the next eight years platting and excavating the foundations of a cluster of turf houses, plus a smithy, a kiln, and a row of boathouses on the creek that ran through the meadow. It's a fascinating story and this edition is beautifully illustrated. If you're interested in the Norse, or the history of discovery, or Newfoundland, or archaeology, you'll want to read this book.
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