Researchers say that in 1021 there were Vikings in North America

This place is called L’anse aux Meadows and is located north of the island of Newfoundland in present day Canada. Viking researchers from settlements in Greenland chose to set up an outpost on a hill overlooking the sea.

Large and small houses and boat houses were built here, and archaeologists have discovered workshops and tools.

The place was discovered by Norwegian adventurer Helge Ingstad and his wife Ann Stein Ingstad. Anne Stein Ingstad was an archaeologist who led excavations between 1961 and 1968. You can read this story from UiT at

Two types of houses and artifacts excavated indicate that they were northerners – the Vikings who went abroad.

Until now, it was the only Viking settlement in North America, although people searched other farms and homes, Dogfin Screy says. He is Professor of Iron Age and Viking Archeology at the Museum of Cultural History. He has worked extensively on immigration history.

Researchers have long believed that L’anse aux Meadows lived in the 1000s. Scray says it is based primarily on ratings of Icelandic sagas – modern-day kings and Viking tales. For example, in the saga of Eric Rowdy, the story of Leave Erickson’s journey to Vinland is told, According to Store Norske Lexicon.

Previous dating is about what types of objects have been discovered in Newfoundland and for what period of time they apply.

But now that a Canadian-Dutch research team has arrived in any given year, there must have been people based on science dating.

They describe the research in an article in Nature and point out that there must have been 1021 people there, but they could not determine when people got there or how long they were there.

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But how do they reach such an accurate year?

It is a reconstructed outpost in L’Anse aux Meadows on the island of Newfoundland, Canada. It may have been like this in the years it was used. If we are to believe the new results, it was used in 1021.

Posts cut by the Vikings?

It has been decades since immigration was discovered, but previous attempts to date buildings and objects have left large gaps. Due to outdated methods or bad conditions.

Without drawing a clear picture of when L’anse aux Meadows was used, researchers behind the study of Nature discuss earlier research that suggested possible dates for the Viking Age.

The new dating is based on radio carbon dating. Creatures such as humans, trees or animals work to absorb carbon while we are alive. It becomes part of a tree or bone.

In this study, the researchers used pieces of wood cut by metal tools not used by the indigenous people. The lumps form from the foundation of the house and come from the rubbish mound outside the house. Therefore, researchers reasonably believe that these are pieces of wood carved by Viking hands.

Some or all of this carbon in an organism, or these pieces of wood, are radioactive, and the radiation coming from space affects the carbon in the atmosphere. When the tree dies, it stops taking in carbon and the radiocarbon disappears.

After several thousand years it is possible to calculate how much radiocarbon left, how much. This compares to the amount of radioactive carbon that has been in the atmosphere for thousands of years.

This method provides an approximate estimate of when something was alive, and read more about the technique in this case from

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But researchers can use 1021 as a very special year.

A global phenomenon

The reason is that in the year 993 something global happened and it suddenly increased the amount of radiocarbon in the atmosphere in a short time. According to the Nature article, it is found in trees around the world. The information is stored in the tree’s growth rings and if the tree is still alive, this event can be detected as 993/994.

This allowed researchers to find traces of the 993 incident and calculate ahead until they reach the outer layer of the tree – i.e. the year the tree was cut down. In this way they reach 1021. Three of the four strains studied by researchers have been cut this year.

It is not entirely clear what happened in 993. This event is described in one Natural contact research article from 2013, and researchers think it could be a phenomenon of strong solar winds hitting our atmosphere.

So the biggest solar storm of 993 made it possible to get reliable dating of some pieces of wood from a Viking site in Newfoundland.

Archaeologist Anne Stein led Ingstad during the excavation of L'anse aux Meadow.  This photo was taken in 1963

Archaeologist Anne Stein Ingstad led the work during the excavation of L’anse aux Meadow. This photo was taken in 1963

Year 1021

What does this year mean for the first European immigration to North America?

Dokfin Screy describes the scientific confirmation that there was a Northern colony here and that it was in use in 1021. This dating is actually very close to previous estimates based on historical evidence.

At the same time, he believes that this will not have a major impact on the understanding of chronology in the Viking Age.

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– Takafin Scre says, Saga’s usual opinion is that it was before or after 1000.

Scray is not involved in new research, but is involved as an independent researcher in a fellow review of the article in Nature. This means that he has thoroughly reviewed the facts and assessments of the researchers before publishing the results.

– Saga researchers believe Vinlandsbosetningen is some 1000 years old, and 1021 is the end of known dating from Saga. But no one believes the sagas cover all the voyages between Greenland and Vinland.

Stories describing Lew Erickson’s voyage from Greenland to Vinland were written in the 13th century, several hundred years after what actually happened. These stories were passed on orally before they were written.

But how long did they stay?

Based on the epics, one can also estimate how long they lasted. In a new research article, researchers describe different estimates of two different sagas. It may be 3 to 13 years, but it is uncertain.

– The new dating says nothing about the period of settlement before and after 1021, and Dogfin Screy says they were there that year.

Among the Vikings who lived in Greenland, people were not likely to be there all the time, for example, L’anse aux Meadows was in use in the summer.

– Dogfin’s Screy thinks that they are not always sure that they will bathe more, and that the shelter may be more divided than the legends say.

No other Viking settlements were found, pointing to the Leave Erickson outpost described in the Sagos.

– It’s so easy with so many different techniques, it’s hard to believe that another farm has gone undiscovered. This place fits in well with the saga descriptions.

So the question is whether there are other Viking outposts lurking in North America that could shed more light on what happened there 1,000 years ago.


Dee mfl: Evidence for the presence of Europeans in the United States in 1021 AD. Nature, 2021. DOI: 10.1038 / s41586-021-03972-8. Note

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