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The vikings in north america and oceangoing shipping essay

About a thousand years ago a remarkable fleet of twenty-five oceangoing Viking ships set sail and departed from north-west Iceland. They carried a motley cargo of men, women, and children-perhaps five hundred persons in all-as well as cattle, sheep, and horses, in addition to provisions, hay, and weapons and tools commonly used in the Viking Age. Standing mournfully beneath the billowing sails, the voyagers saw their homeland slowly disappear below the horizon; mixed feelings of sadness and hope must have prevailed among one and all-for these were emigrants who were leaving Iceland for good and were heading for a completely new country.

The country had already been named Greenland. This expedition set out in the year 986 or possibly 985and its leader was Eirik the Red. He had originally come to Iceland from Norway but had been declared an outlaw in his new country, whereupon he had sailed his ship westward across the open ocean in order to seek a land which other sailors had barely glimpsed.

He became the actual discoverer of Greenland, and he spent three whole years exploring its south-western coasts. Following his return to Iceland he took the initiative in organizing this large expedition and assumed leadership of the pioneers who were to colonize the new land.

He must indeed have been a remarkable man. The voyage was a hazardous one, through the drift-ice and the stormy seas along the coasts of Greenland. Fourteen ships arrived at last in the south-western part of the island; the rest were either shipwrecked or forced to turn back.

The newcomers settled along strips of land in the shadow of the great inland glacier and prepared for a new life. They constructed their dwellings from stones and turf; the men fished, and hunted caribou and seals with bows and arrows or with harpoons, while the women tended the cattle and kept busy with spinning and weaving and other household chores. Two separate settlements came into being: A community emerged, an independent republic was set up, and the population increased.

This Greenlandic society existed for almost five hundred years-then the people completely vanished. Their fate has remained a mystery to this day. Friis Macmillan of Canada, Toronto, 1969: Islands complicated it; on some, Eskimoes lived, and these the skipper, Jon, decided to ignore.

He landed at last on an island heavy with the silence of solitude. Above the shore, however, he saw buildings, half-ruined but familiar, buildings like those he had seen often in Iceland: Before them, a man lay, the woollen hood on his head covering his features as he curled face-down in the dirt.

Sealskin and woollen clothes covered him. A knife lay beside him, curved, the blade worn by years of use and sharpening. At the feet of these astonished sailors he rested there in the long inertia of the dead - the vikings in north america and oceangoing shipping essay the last European visitors to Greenland's Viking colony, he the last Greenland Viking anyone would ever see. It would seem that there was far more. In fact sufficient evidence exists to suggest that the last Vikings triumphed over the hardships of the Northwest Passage, and that the legendary lands of the Viking Sagas - Helluland, Markland and Vinland - are located on the West Coast of North America, not the East.

Helluland extending from Etolin Island in Alaska south past the Bella Coola region of British Columbia; the Queen Charlotte Islands more than meeting the technical requirements for Markland, with British Columbia's Duncan and the Cowichan Valley in the south-east corner of Vancouver Island providing the most logical technical fit for Vinland itself.

The immediacy arises naturally enough from the medium itself since the vast majority of internet papers are readable in situ on reception. But perhaps more importantly, even in their hypertext form the majority of internet papers are also searchable via the "Find" functions of most browsers live links includedor more widely--where installed--though local computer versions of more powerful search engines.

The latter considerations have some bearing on the present series of essays and most previous essays for that matterfor rather than drastically summarizing the works of others I have let the writers basically speak for themselves. This is not from idleness, verbosity, or fear of misunderstanding, but rather to present their thoughts and observations in an unmodified and readily available form.

For the same reason references also follow most quotations, thus aligned with each presentation and at the same time searchable under the author's name and subject under consideration. The intent throughout has been to keep the information level high, but still general with further technical details and material available via embedded links. In this sense the essays are a hybrid form somewhere between a survey and a technical paper. Intended for a wide audience, the format generally leans more towards the former than the latter.

On a technical note, the immediacy and impact of graphical representations are useful for Internet presentations, but in the present case the number of detailed maps and figures has necessitated a small trade-off between quality of presentation and downloading speed.

As in previous essays, the text is also condensed; once again the result is a relatively wide-ranging outline for general readers rather the vikings in north america and oceangoing shipping essay a tight, academic treatment for specialists alone. To have proceeded otherwise, however, would almost certainly have entailed a lengthy expansion beyond the present introductory treatment into what Theodore M. Mostly along the Northwest Passage itself, my work locations ranged from the Yukon coast to Cape Parry at the western entrance, various locations above the Arctic Circle in the Central and Eastern Arctic, both west and east coasts of Baffin Island, and also both sides of Hudson Bay.

I was in fact at Cape Parry in 1969 when the "Manhattan" super-tanker came through the Passage, and at Cambridge Bay in the Central Arctic in 1984 when the "Lindblad Explorer" the first luxury vessel to complete the transit paid a short visit. And "Final" it assuredly was, for the transit took place south of the Distant Early Warning Line, and thus for the "Cold Warriors" of this venerable system the "War" was indeed truly over.

Between lengthy stints in the Arctic I was also fortunate enough to attend University on a full-time basis, obtaining a B. Here again my time in the Arctic served me well, for it ultimately supplied a topic for my thesis "National Defence and Northern Development: The last mentioned are, however, minor qualifications and not necessary pre-requisites for the present subject itself.

What does seem to be required, I would suggest, is practical acquaintance with not only the Pacific Northwest, but also the Arctic environment, and not least of all, an awareness of the seasonal round--the latter best understood by experiencing two arctic winters in succession the first to know what it is like, and the second to know what is coming. One also needs to experience just how long, hard, dark and cold such winters really are, and how glorious though all too short are the summers; and likewise understand how tenuous life must have been for those who subsisted off the land, the sea and the ice.

Life is simply too hard in such regions, the social units too thin, and in addition, it is also a fundamental insult to suggest that the Inuit ever harboured such a debased and warlike outlook. Nor, knowing the hardships and the severity of the living conditions in the Arctic, it is easy to accept without question the prevalent notion that "about a thousand years ago" Alaskan Inuit swept swiftly across the top of North America as far as Greenland, and in doing so, completely replaced the Dorset Culture.

Here, no doubt, I follow the minority view of Canadian historian Tryggi J. But in doing so, it is at least based on a relatively widespread acquaintance with the region in question, its climate, and further experiences that includes daily weather observations and seasonal ice-reports, especially in the Dease Strait section of the Northwest Passage itself. As for the feasibility of Viking transits, as it turns out especially after the relatively ice-free voyage through the Northwest Passage by the St.

Roche II in 2000 there is little that truly mitigates against it, while arguments can certainly be cited in support, even before the information-rich Pacific Northwest is reached. Pacific Northwest First Nations after Ashwell 1978 with additions and locations of special interest The premise itself is, of course, a difficult and complex one that embraces a wide number of disciplines.

Nevertheless, as will be shown in the following series of essays, there is literally no place on Earth that meets the many requirement of Norse "Vinland" as well as the final choice suggested here, namely the Cowichan Valley in the southeast corner of Vancouver Island, British Columbia, Canada.

The vikings in north america and oceangoing shipping essay

Lastly, although this is a stand-alone section that confines itself almost entirely to the period 800-1500 CE, it nevertheless remains a component of something far larger and more complex. This is partly why the suggestion that the Vikings voyaged through the Northwest Passage did not result from studying Viking Sagas, Ancient Maps or Runes, nor was it influenced by any previous research on the subject.

Rather, the occurrence of complex symbols on a global basis appeared to require a reevaluation of early maritime exploration in general and a rethinking about the process of diffusion in particular, especially in the context of the Americas.

The reevaluation itself did not commence with the Vikings either, nor initially was the Northwest Passage an early factor. In some respects this may be understandable, if only because of deeply entrenched negative viewpoints concerning Viking exploration in general. Even where it is granted that the Vikings reached the shores of North America it is usually a grudging and often largely minimized admission.

Yet from the accepted time of the establishment of the Greenland Colony to that of the last Greenland Viking almost five hundred years had elapsed. Moreover, the Viking Sagas reputedly took place during the very earliest part of this same timespan, and even confined to the first few decades it is difficult to ascertain how far the Vikings may or may not have traveled. Furthermore, expanding the interval of activity over centuries -- two or three at least -- hardly negates the possibilities, if anything it extends them dramatically.

Nor can the latter suggestion be immediately dismissed. It is generally accepted that the Sagas were written centuries after the "fact" and also, that contradictions and uncertainties exist concerning their contents. To which must also be added further complications that arise from the strong religious polarities already evident at the time of the Sagas themselves.

Viking is retained here for simplicity and general continuity, but either way there can be little doubt that there is a mystery concerning the sudden departure of the Vikings from the Western Greenland Settlement; indeed Helge Ingstad makes this point clear in a summary of later voyages to The vikings in north america and oceangoing shipping essay and beyond: The Annals of the learned Bishop Isle Odds-on for the year 1637, which are based on old sources, say about 1342: The Icelandic Annals for the year 1347 record the fate of the ship from Greenland that had been to Markland Labrador and was driven by storms to Iceland.

Around the year 1350 the deputy bishop of Greenland, Ivar Bfirdarson, ' journeyed to the Western Settlement in order to drive out the 'Skraelings'. When he arrived he found the entire settlement deserted of people, and only ownerless horses and cattle. There is no mention of any traces of a struggle with the Eskimoes, and it is also obvious that the latter in such a case would have slaughtered the the vikings in north america and oceangoing shipping essay and the livestock for the sake of the meat.

There seems little doubt that the people who lived in the Western Settlement had emigrated and had only left behind them the animals for which there was no room in the ships. But where did the people of the Western Settlement go? If their destination was Norway or Iceland, it is probable that their first stop would have been the Eastern Settlement. If so, the leader of the Church, Ivar Bfirdarson, and the rest of the people would have known about this exodus, and his own voyage northward to the Western Settlement would never have been undertaken.

The most likely explanation is that the people of the Western Settlement emigrated to North America. For the year 1355 there is recorded an expedition which was quite extraordinary in many ways and which was initiated by Magnus Eiriksson, king of Norway and Sweden.

He authorized Paul Knutsson of Onarheim to fit out an expedition to Greenland. This was only a few years after the ship mentioned above had come to Bergen from Markland 1347 and it is possible that it had a valuable cargo on board. But that is all the information we have about the Paul Knutsson expedition. We can only conjecture that its objectives may also have included a visit to the shores of North America.

In 1516 the Norwegian archbishop Erik Valkendorf planned an expedition to Greenland, and for that purpose he took steps to collect information about conditions in that far-away land. In his notes we are told that there were black bear and marten in that country. A similar and quite independent piece of information appears in a work by Absalon Pedersen Beyers in 1567.

He relates that in Greenland there were sable, marten, deer, and huge forests; but none of these are, in fact, found in Greenland, and the black bear is not even to be found in Norway. In the same vein, in spite of the odd runic discovery e. It is further suggested that the Vikings did not come to change, tithe and terrify, but brought with them something more fundamental in terms of an unswerving world view that was increasingly at odds with Christianity.

Thus if the Vikings did leave Greenland en masse it was at least in part because little choice remained if they were to maintain their fundamental freedoms and their own religious beliefs, as indeed outlined by Charles W.

Moore in The Mystery of the Mandans 1998: Eric Thorwaldsson, better known as "The Red," founded two separate colonies of expatriate Icelanders on Greenland's southwest coast in 986. The larger and more southerly, "Eastern," settlement eventually numbered some 3,000 souls c. Lief Ericsson's introduction of Christianity to Greenland in 999 resulted in 16 churches eventually being built throughout the two settlements. The cathedral at Gardar was said to have been a fine edifice; its surviving foundation shows that it was 84' long and 60' wide.

The bishop's residence, built after a resident bishop was appointed in 1112 "Bishop of Greenland and Vinland in partibus infidelum"was even larger than the cathedral. By 1340, nearly all of the Western Settlement's 190 farms had been expropriated by the Church in lieu of payments for indulgences, special masses for the departed, etc. The once free and independent Greenlanders were reduced to the status of serfs and tenant farmers on their own former holdings.

In 1342 the Western Settlement apparently decided en masse to clear out for parts unknown An ancient account says: