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L'Anse aux Meadows

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L'Anse aux Meadows, NL
L'Anse aux Meadows, NL

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L'Anse aux Meadows, NL is both a small fishing community and one of the most significant archaeological sites in North America. It's the top attraction that draws visitors to the Northern Peninsula. Take the Viking Trail, (Highway 430) to Highway 436 and turn left (north). You drive through the communities of Saint Lunaire and Griquet. L'Anse aux Meadows lies on the very northern tip of the island.

In 1960 George Decker, from the village of L'Anse aux Meadows, led a Norwegian, Helge Ingstad to a group of mounds near the village that the locals believed was a former Indian settlement. The area of grass mounds was excavated between 1961 and 1968 by Ingstad and Anne Stine Ingstad. They determined that the site was a Norse Viking Settlelment dating to 1000 AD. It remains as the only proven Viking settlement in North America, pre-dating Columbus by some 500 years.

L'Anse aux Meadows, NL, Vikings
L'Anse aux Meadows, NL, Viking Dwellings

You arrive at a visitor's centre. You'll want to hook up with one of the walking tours. They show you examples of the grassy mounds that tipped off the Norwegian researchers. They also explain why the Vikings selected this site. It's a very forlorn location, but 1,000 years ago it was much different. Sea levels were higher and the area was forested at the time. They show you where the beach was, explaining the locations of the buildings.

The Viking actors are native Newfoundlander's from nearby communities. They are very knowledgeable of the displays, giving you a good idea of what life was like at the settlement.

Iceberg, near Saint Lunaire, Griquet, NL
Firewood & Sleigh, near Raleigh, NL

If you visit in June or early July, you'll almost certainly see icebergs. The one pictured above was right next to Highway 436 (the road into L'Anse aux Meadows). You'll also see wood lots along the side of the road. Locals cut firewood in the winter and bring it out to roadside lots. Firewood and sleighs are just left beside the road, the locals know who it belongs to.