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Thread: Did the Vikings find america??

  1. #1
    malarkey's Avatar Suzuki
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    Default Did the Vikings find america??

    i was watching a program this morning about the vikings that said that leif erikkson set off from greenland and sailed west and colonise. If not on America right beside it. So could you argue that the vikings did find it.
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    bestantreas's Avatar Seigen
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    Yes, that's right. Vikings went to America hundreds of years before Colombus.
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    CaptainCernick's Avatar Trouvère
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    Yep, remains of Viking settlements were found on Newfoundland (or was it Baffinland?).
    It's not so surprising actually, since they were already in Greenland. It's only a relatively short hop from there.
    It is unknown why they left the settlements. Conflict with the natives? hunger? disease? homesickness?

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    malarkey's Avatar Suzuki
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    On the program this morning it said Newfoundland. Also that they only lasted a decade or so but didn'tgve any reason why they left.
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    Last Roman's Avatar ron :wub:in swanson
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    I main reason I've heard they left was the hostility of the natives (they called them skrealings or something like that).
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    eldaran's Avatar Speshul
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    Yep - the remains of a Viking settlement have been excavated at L'Anse aux Meadows on the northern tip of Newfoundland. Many historians believe this settlement to be the semi-legendary 'Vinland' referred to in the 'Descriptio insularum Aquilonis' written in the late 11th century, and in the two norse saga's 'The Saga of Eric the Red' and 'The Saga of the Greenlanders'.

    The story goes that Vinland was found first by a merchant blown off course on a voyage to the Norse colonies in Greenland, and that this merchant told his tale to Leif Ericsson, who later explored further and settled in Vinland. It it likely there were several attempts made by the Norse to settle in Vinland, though all were largely unsuccessful due to a combination of distance from the Norse homelands, lack of women ( ) and conflict with the native 'Skrælingar'.

    Whether the settlement at L'Anse aux Meadows is the Vinland referred to is open to debate, with a significant proportion of historians believing that it is possible 'Vinland' was in fact further south, possibly somewhere on the coast of the North American mainland.

    Generally though, it's thought that Norse settlement didn't go any further than Newfoundland although it's perfectly possible that some norse ships found their way further west or south to the mainland of what is now Canada.



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    BKB's Avatar Civitate
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    The Vikings did indeed discover parts of North America, caliing it Markland, Helluland (sp) and Vinland in roughly the Newfoundland and East Canadian coast and were indeed driven out by the screeching natives or Skrallings as they were known to the Norsemen. I'm working on a mod for this period if anyone is interested and you can find the thread and mod work here:

    http://forums.totalwar.org/vb/showthread.php?t=50767
    Last edited by BKB; December 23, 2005 at 08:17 AM.
    [In the women's room, which Larry had to use, he puts his water bottle in his pants instead of the trash to avoid being recognized]

    Producer's daughter: [enters] Hi mister. Thanks for fixing my doll.

    [hugs him]

    Larry: Aww, don't worry about it sweetheart.

    Producer's daughter: [looks at him, scared, and runs out] Mommy, mommy. The old man's in the bathroom, and he's got something hard in his pants.

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    BKB's Avatar Civitate
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    Also History and legend have it that MADOC, a son of King Owain of Gwynedd, is claimed not only to have discovered America in 1170, but also to have formed a tribe on the upper Missouri. This tribe fuelled tales of fair-haired Indians, living in round huts and using round coracle-like boats, both of which were common in Wales, but unheard of in America at the time. They were also said to speak a language similar to Welsh.

    Owain Gwynedd, ruler of North Wales in the
    twelfth century, had nineteen children, six of whom were legitimate. MADOC, one of the bastard sons, was born in a castle at Dolwyddelan, a village at the head of the Lledr valley between Betws-y-Coed and Blaenau Ffestiniog.


    On the death of Owain Gwynedd in December1169, the brothers fought amongst themselves for the right to rule Gwynedd. MADOC, although being brave and adventurous, was a man of peace. He and his brother, Riryd, left the quay on the Afon (River) Ganol at Aber-Kerrik-Gwynan, on the North Wales Coast (now Rhos-on-Sea) in two ships, the Gorn Gwynant and the Pedr Sant. They sailed west, leaving the coast of Ireland 'farre north' and landed in Mobile Bay, in what we now know as Alabama in the United States of America.


    They liked the country so much that one of the ships returned to Wales to collect more adventurers, and in 1170AD, ten small ships assembled off Lundy Island in the Bristol Channel, which flows between South Wales and Southern England.

    On arrival in America, they sailed from Mobile Bay up the great river systems, settling initially in the Georgia//Tennessee/Kentucky area where they built stone forts. They warred with the local Indian tribe, the Cheyenne. When they decided to return down river in some time after 1186, they built big boats but they were ambushed trying to negotiate the falls on the Ohio River (where Louisville, Kentucky now stands). A fierce battle took place lasting several days. A truce was eventually called and, after an exchange of prisoners, it was agreed that MADOC and his followers would depart the area never to return.

    They sailed down river to the Mississippi, which they sailed up until the junction with the Missouri, which they then followed upstream. They settled and integrated with a powerful tribe living on the banks of the Missouri called Mandans.


    In 1781-82, the white man's gift, smallpox, reduced the Mandans, a tribe of 40,000 people, down to 2,000 survivors. They partially recovered, increasing their numbers to some 12,000 by 1837, when a similar epidemic almost wiped the tribe out completely. It is recorded that there were only 39 survivors but the Mandan-Hidatsa claim it was about 200. These bewildered survivors of a once mighty tribe were taken in by the Hidatsa who had also been affected by the disease but to a much lesser extent. View from Dolwyddelan Castle of MADOC's probable birth place (center of picture) It is this background which over the centuries has fuelled tales of a tribe of fair-haired Indians, living in round huts and using round, coracle-like boats - both of which were common in Wales but unheard of in America at the time. The tribe were also said to speak in a language similar to Welsh.


    As we know many people including the Phonicians, St Brendan and the Vikings discovered North America before the Spanish in the 15th century. This story is fascinating and their is alot of evidence to back it up.



    In 1666 the Rev Morgan Jones, a Welsh missionary in North America, was captured by an Indian tribe with fair features and was about to be killed. But he prayed loudly to God in Welsh for deliverance, and was suddenly spared, treated as an honoured guest and found he was able to converse freely in Welsh with the natives.

    In 1739, a Frenchman, La Verendrye, encountered a tribe of Indians on the Upper Missouri 'Whose Fortifications are not characteristic of the Indians... Most of the women do not have Indian features... The tribe is mixed white and black. The women are fairly good looking, especially the light coloured ones; many have blonde or fair hair.' He called them Mantannes.

    There were many other visitors to the so-called Welsh tribe; one of interest was a Maurice Griffith who was taken prisoner by the Shawnee Indians in 1764. The Indians eventually befriended him and took him on a hunting expedition to seek the source of the Missouri. High in the mountains they came across 'three white men in Indian dress' with whom they travelled for several days until they arrived at a village where there were others of the same tribe, all having the same European complexion.

    A council of this white Indian tribe decided to put the strangers to death and Griffith decided it was time to speak. He addressed them in the Welsh language explaining that they had no hostile intentions but merely sought the source of the Missouri and that they would return to their own lands satisfied with their discoveries. The Chief of the Tribe greeted them in Welsh and they were thereafter treated as guests, staying with the nation some eight months. Griffiths eventually returned to Virginia but his story aroused little interest.


    In October 1792, a French fur trader, Jacques d’Eglise, who had set off up the Missouri in August 1790, arrived back in St Louis. He had travelled over 800 leagues from St Louis up the river and had found a mighty and wealthy tribe of Indians, the Mandans. There had been earlier rumours of this remarkable tribe, but no one had ever reached them from St Louis. He said that they were 5,000 strong, living in eight, great fortified villages; they had the finest furs; they lived in sight of a volcano and alongside the Missouri, which at that point flowed from the west or north-west and could take the largest boats. d’Eglise reported that their fortified villages were like cities compared with other native settlements, they were much more civilised than other Indians and the final marvel, these Mandans 'are white like Europeans'. Here at last was confirmation of all those stories of civilised white Indians, which had been filtering back along the Missouri for years.

    John Sevier, Governor of Tennessee, wrote to a Major Stoddard of the U.S. Army about a discussion he had had with the Major Chief of the Cherokee, Oconostota, in 1792. The venerable old chief informed him that, according to his forefathers, the white people who had formerly inhabited the country had made ancient fortifications on the Highwassee River now called Carolina. A battle took place between the Whites and the Cherokees at the Muscle Shoals on the Tennessee River. After a truce and exchange of prisoners, the Whites agreed to leave the area, never to return, eventually settling 'a great distance' up the Missouri.

    The Chief's ancestors claimed 'they were a people called Welsh and they had crossed the Great Water'. Governor Sevier also claimed to have been in the company of a Frenchman who informed him that he had been high up the Missouri and 'he had traded with the Welsh tribe; that they certainly spoke much of the Welsh dialect, and though their customs were savage and wild, yet many of them, particularly the females, were very fair and white.'

    Observer after observer commented on the ‘whiteness’ of these Indians. It was this above all, which made them into a people of Myth. Many of them were, without doubt, fair of skin and hair. Their hair was often brown, sometimes red; it turned grey. The men had beards. Their eyes were sometimes blue. The neighbouring tribes, the Hidatsa, the Crows and the Arikara showed similar characteristics, but far less frequently.

    History has presented some difficulties in verifying the legend. Although all important events in Welsh life were recorded in the monasteries and abbeys of Wales, most of the records would have been destroyed when Henry VIII dissolved the monasteries between 1537 and 1540 after falling out with the Church in Rome.

    The other issue affecting the lack of evidence is that the Mandan Indians, like most such tribes, only have a verbal tradition of their history and that different families are keepers of different parts of the story. With the two smallpox epidemics wiping out large sections of the community with such extreme rapidity, much of their history has been lost.

    With regard to the frequency of white physical characteristics, it must be remembered that the Welsh would have only numbered a few hundred amongst a tribe of tens of thousands. Supposedly about 300 men and women left Wales for the New World and if we assume that 200 survived the crossing and the various battles with the Indians, and they were absorbed into a tribe of some 40,000 Mandans, then the best guess is about 5% whites. Even if there were twice as many whites as previously suggested, then they would only number some 10% of the tribe. These would not have been spread evenly throughout the tribe but would have been concentrated in various families and villages.

    It seems unlikely that the Mandans were ever a tribe of white Indians, although they had a small percentage of members showing certain European characteristics. The reality of a tribe of white Indians as encountered by the Cherokees probably applied to a group of no more than a few hundred people and is unlikely to have lasted more than a few decades.

    Nevertheless, there does appear to be compelling evidence that a group of Welsh people went to America seeking peace, over three hundred years before Columbus, and they were eventually assimilated into a tribe of Indians on the Upper Missouri

    The Mandans, and some of their neighbours, certainly lived in round, earth lodges not dissimilar to those found in Wales. They also used boats similar to the Welsh coracle, a peculiar little craft propelled in an even more peculiar fashion.

    If we add to this the undoubted infusion of some Northern European blood resulting in some tribal members having fair skins, fair or red hair and blue, grey or green eyes, then the probability of there being an element of truth in the story must be enormous.

    There are also the stories of some Mandans being able to understand the Welsh language and the various tales of the great battles on the falls on the Ohio and Tennessee Rivers. There is the evidence of the stone hill forts in Georgia and Tennessee and the finds of coins, armour and helmets in the region as well as numerous skeletons of non-indigenous peoples.
    [In the women's room, which Larry had to use, he puts his water bottle in his pants instead of the trash to avoid being recognized]

    Producer's daughter: [enters] Hi mister. Thanks for fixing my doll.

    [hugs him]

    Larry: Aww, don't worry about it sweetheart.

    Producer's daughter: [looks at him, scared, and runs out] Mommy, mommy. The old man's in the bathroom, and he's got something hard in his pants.

    Curb Your Enthusiam

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    Count of Montesano's Avatar Civitate
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    Hey BKB - I'm from Louisville Ky and have also heard of the Welsh explorers. I didn't know there was much evidence of their passing besides oral traditions and "fair-skinned" local tribes. Your post was a great read and now I want to learn more.

    Jared Diamond's book Collapse has a really interesting section on the Norse colonization of Iceland, Greenland and the Canadian coast. There's a lot of archaeological evidence the Vikings arrived in North America but abandoned their settlements. Excavations show that the Norse were likely not wiped out (lots of unburied skeletons, burned structures, etc) but abandoned their settlements most likely because of constant threat by the native tribes. The Norse took almost everything of value with them when they abandoned L'Anse aux Meadows - even iron nails!

    Diamond goes on to explain why the Norse didn't stay. He writes that Iceland and Greenland were the Viking frontier and Vinland was the frontier of the frontier. Without the manpower to seriously challenge the Canadian tribes, the Vikings had no chance to establish a lasting presence in North America.

    I should also add Basque whalers came after the Vikings and fished along North America's coast before Columbus but never created lasting colonies.

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    BKB's Avatar Civitate
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    I should also add Basque whalers came after the Vikings and fished along North America's coast before Columbus but never created lasting colonies.
    That is very interesting mate, could you provide any links as i would love to read about that.

    You hear many stories about the voyages to pre-16th european arrival in America, i'll provide an interesting link on St Brendan later which is a very good read.
    [In the women's room, which Larry had to use, he puts his water bottle in his pants instead of the trash to avoid being recognized]

    Producer's daughter: [enters] Hi mister. Thanks for fixing my doll.

    [hugs him]

    Larry: Aww, don't worry about it sweetheart.

    Producer's daughter: [looks at him, scared, and runs out] Mommy, mommy. The old man's in the bathroom, and he's got something hard in his pants.

    Curb Your Enthusiam

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    CommanderSela's Avatar Vexillifer
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    Many historians believe that the vikings left Newfoundland because of the Beotuk the local native. However there are other historian who believe they left because of a small climate change starting in the 12 century to the 15 century. Personnaly as an historian i prefer the beotuck theory. But we cannot judge those people since they were wipe out by the english settlers in the 19 century. I'm not sure but the last beotuk was a woman and died in the early 20 century.
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    CommanderSela's Avatar Vexillifer
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    Quote Originally Posted by BKB
    That is very interesting mate, could you provide any links as i would love to read about that.

    You hear many stories about the voyages to pre-16th european arrival in America, i'll provide an interesting link on St Brendan later which is a very good read.
    A link??? Internet is not the best source for historic information. I recommand buying or renting a book on the subject.
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    Pietsch
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    All I've read is that the Viking really had reached America, and few had established ashore, but their warlike nature brought them soon to war with some Skraelings (Native Americans, the word Skraeling meaning 'ugly people') and their numbers were way too few.

    It's interesting to enrich the information though, if anyone knows details please bring it on. Although it's a bit hard to really know what happened in such a troubled time.

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    Centurio
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    There are some theories that the Phoenocians and Carthaginians might have gone to the America's. But since the Romans utterly destroyed the city of Carthage no one will ever know for sure.

    There is an account by a Roman Historian(name just escaped my mind) that Hanno theNavigator Discovered a Really Big Island West of South Africa
    When salied of course becouse of a storm but I dobt it was the Canary Islands. Maybe He Might have discovered Bermuda or the Falkland Islands, we'll never know for sure.

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    Bwaho's Avatar Puppeteer
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    As we know many people including the Phonicians, St Brendan and the Vikings discovered North America before the Spanish in the 15th century
    Oh? I don't think the phoenician part has been confirmed since there simply isn't enough evidence to back it up. With vikings there was maps (I think) and some archaeological evidence.

    As for the rest I'm not sure. It sounds a bit wild, vikings fighting indian tribes in kentucky.
    Even if a few viking ships went further west and landed on the east coast of america they couldn't have been many in numbers...especially not when compared to the number of indians that lived there. If I'm not mistaking the indians had huuuge populations in north america.

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    BKB's Avatar Civitate
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    f I'm not mistaking the indians had huuuge populations in north america.
    Well isn't that obvious mate? Even if the Vikings or Welsh landed in small number there is no reason why some might not have intergrated with the population. After all this wasn't like the times of Cortez and Pizzaro, these men might have seen these new lands and wanted to settle, not attack the indians and exterminate them. There is much evidence that is what they did. I mean why not? There is no reason why people other than the Norsemen explored North America before the Spanish of the 16th century. There were even tales of Knights Templar exploring parts of Mexico and trading with the tribes sometime in the 13th century.
    [In the women's room, which Larry had to use, he puts his water bottle in his pants instead of the trash to avoid being recognized]

    Producer's daughter: [enters] Hi mister. Thanks for fixing my doll.

    [hugs him]

    Larry: Aww, don't worry about it sweetheart.

    Producer's daughter: [looks at him, scared, and runs out] Mommy, mommy. The old man's in the bathroom, and he's got something hard in his pants.

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    Bwaho's Avatar Puppeteer
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    There is much evidence that is what they did. I mean why not?
    Yeah I guess it's not that far fetched. Just look at the celts, they went to Turkey and even to Egypt.

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    People, don't you see that there's a cardinal, an impossibly great difference between other people "discovering" America, and Columbus discovering America? China, Vikings, etc, their sailing led to nothing, and was ultimately completely meaningless. Columbus' sailing led to everything for the West and thus for the whole world, and thus his discovery is the only one that carries the true meaning of the --discovery-- of the New World.


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    John I Tzimisces's Avatar Get born again.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bwaho
    Oh? I don't think the phoenician part has been confirmed since there simply isn't enough evidence to back it up. With vikings there was maps (I think) and some archaeological evidence.
    South America, not north. Its more likely anyhow since it IS rather close to the western tip of africa.

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    MaximiIian's Avatar Tribunus Augusticlavii
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    Quote Originally Posted by malarkey
    i was watching a program this morning about the vikings that said that leif erikkson set off from greenland and sailed west and colonise. If not on America right beside it. So could you argue that the vikings did find it.
    You mean you never learned this in school?
    ...

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