The ancient chronicles told of a larger-than-life Viking warrior with a shock of red hair, banished from his home for killing another man, who sailed with hundreds of followers to an icy island in the sea. And they told of his son, who set out only a few years later to an even more distant place he knew as “Vinland,” but which today’s historians believe were the eastern coasts of modern day Canada and the United States.
The Icelandic Sagas are thrilling narratives, full of swashbuckling exploration, epic feuds, dazzling romances and poignant betrayals. Still, they are only stories, told hundreds of years after the fact by poets with a penchant for embellishment. To date, the sagas have only led archaeologists to one actual, verified Norse historical site in the New World — the 1000-year-old seaside settlement L’Anse aux Meadows on the northernmost tip of Newfoundland.