In Portmahomack , northern Scotland, recent excavations have shown a wealthy monastery in the area. There were found scriptures, copied on prepared animal skin parchment by monks. Trade was the source of the riches in this monastery; the sea brought wealth to these people, but the tides would turn and wealth would sink in the crushing waves, only to bring to the monks destruction and the end of days. That’s right, you guessed it – the Vikings were coming.
Archaeologists have revealed that Portmahomack was suddenly and utterly destroyed. They found smashed fragments of sculptures mingled with the ashes of torched buildings. It is quite possible (and thethe most likely explanation) that it was attacked and looted by Northmen. The attack on Portmahomack is the only Viking raid in Britain for which there are archaeological evidences. Others, such as the famous attack on Lindisfarne, is only the fruit of reports recorded in chronicles. Together, these two violent raids mark the start of an era of attacks from across the Northern Sea. The Norse came out of Sweden, Denmark and Norway, using sophisticated navigational skills and shipbuilding technology never seen before, making them the fastest and deadliest threats of that time.
Vikings were literaly everywhere in Europe. They invaded France and Normandy was given to them as in means to stop them from advancing further and causing more damage. They have been in parts of Italy and the Levant. They also founded Dublin, made deep inroads into England and island-hopped across the North Atlantic. Orkney, Shetland, Fair Isle and Iceland. They raided Spain and Portugal in the early nineth century (Northern Spain has a statue to celebrate the victory of the Spanish Kingdoms against the Vikings). They have created one of the very few Viking colonies in Portuguese territory – Povoa de Varzim – and they even crossed blades with the Muslims of the far south. They even crossed to Greenland, so why would they stop there?
The Vikings and their decendants wrote the famous sagas – the unique works of literature of the northmen, with a mixture of history and fiction and the beautiful touch of poetry. In some of these sagas, it is clearly stated that the explorer Leif Erikson led an expedition to the east coast of North America. It is described as having good harbours and an abundance of natural resources. But can we believe in such things? When history fails, it’s up to the detectives of history and science to investigate and bring the truth – Archaeologists.
In the year of 1960, a site on the very northernmost parts of Newfoundland in Canada – L’Anse aux Meadows – was investigated and archaeologists were convinced that it was a Viking settlement. It was an outstanding discovery. The fact that the Vikings had reached North America before any other Europeans was indeed a change in history. Until now, no other sites had been found.
The site was choosen to dig, after several studies of the area. A headland, almost at the very western tip of Newfoundland, 400 miles further south and west than the only known Viking site in North America – Point Rosee. The place overlooks two bays, offering protection for ships from any wind direction. A blackened rock was found, with marks that showed it went through intense temperatures. Possibly a place of man-made structure which used fire for some activity -possibly metalwork. Beneath there were piles of charcoal mixed with cooked bog iron – an iron deposit that needs to be baked to drive off impurities and allow the iron to be extracted for smelting. Surrounding the hearth appeared to be a turf wall of the kind built by Viking settlers across the North Atlantic.
No other groups of settlers roasted bog iron in Newfoundland. Nothing has been proven yet, but it looks like that archaeologists might have found evidence of Viking exploration in North America that goes much further than just that one site i’ve mentioned before, discovered in the 60s.
Though, the site may look like a small activity area, maybe connected to a large farm, but this is the beginning of a change in the history books about the Vikings. Only time will tell what things are hidden further down on the earth.