What a solar storm in 1021 has to do with America's discovery by the Vikings

After days on the high seas, the explorers hit land. It’s rocky and icy, no place to live. Leif Erikson and his men continue south. Passing what is now the Canadian province of Labrador, they baptize “Markland” – woodland. At last you can see lush meadows. Leif calls the area “Vinland”, meaning pastureland.

Globetrotters set up their homes, build 15-meter-long, windowless huts and cover them with thick pieces of grass – as protection against the cold. They stay. How long? Nobody knows for sure. Nor was it known exactly when the Vikings discovered America. Until now!

Because now a research team has been able to determine that Vikings lived in North America exactly a thousand years ago – in the year 1021. Wooden remains revealed it to geochronologists Michael Dee and Margot Kuitems from the University of Groningen. The analysis was now in the journal Nature presents.


Newfoundland 1960: For ages the Norwegian couple Helge and Anne Stine Ingstad had a thought – where were Helluland, Markland and Vinland, those mythical places mentioned in the Viking sagas? There you will find reports about the vikings’ voyages of discovery to America. For years the Ingstads searched the east coast of America, comparing the landscape with the descriptions in the sagas. Until a fisherman from Newfoundland told them about overgrown wall remnants near his village L’Anse aux Meadows. Nine years and almost ten excavated buildings later it was clear: the remains come from Scandinavians of the Viking Age. Almost 500 years before Columbus, daring Greenlanders actually set out to look for new settlement areas in the west of the Atlantic.

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