Bookmark and Share

The Viking Trail, Newfoundland and Labrador

L'Anse aux Meadows National Historic Site

Five hundred years before Christopher Columbus was credited with discovering the New World, a group of Vikings had already settled at L'Anse aux Meadows, near the tip of the Northern Peninsula.

Evidence from the sagas, the written record of the Vikings' journey to the New World, indicates that the settlers who came included women and that livestock were brought to the site. From a small encampment at L'Anse aux Meadows, they probably set sail for lands as far south as New Brunswick and into the St. Lawrence River. Its sod buildings are the earliest known European structures on the continent; its smithy, the site of the first known iron working in the New World; the site itself was the scene of the first contacts between native Americans and Europeans.

The name "L'Anse aux Meadows" originates from the French migratory fishermen in the area during the 1800s and 1900s who named the site "L'Anse aux Meduses," which translates to "Jellyfish Bay." L'Anse aux Meadows is the result of English corruption of the French name based on local topography. The physical landscape in the area tends to be open, with meadows, hence the change in pronunciation and meaning.

The story of the Vikings' stay at L'Anse aux Meadows is told at the Visitor Centre. There are artifacts on display, along with a model of the site which illustrates how it may have looked at the time of the Norse. The remains of the Norse buildings, restored as they were when discovered by Helge and Anne Stine Ingstad, and three full-scale replicas of these sod huts are just a short walk from the Visitor Centre.