Scandinavian Explorers – Leif Erikson

Scandinavian Explorers - Leif Erikson

Last month, we started our series Scandinavian Explorers. First out was the story of Erik the Red. Today, we bring you the story of one of his sons, Leif Erikson.

The Vikings are known for using advanced navigational techniques whilst at sea, including sun compass. However, they were very much at the mercy of winds.

Scandinavian Explorers - Leif Erikson
Reconstructions of possible sailing routes.

The Icelandic Norseman Leif Erikson, or Leif the Lucky, the second of the three sons of Erik the Red, found himself blown off course on his way from Iceland to Greenland. In the process he ended up becoming the first known European to spot North America in 986 AD, approximately half a millennium before Christopher Columbus.

I recommend you to read the exciting story of his father Erik the Red by clicking the image below.

Scandinavian Explorers - Leif Erikson
Erik the Red

Historians believe that Leif landed on Baffin Island and Labrador before finally making camp on Newfoundland. The Vikings called the new region Vinland (Land of Wines), due to the wild grapes that apparently grew there.

Interested in the Viking Age? Then you might be interested in reading about health and medicine in the Viking Age by clicking the image below.

Scandinavian Explorers - Leif Erikson
Photo by Steinar Engeland/Unsplash

According to the sagas of Icelanders, Leif established a Norse settlement at Vinland, which is usually interpreted as being coastal North America. There is ongoing speculation that the settlement made by Leif and his crew corresponds to the remains of a Norse settlement found in Newfoundland, Canada, called L’Anse aux Meadows, which was occupied approximately 1,000 years ago.

After wintering in Vinland exploring the surrounding area, Leif returned to Greenland to tell of his amazing discovery. Leif has been described in the Norse sagas as a wise, considerate, and strong man of striking appearance.

Read also about Scandinavia before the Vikings by clicking the image below.

Scandinavian Explorers - Leif Erikson
Scandinavia before the Vikings

Research done in the early 1960s by Norwegian explorer Helge Ingstad and his wife, archaeologist Anne Stine Ingstad, identified a Norse site located at the northern tip of Newfoundland.

When he was of a proper age, Leif sailed from Greenland to Norway, likely to serve as a retainer to its king, Olaf Tryggvason, who converted him to Christianity and commissioned him to urge that religion upon the Greenland settlers.

Scandinavian Explorers – Leif Erikson, written by Tor Kjolberg

Feature image (on top): Leif Erikson – painting by Christian Krogh

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Journalist, PR and marketing consultant Tor Kjolberg has several degrees in marketing management. He started out as a marketing manager in Scandinavian companies and his last engagement before going solo was as director in one of Norway’s largest corporations. Tor realized early on that writing engaging stories was more efficient and far cheaper than paying for ads. He wrote hundreds of articles on products and services offered by the companies he worked for. Thus, he was attuned to the fact that storytelling was his passion.