Since the time of the Vikings, Scandinavians have been explorers. Being a hardy northern people makes them ideal for exploration in the harsh climate of the North Atlantic and the polar regions. Modern Scandinavians have, however, been famous for explorations all over the world. Without comparison, I am at present on a mission exploring Korea and the Philippines. If you like to travel, follow our new series Scandinavian Explorers.
Daily Scandinavian will be exploring uncommon and exciting international destinations which we believe will be of interest to our readers. Our reviews of new exciting destinations will be published on a monthly basis.
In the series Scandinavian Explorers, we ill make a mix of world-famous Scandinavian explorers and our own explorations of uncommon, thrilling destinations around the world.
Today, we go back to the 10th century Norway, the Viking Age, and tell the story of Erik Thorvaldsson, nicknamed Erik the Red because of his red hair.
Some will claim that Erik the Red was not an explorer since he was exploring out of pure necessity. He was in fact expelled from Norway to Iceland and exiled for ‘some killings’. He didn’t stop killing though. He soon was banished from one Icelandic town for killing a man who killed some of his slaves and was later expelled from Iceland.
Then he got the idea that sailing westwards to an island he had heard about would be a good idea to keep him out of trouble. He reached the island (c. 985) and found a suitable site for settlement and called it Greenland, just to make it sound like an attractive destination for others to join. This was the first European settlement on Greenland.
You can read more about the Greenland history here.
From his settlement on an island at the mouth of Eriksfjord (now known as Tunullarfik Fjord) he explored the west and north for two years.
In 985 or 986, Erik returned Iceland. His descriptions of the new territory persuaded many people to follow him to found a new colony in Greenland.
Only 14 ships out of 25 are believed to have landed safely at an area later known as Eystribygd (“Eastern settlement”). The settlement never grew to more than 3,000 inhabitants.
The colony maintained contact with Europe until the mid15th century, by which time it had gradually died out.
Erik the Red was the father of another great Viking explorer, Leif Erikson, who we will present in a future article.
Scandinavian Explorers, written by Tor Kjolberg