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Vinland

Vinland or Wineland, section of North America discovered by Leif Ericsson in the 11th cent. The sources for the knowledge of Leif Ericsson's exploration differ as to whether it was planned or accidental, but it is definitely known that he found a land containing grapes and self-sown wheat, which he called Vinland. Later expeditions, particularly that of Thorfinn Karlsefni, attempted to rediscover that land. There has been much speculation as to the identification of Vinland. Places from Newfoundland to Virginia have been suggested. Efforts such as those by Eben N. Horsford, who in the late 19th cent. definitely located Vinland on the banks of the Charles River at Gerry's Landing, Cambridge, Mass., have usually met with little agreement. Inscriptions and relics have been sought to throw light on the subject. The discovery of the Kensington Rune Stone has been connected by Hjalmar R. Holand with the expedition of Paul Knutson to America. Holand has further claimed that the Newport Tower (or Old Stone Mill), in Touro Park, Newport, R.I., was the headquarters of Knutson's expedition, but some scholars maintain that the tower was built in colonial times. In 1960, Helge Ingstad, interpreting the word Vinland as "grass land" rather than "wine land," discovered remains of a Norse settlement dating from 1000A.D. at L'Anse aux Meadows, Newfoundland. In the mid-1960s much discussion revolved around the so-called Vinland Map, a world map showing Vinland and said to date from 1440. Despite exhaustive subsequent analysis of the map, its ink, and the vellum on which it was drawn, its authenticity continues to be debated.

Bibliography

See W. Hovgaard, The Voyages of the Norsemen to America (1914, repr. 1971); H. Hermannsson, The Problem of Wineland (1936, repr. 1966); F. J. Pohl, The Lost Discovery (1952); H. R. Holand, Explorations in America before Columbus (2d ed. 1958); H. M. Ingstad, Westward to Vinland (1969); W. E. Washburn, ed., Vinland Map Conference: Proceedings (1971); R. A. Skelton et al., The Vinland Map and the Tartar Relation (exp. ed. 1996); W. W. Fitzhugh and E. I. Ward, ed., Vikings: The North Atlantic Saga (2000).

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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