The Vikings appear to have had two long-lasting communities in Greenland, and a site has been found at L'Anse aux Meadows in Newfoundland Canada.

But is there any solid evidence that the Vikings had a more extensive presence in pre-Columbian North America?


5 Answers 5


If there was an extensive Viking presence in North America, it has not been documented. And the doings of the "western" (Norwegian) Vikings are fairly well documented. What would be accurate illustrations of vikings and viking culture?

One of the issues is that the Vikings didn't "know" that they had "discovered" (or were close to discovering), a new continent. To them, Newfoundland (an island) was just another Greenland or Iceland, somewhere in the Atlantic Ocean, with no particular relevance to anything else.

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    They probably had no concept of continent in the first place, and no concept of exploration. It was just another place to put a farm. Jan 15, 2012 at 17:46
  • I added "an extensive", as there is documented presence, but a farm that might have been in existence only for a year (or even less) isn't exactly extensive, and that's what as asked for. Oct 11, 2013 at 7:35
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    "with no particular relevance to anything else" - I think Newfies still get a lot of that. Jun 4, 2015 at 21:50

There is some various "evidence", but all of it is of such low quality or shaky provenence that they are generally considered fakes. For example, we have the Heavener Runestone, in Oklahoma. The writing scheme employed, Elder Futhark runes, were used far before the other Viking excursions into North America, and two of the runes are incorrect. There are a few other proported Viking artifacts in Oklahoma, but all are generally accounted as either similar low-quality modern fakes, or more likely Native American in origin.

There is also the Kensington Runestone, from Minnesota. It also seems to be a forgery, although a slightly better done one.

Then there are the Beardmore Relics. These appear to be genuine iron Viking-age artifacts, supposedly found in Ontario. Their authenticity is not in a lot of doubt, but most scholars believe they were probably planted in Ontario. The son of the "finder" signed a sworn affadavit that they were in fact planted there by his father.

So there are hints of Viking activity around Oklahoma and the western Great Lakes area, but most likely that has more to do with modern scandanavians settling in those areas than any actual Viking activity there. There's no real accepted evidence of a Viking presence in North America outside of Greenland and Newfoundland.

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    The Kensington Runestone is definitely not much better done. Just as the Heavener Runestone uses runes that are several hundred years too early, the Kensington uses runes that are several hundred years too late. In addition the language is not the 14th century Swedish it should be from the stones own date claim, it's 19th century Swedish. It's a very bad and pretty obvious fake. And even if it wasn't an obvious fake, it's dated to 300 years after the end of the viking age, so not vikings. ;-) Oct 11, 2013 at 17:17
  • I comment on the Kenstington stone here: regebro.wordpress.com/2009/01/02/the-kensington-runestone Oct 11, 2013 at 17:23
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    @LennartRegebro - Well, I made that claim based on the fact that the Kensington forgers were at least competent enough not to make up their own runes on the spot. :-) I'll soften the statement at bit.
    – T.E.D.
    Oct 11, 2013 at 19:34

No. L'Anse aux Meadows is all that was found on the American continent.

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    Except, ..., just maybe, ..., in a couple of years we will add Point Rosee to that list of VIking settlements. May 22, 2016 at 4:01
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    I guess I'll be the spoilsport who points out that Newfoundland is actually an island. It is admittedly only 9 miles away from the continent, but it is not on it.
    – T.E.D.
    May 30, 2018 at 13:59

There is less spectacular evidence of Viking activity in the north which includes bits of iron, both meteoritic iron from Greenland and smelted iron from Iceland and Norway, bits of smelted copper and a few bits of sawn oak which were found in old aboriginal sites in the north including metal into the central high arctic. What is not known is exactly how this material was distributed which could range from extensive Viking travel into northern Canada to aboriginals robbing out of abandoned Viking sites i.e. evidence of contact but not explanatory of the exact nature of contact. Typical Aboriginal use of European metal goods was reuse to suit Aboriginal lifestyle; for example, breaking down copper pots to make arrow points for bird hunting, beads, nose rings, etc; consequently, complete artifacts may have not long remained in obvious Viking form. It was certainly the case that Aboriginals had no use for iron boat nails to build watercraft but found many other uses for them.

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    Can you provide sources and references?
    – Marakai
    May 22, 2016 at 4:08

Well, there's the Maine Penny. It may have been traded from more northern tribes down the coast, or from Greenlanders who traveled much farther south than we knew.

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