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Viking Are Saling Again to rediscover the New World




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By Allan A. Swenson

Vikings will sail again this summer to re-discover The New World. A fleet of replica Viking ships from Sweden, Norway and Iceland will converge on L'Anse aux Meadows National Historic Site in Newfoundland in July to celebrate the original discovery of The New World by Leif Ericson, 1000 years ago, and the first settlement there.
Artifacts of the original Viking settlement have been dug up and carbon-dated to set historic records right. In honor of that epic event, a Grand Encampment of Vikings will be held at L'Anse aux Meadows, considered so important it was named a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1977.
The Viking fleet will be led by the Islendingur, a carefully-crafted replica Viking ship from Iceland, which will sail from Reykjavik, Iceland to Greenland in early July. Islendingur will leave from Brattahlid, the restored farm of Eric the Red, Greenland's founder and Leif Ericson's father, which is the site of Leif Ericson's departure, according to ancient Viking sagas.
Manned by a crew of hardy Icelanders who still speak the language of the Vikings, the ship will continue a 2,600 mile odyssey tracing the epic voyage of Leif Ericson. The designer and captain, Gunnar Marel Eggertsson, born in 1954, is a direct descendant of Leif Ericson, who was born in 930 AD.
The Islendingur will rendezvous with other Viking ships on the coast of Labrador. On July 28, the fleet led by Islendingur will arrive at Norstead, a newly-created village, adjacent to L'Anse aux Meadows. In this village, designed to reflect the Viking Age, visitors can step back in time with the help of local and international Viking re-enactors to explore themes such as Viking food, culture and daily living experiences.
More than 100 historical interpreters and re-enactors, trained to portray life as it was 1000 years ago, will demonstrate boat building, weapon making, one-needle knitting, wool spinning, weaving, gardening, iron-working and other ancient Viking crafts. Weddings and tests of battle skills as well as Viking feasts and ceremonies will be conducted. Details about Norstead is available from Coordinator Cathy Cabot-Letto at the Viking Trail Tourism Association, Box 251, Room 107, St. Anthony, Newfoundland, A0K 4T0 or by email at ccabot-letto@vtta.nf.ca.
After several Days of celebrations at Norstead, the Viking ships will sail and row along the coast of Newfoundland, stopping at various ports, to celebrate Leif Ericson's original voyage, 492 years before Columbus. Special festivities and celebrations are planned all along Newfoundland's historic Viking Trail from St. Anthony to Corner Brook.
Amazing as the original discovery and settlement may seem, the facts have been documented by archeological digs, in written Icelandic Sagas newly translated into English, a Viking map dated 1440 AD, now at Yale University, and other evidence that verifies the truth. Vikings were indeed the first Europeans to discover and settle North America.
An 80-foot long Viking ship, the Skidbladner, will sail from Stockholm, Sweden to take part in ceremonies in the ancient Viking trading town of Kaupang, Norway in May during celebrations of Norwegian Independence Day.
From Norway, the imposing Skidbladner will follow ancient Viking exploration and trading routes with stops in the Faeroes, the Shetland Islands, Iceland and Greenland before crossing the Atlantic Ocean to Labrador and Newfoundland.
Viking Longboats scheduled to take part in Sail 2000 include: Aifur, Stockholm; Fyrdraca, Baltimore, MD, USA; Glad av Gilberga, Nysater, Swede; Islendingur, Reykjavik, Iceland; Jomsborg, Wolin, Poland; Krampmacken, Gotland, Sweden; Mjosen Lange, Lillehammer, Norway; Norseman, Philadelphia, PA, USA; Orm, Lange Weide, Holland; Skidbladner, Stockholm, Sweden; Snorri, Newfoundland, Canada; Thor Viking, Arvika, Sweden; Viking Saga, St. Lunaire, Newfoundland and Viksboat Telja, Norrtelje, Sweden.
Several Viking ships then will sail down the Eastern Coast of the United States on a special voyage appropriately called, "In Search of Vinland", the name Leif Ericson had given to the New World he found. Two are of special note. The Viking Plym is the oldest Viking ship in the world and will participate in New York and Philadelphia Viking events. The Skidbladner is the largest replica Viking ship and will be part of the Canadian and U. S. sailing activities.
Additional sponsors are being sought to enable more replica ships to join the commemorative flotilla in the United States, according to Dennis Johnson, coordinator in the U.S. of the historic millennium Viking Sail 2000 event. Details are available from him at Viking Sail 2000, 15 West Highland Avenue, Philadelphia, PA, 19118, by FAX at 215-242-3119 or email at jnsnsmth@worldnet.att.net.
Other useful websites to explore Viking history with links to sources worldwide include: www.parkscanada.pch.gc.ca/parks/newfoundland/anse_meadows; and www.vikingtrail.org.
Year 2000 festivities at L'Anse aux Meadows include the Grand Encampment with 100 re-enactors in traditional Viking garb presenting special themes about crafts, food and trades and a Viking Cantata recounting the story of the Viking conversion to Christianity 1000 years ago. A one woman play, the Saga of Gudridur, tells the story of the remarkable Gudridur Thorbjarnadottier, the first European women to travel to North America, who gave birth to the first European child there, Snorri Thorfinnsson. Details about Viking events in Newfoundland are available from Fred Russell, Chief Executive Officer of the Viking Trail Tourism Association, P.O. Box 430, St. Anthony, Newfoundland, A0K 4S0.
An International Viking Millennium Symposium also will be held at St. John's, L'Anse aux Meadows, the Labrador Straits and in Corner Brook, Newfoundland, from Sept. 16-24.
This once-in-a-millennium event will include leading International scholars and experts discussing Viking culture, explorations, settlements, sagas and recent archeological discoveries elsewhere in the world. It will be complemented by special entertainment and events highlighting the rich culture and traditions of Newfoundland and Labrador. Details are available from the Coordinator, Jennifer Deon at that website: www.vikingsymposium.nf.ca.

Editors Note: Dramatic color photos of Islendingur, Norseman, Snorri and Thor Viking are available, along with a wide variety of photos of L'Anse aux Meadows Viking Sail 2000 List and Data



Boat Name - Port/Country Length & Width Draft Engine/Speed Crew

Aifur Stockholm, Sweden

9 metres 2.2 m.

35cm Outboard 8 knots

12

Fyrdraca Baltimore, MD, USA

9.7 metres 2.6 m.

1 m. None 3 knots

18

Glad av Gilberga Nysater, Sweden

17.5 metres 2.7 m.

n/a 9 hp 9 knots

15

Islendingur Reykjavik, Iceland

23 metres n/a

n/a n/a n/a

9

Jomsborg Wolin, Poland

15.5 metres 5 m.

.8 m. 60 hp Out. 7 knots

15

Krampmacken Gotland, Sweden

8 metres 2 m.

70cm None 5 knots

15

Mjosen Lange Lillehammer, Norway

10.5 metres 2.5 m.

.6 m. 10 hp . 5 knots

14

Norseman Philadelphia, PA, USA

12.2 metres 2.7 m.

61cm 20 hp Dsl 5 knots

12

Orm Lange Weide, Holland

10 metres 2.5 m.

40cm 7 hp Out. 9 knots

12

Skidbladner Stockholm, Sweden

24 metres 5.3 m.

n/a 60 hp Volvo 6 knots

20

Snorri Newfoundland, Canada

16.5 metres 5 m.

n/a None n/a

10

Thor Viking Arvika, Sweden

7 metres 2.3 m.

40 cm 2 hp 5 knots

8

Viking Saga St. Lunaire, Newfoundland

13.5 metres 4.4 m.

1 m. 2x80 hp 9 knots

12

Viksboat Telja Norrtelje,Sweden

9.8 metres 2.2 m.

n/a Outbd. n/a

10

 

Note To Editors and Readers A veteran member of the Overseas Press Club, Allan A. Swenson is the author of 50 published books and a former nationally-syndicated newspaper columnist. He is now semi-retired and writing his own children's and adult books about Vikings. Swenson also writes articles for Norway Times, Den Danske Pioneer, The SUN-Scandinavia USA News, Swedish Press, Logberg-the Icelandic Newsweekly, Raivaaja, and other Norse media as well as national magazines in the United States. He welcomes information and photos about Vikings and can be reached at aswenson@gwi.net. His Wordperfect and Word systems accept jpg photos by email, which he shares with others interested in Viking history.

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