Warmer Today or in Viking’s Time?



f Grass and Grapes
In Greenlanders’ Saga Leif Eriksson is said to have named ‘Vinland’ for the rich southern land because of grapes he found growing there. This makes it unlikely that L’Anse aux Meadows could have been the Vinland of the sagas, because grapes have never grown in Newfoundland. Their current northern range is northern Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, and southern Quebec. Even in the warmer climate of one thousand years ago they never grew in Newfoundland or eastern Quebec. However, grapes do grow in the same sort of climate as butternut trees, and one of the most surprising discoveries at L’Anse aux Meadows were butternuts and pieces of carved butternut wood. Ocean currents could not have carried butternuts or driftwood from these areas to northern Newfoundland, and the nuts are too large to have been carried by birds. They must have been brought back to L’Anse aux Meadows by Vikings explorers, and those same explorers would have also encountered wild grapes.


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