My visit L'Anse aux Meadows
By Peter Sjolander, 1995 Fullerton, California.
In the summer of 1995 I visited this Viking site. What surprised me about the site was the layout. It was very carefully sited. The site was below the water level of two wonderful ponds. One of the ponds looked like men had helped to dam it up. This pond was a favorite fishing hole and had been for a long time. My impression was that the Vikings stocked this pond during the summer so that they would have easy fishing in the winter. The other pond looked like it would be a natural source of clean drinking water for the site. Since both ponds were above the level of the site the Vikings could easily have had running water into their buildings.
A small stream ran from the ponds through the site. By the lay of the land it looked like the stream could be dammed up just seaward of the site to cause a small wet dock to form in the center of the site. It looked like a fine place to work on boats. With both wet and dry capabilities. By the location of this site I would say that the main output of the site was small boats that could be portaged around Niagara falls and then into the great lakes. My guess is that this site was in use for 200 years. Its location is that perfect.
The other thing that struck me about the site was the position of the bog oar furnace. When I stood in the furnace and looked out from where the door was placed, I was looking right at the most eastern point of Labrador. That means that the light from the door of the furnace was the first thing a Viking would see when coming south along the coast of Labrador from Greenland. The placement of the site was very well planned.
There were some conclusions drawn that I did not agree with. The archaeologists found only a small amount of slag with a very high iron content. From this the archaeologists concluded that only a small amount of poor quality iron was fired here. When I looked all around the site for miles around, the whole place had the look and feel of an old strip mine. My conclusion is that the high iron content slag was just the first step. This slag was then taken to a different site for another step in the process. With this in mind I looked for other sites.
Along one of the rivers on the eastern shore of the bay of Fundy is a surface coal deposit. The French worked it out in the 1700s. I suspect that the Vikings used this surface coal to do the second step in the iron making process.
The whole bay of Fundy is a Viking kind of heaven. There are waterfalls that run both ways with giant fresh water lakes behind them. Rivers that run both ways so you never need to row home. Rich farm land that does not need to be cleared because the floods keep it cleared.
In closing I found one other site of interest. On an island just off the Maine coast I saw a sign for magnetic sand. Well the sign was a lie but there was a lot of high iron sand there anyway. And 300 yards down the beach I found a bolder with a Viking mooring hole in it. Now this was no place to land a boat the beach was covered with these boulders. No one would ever land a boat here and the bolder was too small. Thus I said the stone is a marker. But a marker of what? The shore cliff just above the stone had two points jutting out and an old dead tree right in the center of the two points. When I climbed around on top of the cliff it was full of rocks covered with undergrowth with a little water running out. The old dead tree was a cedar about a 1000 years old. It felt like a perfect place to bury a Viking. With his ship or without I don't know.

Last changed 6:29PM 1/21/96