Did Vikings or Norse explore North America beyond Newfoundland?

There appear to be no real settlements other than L’anse aux Meadows, but settlement is a different thing than exploration.

There’s plenty of spurious evidence. There’s the Kensington Rune Stone, for one, and I believe another like it. (Both of them pretty dubious)
There’s the Newport Tower in Newport Rhode Island, and a nearby Skeleton Buried in Armor. Longfellow even wrote a poem about them. But gthe Newport Tower (which has been attributed to an Icelandic Bishop, as well as to Vikings), has been excavated by archaeologists. Despite the arguments of Ralph Ainsworth Means, it does indeed appear to have been a windmill built by the first Benedict Arnold (Governore of RI and ancestpor of that other Benedict Arnold).

There’s a statue of Leuif Ericson, standing in a stubby viking “shortboat” on the median of Commonwealth Ave to the west of Mass Ave in Boston, erected by people convinced that he’d visited Boston. No evidence I’m aware of backs this up.
There’s supposed to have been a “Viking” axehead down near Plymouth.I’ve seen a picture of it, but don’t know anything.
Some people have suggested Vikings had something to do with Mystery Hill in Salem, NH, or with Dighton Rock, or any other curious site in New England.
Propbably the best case that can be made for Viking penetration beyond the acknowledged site is the name “Vinland”, which (despite other interpretations) seems most likely to be “Wine-Land” or “Vine-Land”. The Anse Aux Meadows site is too far north for grapes. E ven granting that they might have meant berries of some sort, the name “Vinland” still suggests kniowledge of regions much farther south.

I don’t know about further exploration, but as it happens another possible long-term Viking settlement has been investigated recently: Tanfield Valley, on Baffin Island.

IMO, the Newport Tower is pre-colonial. Probably also pre-Columbian but not necessarily so. The astronomical alignments in the Newport Tower alone eliminate a colonial windmill. Newport was a fledgling colony more concerned with defense from Indians that building what for them would have been elaborately designed stone windmills. Now, I have no doubt an attempt was made to modify the ruins of the tower to serve as a windmill, there is much evidence for that. But that too failed, and soon after a new wooden windmill was built to serve newport.

It seems to me that if they were well entrenched in their ‘meadows’ settlement, with the ability to obtain sufficient food to winter over, the next most obvious and natural thing for them to do would be to explore the coast, heading southward along the coastline and St. Laurence River. Lots of things could have happened to a party doing this, most of them not so good. Apparently, the Meadows settlement didn’t last too long, so I would suspect if one party went out and didn’t return, they would be more inclined not to send another, esp. if living conditions were not the best and food ran short.

But, even if they explored the coast as far south as they might go in one season, just surveying, and returned, they don’t seem to have had any time to build any stone towers, or erect any other permanent cairns. They also didn’t seem to draw maps very well. The eddas don’t seem to indicate a more southward push, even though they don’t seem to fear the Skralings all that much.

IMHO, if they explored southward, and they might well have, they didn’t leave any record of it, and it would not be particularly meaningful if they had, except as a posslble piece of information for future explorers.

I found Means’ arguments pretty intriguing when I read his book, and Frederick Pohl (the pre-Columbian writer, bot the SF author) did a good job in locating a document relating the existence of a stone tower. And the tower seems singularly ill-designed for a windmill, I have to admit. But the archaeological exacavations make a better case for the tower’s colonial dating, especially with the colonial detritus found under the footings of the tower.
This isd the first I’ve heard of astronomical alignment associated with the tower. Dio you have references?

You can have that opinion, but all of the evidence indicates a colonial origin, and none indicates it was constructed by Vikings.

Remember, these were guys who came from a barren wasteland known as “Greenland”. They were *ironic *vikings.

Does this mean that people who built windmills in those days were extra careful not to incorporate any astronomical alignments in their buildings and what astronomical alignments are you referring to in the first place?

Here’s a good source on astronomical alignments. http://www.chronognostic.org/newport_tower.html

It is obvious that the stone footers were dug up in colonial times, and after the tower was built. My take is that this was done as part of the effort to convert what was left of the tower to a windmill. But the stresses of the windmill (I do think they got it operational) were too great, and they tried to shore up the foundation. By the way, it is borderline absurd to think that anyone would design a windmill with such a poor foundation. There are hundreds of other reasons why a colonial build is the most far-fetched theory of all.

Have you seen their facial hair? Total hipster.

I also recall reading (and wikipedia has note on this) that the “vin” in “vinland” may not be the word for “wine”, but the similar word for “pasture”, which is more like the actual geography. The “wine” interpretation is a later reinterpretation of the word.

God damned hipsters!

No opinion on this specific case, but the world is full of absurdly-badly-planned-and-designed things. Chock full.

I’ve heard this, but I’ve alspo heard the counterargument that “vin” is undoubtedly meant to be “vine/wine”, and has been understood to be that way for centuries (IIRC, the sagas themselves mention the grapes, but it’s been ages since I read them), with competing explanations being the johnny-come-latelies.
edited to add – The Wikipedia page confirms the grapes being in the saga, and the relatively late suggestion of “vin” = “meadow”


That website offers no evidence. It makes unsubstantiated claims about the date of origin of the tower. A north facing window is not a remarkable astronomical alignment, and it seems obvious to me that the footings were placed there in colonial times.

Why on earth would Vikings travel to Newport, build a large tower, and not leave any other enduring artifacts?

They were screwing with the heads of future historians.

Greenland was warmer, and indeed greener, before the 14th century. There were trees, crops were grown. It may be true that the name was deliberately upbeat, but it was no wasteland, at least not for Norse.

As well as the famous Vinland (likely Newfoundland) the Norse also told of Markland, north of Vinland, and Helluland, north of Markland. It’s speculated that Markland is somewhere along what is now the coast of Labrador in Canada and that Helluland is probably Baffin Island (especially if the site in MikeS’s link turns out to be bona fide).

The Newport Tower, if pre-Columbian, was probably built in the late 14th century, not by Vikings but by their descendents who had long known of these lands. Most often cited as likely is Prince Henry Sinclair. But to me, the important thing is not who built it, we’ll probably never know. But that it is pre-colonial.

The Prince Henry Sinclair thing is new to me, too. Nothing I’ve read on Sinclair ever suggested he had anything to do with the Tower, or puts him in Newport. He’s been associated with Canada and the Westford Rock.