Early American History
The Age of Exploration
Baffin Island (Helluland)
Erik the Red
Key Concepts

Erik the Red was a Viking. He was banished from Iceland for killing another Viking in a fight. He moved to a much larger island west of Iceland and called it Greenland. He chose the name Greenland so that other Vikings would think his Island was a beautiful place to live. Actually much of Greenland is covered with ice and glacier. It has a frozen ground called tundra that thaws during the summer months. Greenland has very few trees.

Eric the Red had a son named Leif Eriksson. Leif Eriksson grew up hearing stories about a land to the west of Greenland. This land was said to have had small round hills called knolls. The stories told of huge forests covering the knolls.

In the year 1000 A.D., Leif Eriksson and his crew set off to find the land of the stories. He sailed to the what is today known as Newfoundland. There, Leif Eriksson and his crew built temporary houses made of mud and grass. The land had so many grapevines and berry bushes they called the settlement Vinland.

Leif Eriksson sailed to Newfoundland many times over the next few years. The Vikings were good sailors. Their boats were called Longships and were about 75 feet long. Viking longships could travel on rough, open seas. They could carry up to 35 people. The Vikings used Newfoundland as a base for hunting and fishing. Leif Eriksson also explored other parts of North America. Two of these places he named Helluland, or "Land of Flat Rocks" (Baffin Island), and Markland or "Forest Land" (Labrador).
The Greenlander's Saga
Labrador (Markland)
Leif Eriksson
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Additional Information

Erik the Red - Eric the Red was a Viking explorer who discovered Greenland. His nickname is due to his red hair.

Greenland - Greenland is the world's largest island. It is located between Canada and Europe. In many ways, Greenland is still in the Ice Age. Much of Greenland is covered by a glacier that is two miles thick.

Leif Eriksson - Leif Eriksson was sometimes called "Leif the Lucky." He was a very large, strong Norse man, and a good sailor. When he went exploring to look for the land told in stories, he retraced Bjarni's Herjolfsson's route.

Newfoundland - Newfoundland is today part of Canada. It is an island on Canada's northeast coast.

stories - Bjarni Herjolfsson was a Norse sailor. In 986 C.E., a storm blew him off course when he was on his way to Greenland. He landed in North
America. Bjarni Herjolfsson was the first European to come to North America.
When he returned to Greenland, he reported what he found. Leif Eriksson
then decided to explore the land for himself.

Vikings - The first Europeans to discover America were the Vikings, or Norse men. The Vikings were from Scandinavia. At the time, they were the terror of Europe. The name Viking means "sea raider" or "pirate." Not all Vikings were pirates. Most were farmers who raised cattle and sheep. They also sailed to fish from the ocean. During the 9th and 10 centuries, Scandinavia became crowded. Vikings began to look for other lands to farm.

Vinland - In 1961, Archeologists found a Viking settlement on the north coast of Newfoundland. They uncovered the remains of eight Viking style long houses and some Viking artifacts. One artifact was part of a spindle used for spinning wool. The remains of the settlement proved that Vikings once lived in America. The spindle was proof that women were part of that same settlement. The archeologists reburied the original foundations in order to preserve them. Then the archaeologists built houses of sod and fences of wood. The houses and fences show how the Viking settlement looked in the year 1000.






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