Late in the tenth century, the Norse Vikings embarked on a voyage of no return. Leaving Iceland first for Greenland, from there they sailed onwards to North America, setting foot on its shores five hundred years before Columbus's first journeys of discovery. But by about AD 1500 their settlements were abandoned and the Norse Greenlanders and their explorations of the New World receded into the realms of myth. What happened between these momentous events? How did the Vikings really live - and die - and why have so many myths and legends grown up around this mysterious people of the sea? Drawing on her deep knowledge of the culture and history of the region as well as the most up-to-date evidence from archaeology, medieval history and the evocative Sagas, Seaver weaves together a compelling and authoritative history. Alongside their spectacular achievements and discoveries, she also vividly evokes the last Vikings' daily lives and explains why their apparent departure in 1500 was not quite such a dramatic schism in the historical record as is often assumed. This compelling history of a people living at the fringes of the known world offers an illuminating entree into the world of the Norse Greenlanders which will captivate all who have ever wondered about the fate of the Vikings and will stand as the definitive work for years to come.
Kirsten A. Seaver is an independent historian who has taught at the University of Stanford. She has also worked as a novelist and a translator and her work has been published extensively in both English and Norwegian. A Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society, London, her previous publications include Maps, Myths, and Men: The Story of the Vinland Map and The Frozen Echo.
Introduction * No forwarding address * Eirik the Red knew where to go * Forging a new homeland * Leif Eiriksson explores another new land * The fictional Norse in North America * Who were the Skrælings? * Relations with Church and Crown * Foreign trade * Contact with Iceland * The English in the North Atlantic * Where did the Norse Greenlanders go? * Who went looking for them? * Reference notes * Works cited * Maps * Other illustrations * Texts to illustrations