Christopher Columbus was the first European to land in America, right? Wrong. It was, in fact, the Viking Leif Erikson. He was born in Iceland to Erik the Red and moved to Greenland during his childhood. Erikson’s first important voyage was to Norway. His most very important voyage, though, was the voyage back to Greenland in which he found North America, but at that time named the place “Vinland.” After founding Vinland, he never returned and remained in Greenland. There is even a holiday named after Leif Erikson.
Leif Erikson, also known as Leif the Lucky, was born to Erik the Red in Iceland a few years before 1000 A.D. Many say that exploration was in Leif’s blood, because his father was the first founder of Greenland. He explored a lot as a child and more as an adult. He took many different journeys growing up because that is what his father did. On his very first journey he navigated alone was to Norway.
Leif Erikson was twenty four when he went from Greenland to Norway, his very first time navigating and captaining a voyage. The purpose of the voyage was to bring King Olaf gifts. Leif took along a crew of fourteen men. The journey was exceptionally slow. After five days they saw Iceland. Usually sailors saw Iceland in only two days. It took many days to get to Norway, the crew even ended up staying on small islands called the Herbrides. On one of the islands, Leif conceived a son with the Lord of the Island’s daughter. His name was Thorgils and is one of the two sons confirmed to be Leif’s. A few days later Leif and his crew made it to Norway. Upon reaching Norway, King Olaf converted Leif to Christianity and persuaded him to spread the religion in Greenland.
There are two stories about Leif Erikson discovering the New World. One was that Leif had sailed off course on his way back to Greenland from Norway. He landed in a place with an abundance of wild grapes growing on vines. He named the place Vinland. Another story was that he heard of Vinland from Bjarni Herjulfsson, an Icelandic trader. Herjulfsson claimed to have sighted Vinland from the sea fourteen years before, but never set foot on the land.
Researches are still unsure how Leif discovered Vinland, or where the Viking expedition first landed. The Groenlendinga saga, or the Saga of the Greenlanders, claimed that Leif landed in three places: Helluland, thought to be Labrador, Markland, thought to be Newfoundland, and Vinland. Over many centuries, the location of Vinland has been debated. Excavations of L'Anse aux Meadows, located on the northern tip of Newfoundland,...