Exciting new research has proven that Norse explorers were cutting timber in L’Anse aux Meadows, Newfoundland, in the year 1021, exactly one thousand years ago.
Since the settlers’ village was discovered in the 1960s, it has been known that Norse sailors reached the continent around the turn of the first millennium, and the date of 1000 AD is often used as a reasonable estimate. However, a new technique of tree-ring counting has provided a precise date of 1021 for at least three pieces of felled timber at the site.
The new method uses evidence of a solar flare that occurred in 993; a flare that has been found to have affected tree rings all over the world. Counting out from that date to the bark left on the discarded wood provides the exact date on which it was cut — 1021 AD. Other marks on the wood show that they were cut with metal tools, which local indigenous peoples did not have at that date.
“It adds some intrigue,” says John Steinberg, an anthropologist at the Fiske Center for Archaeological Research at the University of Massachusetts Boston. “If the Vikings left Greenland around 1000, as the sagas suggest, L’Anse aux Meadows was occupied at least sporadically for perhaps 20 years, rather than just three years as has been assumed. On the other hand, it may be that it was only occupied for three years but those years were 15 years later than we thought.” Steinberg raises another possibility as well—that the Vikings went back and forth between Greenland and Vinland more commonly than has been believed.”
For historians studying an event that is best known from old sagas and legendary tales, achieving such precision in dating is a grand achievement.
Twelve years ago today, I was called into my boss’s office and told that I was being laid off.
The locally-owned company where I had worked for a good many years had been taken over by a larger American group earlier that year, and they wanted to put their own people into senior management positions. I wasn’t the first or even fourth senior manager to be sent packing, and I had expected this meeting all through the summer. I was almost sixty years old and bored with working for someone else. When the hammer fell, I was greatly relieved and happily accepted the generous severance pay they offered.
Luckily, I knew exactly what I wanted to do with the first part of my enforced retirement. I was keen to write a history of Commercial Drive and over the next fifteen months, that’s what I did. Along with this I helped establish the Grandview Heritage Group which kept me busy and interested. At the same time, I wanted to become a lot more involved in local politics, knowing that a Community Plan was about to be thrust upon us. Any regular reader of this blog will know that I was and remain deeply involved in those matters to this day.
The Community Plan experience led to my third book Battleground: Grandview which was published last November,
So, I have been busy these last twelve years. But the genuine sense of freedom has been the really exhilarating feeling. I wake up when I want, dress in whatever I want, spend time with the Everloving, cook, take long luxurious naps, read, write, and relax. We certainly don’t have the money we had when I was working, but we get by OK, and I’ll swap the money for such freedom any day.
It has been a grand twelve years, and I quietly thank my old firm for laying me off when they did.