Leif Eriksson (callled also Leif the Lucky, also spelled Ericson, Eiríksson, or Erikson, Norwegian Leiv Eriksson den Hepne, Icelandic Leifur Eiríksson) was a Norwegian Viking, and probably the first European discoverer of America.

According to the sagas of Icelanders (Íslendingasögur) around the year 1000 Leif bought a boat from Bjarni Herjolfssona and he went with other youngsters to find land which Herjolfsson had seen before on west. They found the North America and spent the winter there on ground. They called it Vinland – Wine Country. Wine (which briefly was knewn only by one person expedition) were probably local wild berries.

Leif learned of Vinland from the Icelander Bjarni Herjulfsson, who had been there 14 years earlier. The Saga pictures Leif as reaching North America several years after 1000 and visiting Helluland (possibly Labrador) and Markland (possibly Newfoundland) as well as Vinland.

Viking Ship of Leif Eriksson


According to archaeological excavations and saga descriptions they discovered Newfoundland. According to other sagas Leif Eriksson was commanded to spread out Christianity in Greenland – where (thanks to his mother) was originated the oldest church of the island.

His father was Erik the Red, the second of three sons. He became the first European colonizer of Greenland. The appellation “the Red” most likely refers to his hair color. Erik the Red’s father was banished from Norway for the crime of manslaughter. He sailed West from Norway with his family and settled in Hornstrandir in northwestern Iceland. The Icelanders later sentenced Erik to exile for three years due to “some killings” he committed around the year 982. Even though popular history credits Erik the Red as the first discoverer Greenland, the Icelandic sagas suggest that earlier Norsemen discovered and tried to settle it before him.

Leif sailed from Greenland to Norway in 1000, according to the Icelandic Eiríks saga (“Saga of Erik”), and was there converted to Christianity by the Norwegian king Olaf the First Tryggvason.

Statue of Leif Eriksson