Saga

Sagas related to Vinland:

- the Book of the Icelanders (Íslendingabók), written between 1122 and 1133 (Smithsonian)
- text of the Icelandic Sagas (NorthVegr)
- text of Eirik the Red’s Saga, written about 1265
- the Saga of the Greenlanders, compiled ~13th century (Smithsonian)

As site about.com informs: “there are also discrepancies between the various manuscripts. Two major documents—the Greenlanders’ Saga and Eirik the Red’s Saga—give differing roles to Leif and the merchant Thorfinn Karlsefni. In the Greenlander’s Saga, lands southwest of Greenland are said to have been discovered accidentally by Bjarni Herjolfsson. Leif Eriksson was the chieftain of the Norse on Greenland, and Leif is given credit for exploring the lands of Helluland (probably Baffin Island), Markland (“Treeland”, likely the heavily wooded Labrador coast) and Vinland (probably what is southeasternern Canada); Thorfinn has a minor role.In Eirik the Red’s Saga, Leif’s role is downplayed. He is dismissed as the accidental discoverer of Vinland; and the explorer/leadership role is given to Thorfinn. Eirik the Red’s Saga was written in the 13th century when one of Thorfinn’s descendants was being canonized; it may be, say some historians, propaganda by this man’s supporters to inflate his ancestor’s role in the momentous discoveries. Historians have a fine time decoding such documents.”

Skalholt map

 

Controversial Skálholt Map 

In the late 16th century a young teacher from Skálholt, Sigurd Stefánsson, attempted to use the available documentary evidence to mark the sites of the ancient Norse discoveries in the western Atlantic, including Vinland, on a map. Sigurdur was the grandson of a Skálholt bishop. After studying at the University of Copenhagen, Sigurdur became a teacher at the former monastery of Skálholt, which remained the religious and educational centre in Iceland even after Protestantism was introduced in 1551.

His 1570 original no longer survives. A copy was made in 1690 by Thordur Thorlaksson (also known by his Latinized name, Thorlacius), the Bishop of Skálholt. The map is in the collections of the Danish Royal Library. Numerous other copies were made by Scandinavian scholars. By matching latitudes with the British Isles, the map shows the northern tip of “Vinland” as being at (51°N), the same latitude as the southern tip of Ireland and Bristol, England. This information was transferred to more modern maps. This indicated, among other things, that the promontory of Vinland was marked by Stefánsson at the position of the northern promontory of Newfoundland, which was one of the factors that encouraged the successful archaeological investigations in 1960 at L’Anse Aux Meadows.