Today’s location was undoubtedly spurred by some effective Canadian propaganda from this Heritage Minute in our younger days. The L’Anse aux Meadows site was an archeological discovery in the 1960s that proved that the Vikings/Norsemen, and thus Europeans, had a settlement in North America as early as 1000 AD. Apparently, they returned to this site 4 times over about a 10 year period, but then abandoned it.
When you visit this Parks Canada National Historic Site you see the lumps in the ground that were excavated and then carefully returned to their pre-excavation state. We arrived in time for the guided tour and this was the most interesting guided tour ever. Our Parks Canada tour guide, Clayton, was a child in the closest fishing village when the dig first began. His parents became friends with the archeologists, hosting them occasionally in their home, and he told first-hand stories of the stages of the dig. He has been connected with the site ever since so was incredibly interesting to listen to.
The UN flag in the middle signifies that this is a UNESCO World Heritage site
A reconstruction of a Norse village
A ways from the original dig site, there are some reconstructed buildings and costumed interpretive staff that make this a very entertaining and informative experience. We also enjoyed a 2km hike in the surrounding wild, where we found some red chairs.
Across the road from the Parks Canada official site is another reconstructed Viking village called the Norsestead Village. They have a full-size reconstruction of a Viking ship and endeavour to show a permanent Viking settlement, as opposed to the temporary stop-over site that would have been at L’Anse aux Meadows. Some of the costumed lady staff were cooking over an open fire – making a fry bread in a frying pan that seems to be a familiar staple among so many cultures. (Think “bannock”.)
We did see several icebergs over the last 24 hours, many at a considerable distance, but another one quite close-up in the harbour at Saint Lunaire-Griquet as we were leaving. With the binoculars, we could see some pretty amazing features. We also drove through caribou territory yesterday and today, but alas, it seems we will not have seen any caribou on this trip.
Thrombolites at Flowers Cove
We arrived in our B & B town of Flowers Cove around 4 pm so that gave us some time to check out the local highlight – geological features once again. We did 2 different hikes to discover each of these unique features. The most famous are thrombolites which look like huge round pillows made for an incredible low tide walk and scamper. The second were limestone barrens. This was thick limestone rocks with cracks in between. It is like walking on a puzzle as you step from rock to rock, and then you peer down each crack to see what type of plants are growing in this protected environment.
Limestone barrens at Flowers Cove, Newfoundland
We stayed at a most lovely B & B last night called Jenny’s Runestone House which was in Hay Cove with about 10 other houses – a 2-minute drive from L’Anse aux Meadows. Jenny and David are from Ontario and come seasonally to operate the B & B and provide their guests with a wonderful 3-course breakfast and a wealth of information about the area. For instance, why are there random fenced gardens in the ditches? Turns out that this is where the soil was turned over by the big road building machines so the locals just came and planted their gardens in the ditch – the fences are to protect from the moose. And in the northern peninsula here, there are wood piles galore in the ditches (in other parts of Newfoundland they are mostly in the yards). Nobody steals anyone else’s wood, and there are ‘wood sleighs’ all over that are used to transport the wood over the snow during the winter cutting season.
Timber piles like this are neatly stacked in the ditches in the north, but more commonly in yards in other parts
Wood sleighs – these are not rare!