“In 1492, Columbus sailed the ocean blue.” This phrase, which most children are taught in elementary education, helps them learn about Christopher Columbus. Most Americans grow up to believe that Christopher Columbus was the first European to discover the “new world”. However, historical documentation has shown that the Spanish were not the first Europeans to discover North America. The Norsemen, led by Bjarne Sigvatson, claimed the new world for the King Magnus several centuries earlier.
In the tenth and eleventh century, several Vikings reported to have seen a land to the far west of Greenland while on voyages (what kind of voyages?). King Magnus, ruler of the Norse, wanted to learn more about the land and claim it as his own. He sent out some of the finest seaman and crew to go find and settle this new land. Bjarne Sigvatson was chosen to lead an expedition to the new world. The three Viking ships carried families, cattle and food to set up the new colony in this land.
The ships sailed into the St. Lawrence Seaway and into Newfoundland, Canada where they immediately made camp. Native Indians were found near the settlement and peace was soon made between the two cultures. The Norse traded with the Indians and learned how to harvest the land from them. Everything was going as hoped for the Norse. Their livestock and crops were plentiful during the summer months, and when winter came the colony was prepared to last through it.
After nine months in the new land, Bjarne wanted to know how far the land stretched. He decided to take fifty men and set out to explore and claim the land to King Magnus. The men left on a four-week expedition that eventually lasted three months. They traveled south through Maine and into eastern half of the United States. They traveled throughout the land claiming it until they ran out of supplies and headed home. Their territory was marked using rune stones placed along their journey. When Norsemen returned to their settlement, the settlement was gone. Everything was burned and every family was butchered. The Bjarne and his men were furious over the loss of friends and family members. They immediately blamed the native Indians for the attack on the settlement. The Bjarne’s men took the few remains of the settlement and placed them on their ships to sink at sea. The Norsemen believed this was the only true burial for them. Next they then turned their attention on the natives and sought revenge. Armed for battle and with no intentions of returning home, the Norsemen set out to avenge the attack. They burned and rampaged village after village of the Indian’s homes until every last one of the Norse, including Bjarne himself, was finally cut down. The only traces left from the settlement were the few remaining weapons and the rune stones left from the expedition. No one would inhabit the land for another two centuries.
The Norse left little evidence of their existence and...