L'Anse aux Meadows National Historic Site of Canada

St. Anthony, Newfoundland and Labrador
General view of a reconstructed viking hut at L'Anse aux Meadows, 2003. © Parks Canada Agency/ Agence Parcs Canada, D. Wilson, 2003.
General view
© Parks Canada Agency/ Agence Parcs Canada, D. Wilson, 2003.
General view of a reconstructed viking hut at L'Anse aux Meadows, 2003. © Parks Canada Agency/ Agence Parcs Canada, D. Wilson, 2003.General view showing the L'Anse aux Meadows site showing viewplanes over the Strait of Belle Isle, the offshore islands, the Labrador coast. © Parks Canada Agency / Agence Parcs Canada, n.d.General view of the remains of Norse building at L'Anse aux Meadows emphasizing the layout of the site as three grouped complexes of eight separate building remains, associated structures and middens, 2003. © Parks Canada Agency / Agence Parcs Canada, D. Wilson, 2003.
Address : 11 km north of Saint-Luniare, St. Anthony, Newfoundland and Labrador

Recognition Statute: Historic Sites and Monuments Act (R.S.C., 1985, c. H-4)
Designation Date: 1968-11-28
Dates:
  • 1000 to 1000 (Construction)
  • 1962 to 1962 (Significant)

Event, Person, Organization:
  • Leif Ericsson  (Person)
  • Norse  (Organization)
  • Viking  (Organization)
Other Name(s):
  • L'Anse aux Meadows  (Designation Name)
Research Report Number: 1967-005, 1968-040
DFRP Number: 01725 00

Plaque(s)


Existing plaque: Plaque is located in interpretive center 11 km north of Saint-Luniare, Newfoundland and Labrador

Discovered in 1960, this is the first authenticated Norse site found in North America and could be Leif Ericsson's short-lived Vinland camp. Some time about AD 1000 Norse seafarers established a base here from which they explored southwards. The traces of bog iron found - the first known example of iron smelting in the new world - in conjunction with evidence of carpentry suggest that boat repair was an important activity. The distance from their homelands and conflict with Native people may have led the Norse to abandon the site.

Description of Historic Place

L'Anse aux Meadows National Historic Site of Canada comprises the archaeolgical remains of an early Viking settlement situated on the eastern shore of Epaves Bay, 1 km south of the village of L'Anse aux Meadows at the tip of the Great Northern Peninsula in Newfoundland. Parks Canada has erected a partial reconstruction of the habitation for purposes of public presentation.

Heritage Value

L'Anse aux Meadows was designated a national historic site of Canada in 1962 because it is the first known site established by Vikings in North America, and the earliest evidence of Europeans in Canada.

The heritage value of the site lies in the archaeological evidence of early Viking presence in Canada. The location, surroundings and disposition of the site together with the nature of the remains it contains provide both an essential record and legible description of Viking life on the site. In ca. 1000 AD, l'Anse aux Meadows was established as exploration base Leifsbuoir/ Straumfjord, popularly known as Leif Ericsson's short-lived Vinland camp. It has been conserved and interpreted as a national historic site of Canada.

Sources: Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada, 1968 Minutes; Commemorative Integrity Statement, 1998.

Character-Defining Elements

Key elements contributing to the heritage value include:
location on the very northern edge of the Great Northern Peninsula on the Strait of Belle Isle; the siting on a narrow dry terrace back from the beach and bounded by sedge peat bogs; the layout of the site as three grouped complexes of eight separate building remains, associated structures and middens; the archaeological remains of sod walls and timber frames; archaeological evidence of specific functions including dwellings, an iron-making bloomery, refuse pits, and boat repair sites; presence of fresh water brook, bog iron ore; the spatial relationships between and among remains on the site; viewscapes to nearby surroundings (bogs, small brook, and harbour basin), neighbouring coves; viewscapes to landmarks marking the route from the site to the sea (Great Sacred Island, Flat Island, distinctive capes and knolls), viewplanes over the Strait of Belle Isle, the offshore islands, the Labrador coast.