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The BBC's Helen Wade
"The flotilla display will be one of the highlights"
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Saturday, 29 July, 2000, 01:28 GMT 02:28 UK
Vikings return to North America
Arrival of the replica Viking ship in Greenland
The ship's arrival in Greenland was a huge event
By Lee Carter in Toronto

The Vikings have returned to North America.

A flotilla of 13 replica Viking ships, led by the 23m-long Islendingur, arrived on Friday off the Canadian coast - in L'Anse Aux Meadows, Newfoundland.

[The Vikings] were everyday farmers, navigators, just looking for things to take back home

Debbie Anderson, Norstead Viking village
The site is where Norse explorer Leif Eriksson first landed in North America 1,000 years ago.

The arrival of the ships - which left Iceland six weeks ago - marks the climax of Viking milennium events in Canada and the United States.

"At the beginning of a new milennium, a Viking ship has once more braved the waters separating the old world and the new," the ship's captain Gunnar Marel Eggertson told a 16,000-strong crowd.

Mr Eggertson is a direct descendant of Leif Eriksson.

Viking village

The construction of the long boat was based on original plans discovered for a Viking ship from 1,100 years ago.

The Islendingur
The Islendingur on her way to Greenland.
Apart from the ships, the centrepiece of the event in L'Anse Aux Meadows is Norstead - a recreated Viking village consisting of a boatshed, place of worship, chieftains hut, tents and fire pit.

Actors are living on the site as Vikings would have done 1,000 years ago and will continue to do so for the rest of the summer.

The village is a recreation of a genuine Viking settlement just 2km away from Norstead.

It was unearthed by Norwegian archaelogists in 1960.

It remains the only verified Viking settlement in North America and has been designated a Unesco World Heritage Site.

'Not that warlike'

The site supervisor, Debbie Anderson, says that although the Norstead actors occasionally oblige the crowds with a bloodthirsty battle, the Vikings were probably not that warlike.

"There was nothing to support the theory that they were actually fighters," she said.

"They were everyday farmers, navigators, just looking for things to take back home, such as timber and grapes."

The eight-member crew will now travel to a number of other Canadian ports before leaving for the US.

The ship will be in New York on 5 October for the opening of a Viking exhibition at the American Museum of Natural History.

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See also:

15 Jul 00 | Europe
Greenland marks Viking voyage
05 Apr 00 | Sci/Tech
Did the Vikings make a telescope?
28 Jun 99 | UK
Ship pulled by Norse power
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