Often unnoticed, a modest monument beside the entrance to the Vikingskipshuset honours Helge Marcus Ingstad (1899–2001) and his wife Anne Stine (1918–1997), explorer-archeologists who spent years looking for Norse settlements on the North Atlantic seaboard. Their efforts were inspired by two medieval Icelandic sagas, which detailed the establishment of the colony of Vinland somewhere along the American coast in about 1000 AD. Many academics were sceptical, but Ingstad and Stine were proved right when, in 1960, they discovered the remnants of a Norse village at L’Anse aux Meadows in Canada’s Newfoundland. These remains comprised the foundations of eight turf and timber buildings and a ragbag of archeological finds, including a cloak pin, a stone anvil, nails, pieces of bog iron and an oil lamp. Ingstad and Stine concluded that these were left behind by a group of about one hundred sailors, carpenters and blacksmiths who probably remained at the site for just one or maybe two years – and several hundred years before Columbus reached the Americas.

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