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Page 23 - A Theory of the Vikings on Cape Breton

Published by Ronald Caplan on 1977/12/1 (458 reads)

of the Greenland settlement. And then goes on to say that Baffin Island must have been Helluland. That's ridiculous. Because Baf? fin Island is not southeast of the Green settlement. It's northwest. And moreover, I think that Farley Mowat's greatest contribu? tion is that he shows almost conclusively that Eirik the Red and all of his people were familiar with Baffin Island • they hunted there • so Baffin Island couldn't possibly be Bjarni's third land. Now there's still something to be said for New England as Vinland • because when Leif travelled from Bjarni's second land to Bjarni's first land • Markland to Vinland • he ran before a northeaster. Now that couldn't possibly happen either on the east coast of Newfoundland or of Labrador • be? cause the geography prevents it. But it could happen from Newfoundland to Cape Bre? ton. Or at least from Cape George till he sighted the high hills around Cape North • which would be the first land he'd sight after leaving Newfoundland. Then if it was still northeaster he'd have trouble coming into either St. Ann's or Big Bras d'Or • but the wind changes frequently here. A gale u- sually starts from the east, southeast, and swings around to the north. So you have to understand the prevailing winds. You have to know the geography of Cape Breton and Newfoundland before you can make sense of the sagas. And then when you do that • eve? rything falls into place. There are no con? tradictions, of practically none. Every? thing just fits. The southernmost land was Bjarni's first land • that was the new land, Vinland. And my idea is that it was Cape Breton. It couldn't possibly, as far as I can inter? pret the sagas • it couldn't possibly be north of here. It could be south of here, in New England • certain things point that way. For instance, there's running before a northeast wind from the second to the first land fits New England, and the wild grapes fit New England. But there's no Straumsfiord (fiord with a very strong tide) in New England. There's no river flowing westward. None from Minas Basin or Apple River in Bay of Fundy right down to Florida • there's no river flowing westward. So that doesn't jibe. Farley Mowat (who argues in his West Viking that Vinland is Newfoundland) thinks Straumsfiord was the Strait of Belle Isle • that's awfully farfetched, it seems to me. A strait ten miles across at its narrowest point and knowing that it was a strait • they wouldn't call it a fiord. They had their own names for channels and for bays, and a fiord is a narrow entrance with a hill on both sides. So I don't think it could be the Strait of Belle Isle. Now, Ingstad has proven that the Vikings were there (at L'Anse aux Meadows, Newfoundland, the northern tip of the Strait of Belle Isle) but he hasn't proven that that place was either Vinland or Markland. (And you yourself see that site as a kind of a half? way house?) Yes, it's a natural place for a halfway house. If they delayed too long aroimd the Gulf of St. Lawrence and winter or October overtook them and they couldn't get back to Greenland on account of storms • that would be a natural place to have a halfway house. I think Ingstad has strength? ened my theory. Because they are not the kind of people who would stop for 200 years at the Strait of Belle Isle, with these two shores extending southward. The whole idea is absurd. They couldn't. They'd have to go down the strait and see. F.J. Pohl (who argues that Vinland was in New England) says that Straumsfiord was the Hudson River. But in my opinion the sailing time given for Bjarni's return to Greenland rules out the whole American coast. It just couldn't have been done in ten days, with? out a compass and without any means of find- llofour mosthe'xhil services inone convenient package tohdpyoukeep tfiose promises youVemadeto yoars/dL ROYAL BANK serywygthe Atiaittic ''oviriDes CAFE BBETONlS OWN FORNITDXIE SHOWBOOMJB TUbles Ghaizii Redlineni Sofas Stereos TalevisioDs Gaifpets Ranges Refrigerators Wasbers BortHMllass Schwartz
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