Follow the Viking Cultural Route
CYNTHIA ELYCE RUBIN
The Norwegian American
There’s a lot to do in the region. Besides good food and drink, the discovery at L’Anse aux Meadows has given rise to additional attractions and has helped to keep a rural area alive. Nearby is Norstead Viking Village, a non-profit organization that was created to take history out of the exhibit case. It is an “imaginary” Viking village with costumed interpreters.
In the dim light of the Viking-style Chieftain’s Hall, listen to old Viking tales. Check out the blacksmith forging iron. Step aboard the full-scale replica of the Viking ship “Snorri” and learn how the Vikings mastered the North Atlantic Ocean. Use a simple notched stick to measure distance by the stars. Shape clay into pottery the way Vikings did. Spin sheep fleece into yarn using ancient drop spindle methods. Dye yarns many colors using local plants and berries and weave them into cloth at the loom.
Norstead replicates a Viking port of trade as it may have looked during the Viking era 790-1066 AD. There is also a boat shed with its very own Viking ships, including the 54-foot replica Viking knarr, a type of Norse merchant ship, that sailed from Greenland to L’Anse aux Meadows in 1998 with a crew of nine men. According to its website, “The aim of the site is to ensure that visitors have the opportunity to gain a broader understanding of Norse life, while having fun through an enriched travel experience.” It is a fine complement to L’Anse aux Meadows, the original location that helps explain the complex society of the Viking way of life.
The Leif Erikson International Foundation erected a 10-foot bronze statue of Leif Erikson in 2013 on the wharf harbor front. This has propelled the site on the “Viking Bucket List.” Loretta Decker attests to the fact that people love to have their picture taken with this metal giant. “It’s a big plus to the community” she says.
About the Viking Cultural Route
The Viking Age was a period during which Vikings achieved great ship-building skills, as well as navigational and seafaring skills that allowed them to travel widely. They established important trading centers in varied places, including Hedeby (Germany), Birka (Sweden), York (England), Dublin and Waterford (Ireland) and Kiev (Ukraine). The Viking Cultural Route is a cross-border collection of sites, stories, and heritage that represent the shared Viking legacy of Europe and beyond. Certified in 1993, it recognizes that the Vikings transmitted culture and traditions throughout the European continent.
Since 2012, the route has been managed by the Destination Viking Association, a network of some 60 partners from 16 countries, including museums, attractions, and organizations working together to create borderless tourism destinations focused on the Viking world. Today, some 100 sites dot the route’s map. For more information on both these organizations, go to followthevikings.com.
This article originally appeared in the Sept. 17, 2021, issue of The Norwegian American.