The discovery of the New World in 1492 set the stage for a new period in world history called the Modern Age. While there will be many opinions concerning when this age should be considered officially started, be it the fall of Byzantine, the Reformation, or whatever; the voyage of Columbus must certainly have been like a shot of adrenaline in the arm of the Age of Discovery.
Strange that it wouldn’t be until the post-modern world began to arise that the story of Leif Ericson would come to light. Maybe the world simply needed to break free of the confining arrogance of the ‘enlightenment’ to be able to look into the pre-modern world without bias, or maybe such stories weren’t believed because they were written off as mere myths. Whatever the reason, the fact is that for many centuries this earlier discovery of the New World went overlooked. The story first begins to come to light in 1874 when a book called America Not Discovered by Columbus was written by Rasmus B. Anderson. Over the next century the the idea began to be accepted as evidence mounted. In the 1960’s a norse settlement was discovered in Newfoundland by Helge and Anne Ingstad and suddenly there is proof that the discovery of North America occurred about 5oo years before Columbus.
October 9th celebrates Leif Ericson Day. He is believed to have been born in Iceland and/or Norway in the late 10th century the son of Erik the Red, (Ericson = Eriks Son). One story states that Leif was a convert to the Christian Faith and it was on a journey to bring Christianity to Greenland that the Norseman was blown off course and directly into history. Accounts of the journey are mentioned in the Vinland Sagas (c 1200), and some believe that the stories may have been known even to Columbus. Leif is considered to be the first European to set foot in the New World.
Another bit of evidence, which must remain as controversial is the Vinland Map. The authenticity of the Map is disputed, however the claim is that it is a 15th century Mappa Mundi which was a copy of an earlier manuscript. The far left of the Map shows the area known as Vinland, and is believed to be Newfoundland.
Vinland means Wine Land or land of Vines. It was believed that the land was full of grape vines which produced the best wine. It can also mean meadows or pasture land, which seems to be a more popular translation and may be more accurate given the climate in Newfoundland. Some suggest Vinland may have extended as far south as New York.