Leif Eriksson Part 1

      Today I learned about Leif Eriksson, the first European to discover America about 500 years before Columbus.

      We know this because of archeology and sagas. Sagas are books that tell history and tales about Vikings. They were written in Ireland. We know these sagas are true because in the 1960’s two archaeologists found a small Norse village in Canada, which was proof that Leif Eriksson had visited North America.

      Incidentally, I have seen Leif Eriksson spelled many different ways — Eriksson, Erikson, Ericson, and Ericsson. For this blog post, I will spell it as Eriksson.

      Leif Eriksson’s father was Erik the Red (also spelled Eric). In 983, when Erik the Red took part in an outbreak of killings, he was forced to leave Iceland for three years. Because of this, Erik the Red decided to set sail when he discovered Greenland. Once the Vikings settled in Greenland, Leif Eriksson wanted to sail west and planned for his father to be in charge of the ship. Instead, his father became injured after riding a horse, and Leif Eriksson was in charge of the ship.

      Leif Eriksson was known as “Leif the Lucky” because he saved some sailors off the coast of Greenland. From Greenland, he sailed west in search of new lands. He found the main part of what is now called North America, becoming the first European to set foot on that continent. Leif called the new land Vinland because of all the wild grapes (or grassy fields) he found there.

      Leif Eriksson traveled with ships that were made of wood, and were the best ships in northern Europe in the 8th century. Before Columbus says that, “On the bow of the ship was a carved dragon. Many Vikings placed these dragon heads on the front of their ships to ward off evil sea spirits. Leif loved the way that it looked, extending out from the tip of the ship to glide over the waves.”

      Tomorrow Part II.

      Sources used:
Before Columbus by Elizabeth Cody Kimmel
Ethnic Chicago by Richard Lindberg
Leif Eriksson by Michael Burgan