A ccording to surveys in the United States the vast majority of peoples still believe its was the Italian Cristoforo Colombo, Christopher Columbus, that „discovered“ America. While „discovering“ is misleading since lots of peoples lived in America at the time the honor is misplaced. It was an Icelander that arrived in America centuries before the Italian.
Scholars and well read people might know the story. Leifur Eiriksson, born on Eiriksstadir farm in Haukadal in the western part of Iceland led a team of vikings from Greenland to Newfoundland in a basic longboat ages before anyone named Colombus had the faintest idea.
Leifur, Leif in English, was pretty well traveled but had never seen grapes before arriving in high summer in L´Anxe aux Meadows in modern day Canada. True to viking form he promptly named the country Wineland or Vinland in Icelandic and left shortly thereafter. Then the discovery was forgotten for centuries giving a certain Colombus a hero´s status in lots of places for happening upon the continent five centuries later.
it has never be proved beyond all doubt that Leifur and his team actually landed in America
Truth be told it has never be proved beyond all doubt that Leifur and his team actually landed in America. It has not even been proven conclusively that Leifur was born in Iceland at all. In any case, he and his family probably left Iceland for Greenland from where Leifur sailed south to America years later.
That does not stop locals in Iceland from bragging about it and absolutely swearing Leifur was born here and bred. Perhaps he was and perhaps he was not. Either case there is a museum of sorts celebrating his achievements at the place of his birth at Eiriksstadir. Locals have rebuilt a turf building resembling viking dwellings at the time. Inside a show of artifacts and a viking show to boot in summertime.
As places go in Iceland this is not the most spellbinding area to explore and it is some way off the Ring Road circling the country but should viking history and the story of Leif matter to you then by all means make the detour.
More details about Eiriksstadir here but keep in mind there is a strong touristy scent of things done here nowadays.
Sjá Birthplace of Leif the lucky in Iceland á stærra korti