View From Space Hints at a New Viking Site in North America – New York Times

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Douglas Bolender, left, and Sarah H. Parcak, right, looking for evidence of a Viking presence in Point Rosee, Newfoundland. If confirmed, the site would be the second known Viking settlement in North America.  Credit Greg Mumford

A thousand years after the Vikings braved the icy seas from Greenland to the New World in search of timber and plunder, satellite technology has found intriguing evidence of a long-elusive prize in archaeology — a second Norse settlement in North America, further south than ever known.

The new Canadian site, with telltale signs of iron-working, was discovered last summer after infrared images from 400 miles in space showed possible man-made shapes under discolored vegetation. The site is on the southwest coast of Newfoundland, about 300 miles south of L’Anse aux Meadows, the first and so far only confirmed Viking settlement in North America, discovered in 1960.

Since then, archaeologists, following up clues in the histories known as thesagas, have been hunting for the holy grail of other Viking, or Norse, landmarks in the Americas that would have existed 500 years before Columbus, to no avail.

But last year, Sarah H. Parcak, a leading space archaeologist working with Canadian experts and the science series NOVA for a two-hour television documentary, “Vikings Unearthed,” that will be aired on PBS next week, turned her eyes in the sky on coastlines from Baffin Island, west of Greenland, to Massachusetts. She found hundreds of potential “hot spots” that high-resolution aerial photography narrowed to a handful and then one particularly promising candidate — “a dark stain” with buried rectilinear features.

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Here the Vikings Worshiped Thor and Odin

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Viking Heathen Hof Ranheim

Drawing of the place of worship at Ranheim discovered in 2010. (Photo: Preben Rønne, NTNU University Museum).

We still know little about how and where the Vikings worshiped their Norse gods, but a few findings show that religious rituals took place in holy places with processional roads, altars and houses of worship.

Only few remains of heathen hofs are found in Scandinavia, but in 2010 it was by chance discovered an almost complete place of worship at Ranheim, about ten kilometers north of Trondheim in Central Norway.

The discovery revealed a processional road, a round sacrificial altar of stone (Old Norse: hǫrgr) and a house of worship (Old Norse: hof). The wooden building contained traces of four poles that may have had carved faces of Thor, Odin, Freyr and Freyja.

The altar measured fifteen meters in diameter and was about one meter high.

A few meters away, a…

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Daily Hávamál from Huginn’s Heathen Hof – Stanza 69

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Original-
Erat maðr alls vesall
þótt hann sé illa heill
sumr er af sonum sæll
sumr af frændum
sumr af fé œrnu
sumr af verkum vel

Translation-
No one is without worth
even if they have poor health
some have many children
others have many friends,
and some have
accomplished great deeds
worthy of honor.
-Hávamál: Stanza 69

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The Norns

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(The three Norns by LucreciaMortishia at DeviantArt)

There may be other Norns, but three are identified by name by Old Norse sources, e.g. Snorri Sturluson’s interpretation of the Völuspá and Helgakviða Hundingsbana I.

Urðr (fate), Verðandi (present) and Skuld (future) are three Jötnar (giants or Ettin) who spin and weave the fate of every Nordic person at birth and every Nordic Holy Power.

Each morning they come out from a hall standing at the Well of Urðr (well of fate). They draw water from the well and take sand that lies around it, which they pour over Yggdrasill so that its branches will not rot.