Possible second Viking site found in Newfoundland

Point Rosee

Excavations at a site called Point Rosee (shown) in Newfoundland have found hints of Norse presence about 1,000 years ago. 

Greg Mumford; Courtesy of NOVA's "Vikings Unearthed"

Satellite imagery has led archaeologists to what may be the second Viking settlement to have been discovered in North America. Excavations in southern Newfoundland last June yielded preliminary evidence consistent with a roughly 1,000-year-old Norse settlement, investigators announced March 31 in a press release.

Sarah Parcak of the University of Alabama at Birmingham used high-resolution images taken from space to identify a spot where ground disturbances indicated the presence of buried structures. Work at the site, called Point Rosee, revealed remains of turf walls from a Viking-style structure. A small pit next to a boulder and a line of smaller rocks contained pieces of iron ore produced by heating bog iron, metal deposits formed from iron particles carried by rivers into wetlands.

The Norse apparently harvested iron from peat bogs at the only previously identified Viking settlement in North America, also in Newfoundland. Bog ore was used to make nails for Norse vessels.

Preliminary radiocarbon analyses of residue from the Point Rosee fire pit suggest it dates to Viking times, says archaeologist and site coinvestigator Douglas Bolender of the University of Massachusetts Boston. “There’s still a lot of work left to do to confirm a Norse affiliation,” he says.

Satellite images (shown) taken from space revealed signs of buried structures at Point Rosee. Digital Globe; Courtesy of NOVA’s “Vikings Unearthed”

Bruce Bower has written about the behavioral sciences for Science News since 1984. He writes about psychology, anthropology, archaeology and mental health issues.

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