Archaeologists uncover another potential Viking site in Newfoundland

Dr Sarah Parcak in Point Rosee

With the help of satellite imagery, archaeologists have uncovered what appears to be a second Viking site on the coast of Newfoundland.

The site is located on Point Rosee, near the small community of Codroy, Newfoundland, and is about 600 kilometres away from the first settlement, which was discovered decades ago on the province’s northern tip.

The first discovery rewrote history, and lead researcher, Sarah Parcak, says this new site could unravel even more secrets about the Vikings, like whether they explored further into North America than once thought.

After combing through satellite imagery for hot spots, viewing hundreds of sites along North America’s eastern seaboard, Parcak’s team saw promise in Point Rosee. High-resolution scans, which showed “a dark stain with buried rectilinear features,” sent the team to the southern part of the province to search for artifacts last summer.

After surveying the region, Parcak’s team found turf walls, a Norse-style hearth, and traces of  bog iron, a form of impure iron deposit that develops in bogs or swamps. This is especially strong evidence of a Norse presence, since most iron of the Viking era was smelted from bog iron and no indigenous peoples have been known to use this technique.

“It’s either a new culture that looks and presents exactly like Norse, or Norse,” Parcak told CBC News. “But obviously we have a lot of work left in front of us before we can say beyond a shadow of a doubt that it is.”

What she is sure of, though, is that it cannot be called a settlement: “If it is Norse, the most we can say right now is that it’s a small farm or perhaps a temporary winter camp.”

If more research does confirm Vikings’ presence, Point Rosee will be the second confirmed site in all of North America. The first site at L’Anse aux Meadows was discovered in the 1960s and took years to verify.

But Birgitta Wallace, who was part of the excavation team at L’Anse aux Meadows, isn’t convinced. She told CBC News in an email that she’s not sure the turf walls at Point Rosee are an exact match, and says the roasting of the ore could be accidental.

“All it would take is a campfire on the ground where the soil is full of bog ore,” she said. “Such areas are common in Newfoundland.”

Parcak and her team are still searching for more definitive evidence. They’re planning to return to Point Rosee this summer, and Parcak hopes they find more metal-working, carbon-dating that coincides with the Viking era, and maybe even a Norse-specific object.

Still, locals are thrilled by the prospect of the site.

Resident Roger Fowlow lives just three kilometres away, and thinks that if it’s confirmed, it will put southwest Newfoundland “on the map.”

Claudelle Devoe, who rents cottages in the area, told CBC that people tend to pass through, but rarely stay. She says the discovery could give tourists a reason to explore the region.

“It’s massive for our area. Great for tourism, for the economy, the whole southwest coast in Newfoundland,” Devoe said. “It will definitely attract more tourists to our area.”