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Skraelings: The Viking name for people from Greenland

Creation date: Aug 17, 2022 7:26am     Last modified date: Aug 17, 2022 7:26am   Last visit date: Jun 23, 2024 1:55pm
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Aug 17, 2022  ( 1 post )  
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Skraeling is the word that the Norse (Vikings) settlers of Greenland and the Canadian Arctic gave to their direct competition during their westward wanderings from their homeland. Norse people had nothing good to say about the people they met: skraelings meant "small men" or "barbarians" in Icelandic, and in Norse historical records, people Skiers are called poor merchants , primitive people who are easily frightened. off by Viking power.

Archaeologists and historians now believe that the "skiers" were more likely members of one or more Arctic hunter-gatherer cultures that were extremely well adapted to the Arctic such as Canada, Greenland, Labrador, and Newfoundland. : Dorset, Thule and/or Point Revenge . These cultures were certainly much more successful than the Norse people of most of North America.

There is an island called Skraeling Island with Thule occupation located off the coast of Ellesmere Island. That site contains 23 Thule Inuit house ruins, multiple tent loops, kayak and umiak racks, and pantry, and it was occupied in the 13th century. Of course, naming the island is not. neither endorses nor disputes Thule's identity with the Skraelings.

Nordic movements of the late 9th century


Archaeological and historical evidence suggests that the Vikings settled Iceland around AD 870, settled Greenland around 985, and landed in Canada around 1000. In Canada, the Norse people are said to have landed on the island. Baffin, Labrador and Newfoundland, and all those areas occupied by the Dorset, Thule and Point Revenge cultures around that time. Unfortunately, radiocarbon dating is not precise enough to determine exactly how long the culture occupied which part of North America at which point.

Part of the problem is that all three cultures were arctic hunter-gatherers , which moved seasonally to hunt for different resources at different times of the year. They spend part of the year hunting reindeer and other land mammals, and part of the year fishing and hunting seals and other marine mammals. Each culture has its own unique artifacts, but because they occupy the same places, it is difficult to know for sure that a culture is more than simply reusing the artifacts of another culture. other chemical.

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Dorset culture


The most convincing evidence is the presence of Dorset artifacts combined with Nordic artifacts. The Dorset culture lived in the Canadian Arctic and parts of Greenland between ~500 BC and 1000 AD. Dorset artefacts, most notably the flimsy Dorset oil lamp, are no doubt found at the Norse settlement of L'anse aux Meadows in Newfoundland; and several other Dorset sites that seem to contain Nordic artefacts. Park (quoted below) argues that there is evidence that L'anse aux Meadows artefacts may have been recovered by Norse people from a nearby Dorset site, and that other artefacts may have of the same origin and therefore may not necessarily represent direct contact.

Features believed to be "Nordic" around AD 1000 in North America are yarn or rope spun, human carvings depicting European facial features, and artefacts wooden work embodying Nordic style techniques. All of these are problematic. Textiles were known in the Americas in antiquity and could easily have been linked to cultures from the northern United States. The similarity of human carving and stylistic design is conjecture by definition; Furthermore, several "European-style" faces that predate the Nordic colonial period are safely documented and documented.

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Thule and Point Revenge

The Thules have long been considered the likely colonists of eastern Canada and Greenland, and are known to have traded with the Vikings in the Sandhavn trading community of southwestern Greenland. But recent resettlement of the Thule migration suggests that they did not leave the Bering Strait until about 1200 AD and, although they rapidly spread eastward to the Canadian Arctic and Greenland, they were too late to reach L'anse aux Meadows. meeting with Leif Ericson. Thule cultural features disappeared around 1600 AD. It is still possible that the Thules were the people who shared Greenland with the Norse after 1300 or so - if such an uneasy relationship could be called "sharing".

Finally, Point Revenge is the archaeological name for the material culture of the direct ancestors of the people who lived in the area from 1000 AD to the early 16th century. Like Thule and Dorset, they were in the right place. at the right time; but safe evidence supporting cultural connections is lacking.

Key point

All sources clearly link the skiers to the ancestors of the Inuit people of North America, including Greenland and the Canadian Arctic; but whether the particular culture exposed is Dorset, Thule or Point Revenge, or all three, we may never know.

The reasons for Viking expansion outside Scandinavia are debated among scholars. Suggested reasons include demographic pressure, political pressure, and personal enrichment. The Vikings could never have begun to attack or really settle beyond Scandinavia if they had not developed highly effective boat building and maneuvering skills; The skill was proven by the 4th century AD. At the time of expansion, the Scandinavian countries experienced a concentration of power, with fierce competition.