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Markland is the name given to one of three lands on North America's Atlantic shore discovered by Leif Eriksson around 1000 CE. It was located south of Helluland and north of Vinland.

Although it was never recorded to be settled by Norsemen, there were probably a number of later expeditions from Greenland to gather timber.[1] A 1347 Icelandic document records that a ship has come off course and ended up in Iceland in the process of returning from Markland, without further specifying where Markland is.[2]


Markland has been suggested to have been part of the Labrador coast in Canada, as Labrador lies in the heavily forested taiga region of the Northern Hemisphere north of the location of Vinland on the island of Newfoundland. However, the climate and hence the vegetation in this particular region may have changed significantly since the sagas were conceived - see Medieval Warm Period and Little Ice Age.

The particular part of the Labrador coast is difficult to pinpoint, as Helluland has been placed everywhere from Baffin Island to the northern Labrador coast beyond Groswater Bay[3][unreliable source?] to the southern Labrador Coast.

In the sagas

The Saga of the Greenlanders tells that Leif Eriksson set out in the year 1002 or 1003 to follow the route first described by Bjarni Herjólfsson. The first land Eriksson went to was covered with flat rocks (Old Norse: hella). He therefore called it Helluland meaning "Land of the Flat Stones". Next Eriksson came to a land that was flat and wooded, with white sandy beaches, which he called Markland ("Forest Land"). Eriksson's crew cut down trees and took them to Greenland, because Greenland possesses only one small forest and normally relies on driftwood or imports for lumber. The Saga of the Greenlanders also tells of 160 men and women who settled in Markland for winter protection led by Thorfinn Karlsefni (Þorfinnr Karlsefni Þórðarson), c. 1010.[4][5]

The Saga of Erik the Red indicates that Markland is south of Helluland, north of Vinland off Kjalarnes, north-west of an island called Bjarney, and with a country that Karlsefni thinks may be Hvítramannaland somewhere opposite its coast.

See also


  1. The Vinland sagas (National Museum of Natural History, Arctic Studies Center)
  2. Seaver KA. The Frozen Echo. Stanford University Press, 1996. p. 28
  3. Where in North America did the Vikings Settle?
  4. Kraus, Michael & al. The Writing of American History.
  5. Sturlason, Snorre. Heimskringla [The Lives of the Norse Kings].

External links