The Vikings lived in Margaree! It’s a great theory
-by Rankin MacDonald
Attending the Viking Symposium were Del Muise, Steve Voluckas, Terry Deveau, David Richeson, Murdena Marshall and Bill Danielson.
As Star Trek’s Spock would say, “Fascinating!”
The large crowd, to a person, found the symposium held on Saturday at the Belle Côte Community Centre just that, fascinating.
The topic was Vinland.
Did the Norse settle in Cape Breton, possibly along the Margaree River?
It has been proven that the Norse reached North America around 1000 AD. In the 1960s, Helge Ingstad found a Norse settlement at L’Anse aux Meadows in Newfoundland, but on four of the six Norse voyages they reached Vinland, Lief Ericksson’s camp, and there is some scholarly speculation that it could have been in Cape Breton or eastern Nova Scotia and maybe even along the Margaree River.
Del Muise of East Margaree who organized the symposium welcomed everyone.
He said ten years ago he attended a Viking symposium, and there was no mention of the Norse coming to Cape Breton.
But a year ago, Steve Voluckas, New England Antiquities Research Association, came to Muise with the notion that the Norse did settle in the Margarees which resulted in this symposium.
Steve Voluckas has done a great deal of research on the Norse expeditions and believes that the Norse came here, encountered the Mi’kmaq, traded milk and cheese for furs and then left when something went wrong.
Both cultures have strong oral histories, and the more he looked into the Norse saga the more he believed that the descriptions sounded like Cape Breton.
Seven years ago as he himself explored the Cape Breton coast “all the pieces began to fall into place.”
He believes eastern Nova Scotia was Vinland, but there has been little followup in trying to put the “puzzle” together.
He wrote a book on the subject, Crossing Paths, Crossing the Atlantic.
Voluckas believes the Norse came to St. Paul’s Island and then down the Cape Breton coast to a coastal plain where it was very desirable to stay.
They repaired a keel at Cape North.
Is the footprint in the mud at Dingwall a Norse imprint?
Murdena Marshall, Mi’kmaq studies, Cape Breton University, retired, spoke of Cape Breton being her spiritual home. She doesn’t have to travel to find her roots.
She lamented that the children are losing the ability to talk to the creator in their own language.
But she was visited by Finnish students, and she showed them a game passed down in her family, and this game also is played in Finland.
“We gave it to you,” she told them.
Marshall also spoke about the red-bearded Mi’kmaq, something extremely unusual for her people.
Bill Danielson, North Highlands Community Museum, University of Hartford, retired, spoke of how the climate was here 1000 years ago.
He pointed out that the weather back then was much the same as it is today with sugar maples and fox grapes abundant, which is not the case with Newfoundland.
David Richeson, Canadian Museum of Science and Technology, retired, spoke about the Viking occupation of Greenland.
They arrived to an uninhabited land. The Inuit left because of the weather 800 years before, and eventually the Vikings left when the weather changed, the land was overgrazed, trade stopped and the wood was no more. The Inuit returned.
The last speaker of the day was Terry Deveau, NS Archaeology Society and NEARA, who discussed the mystery of the Tor Bay axe.
Discussions followed, and Muise hopes to set up a heritage society to discuss future directions in Vikings and other local history.
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