Skræling (Old Norse and Icelandic: skrælingi, plural skrælingjar) is the name the Norse Greenlanders used for the peoples they encountered in North America and Greenland.In surviving sources, it is first applied to the Thule people, the proto-Inuit group with whom the Norse coexisted in Greenland after about the 13th century. In the sagas, it is also used for the peoples of the region known as Vinland whom the Norse encountered during their expeditions there in the early 11th century.
The word is most likely related to the Old Norse word skrá , meaning "dried skin", in reference to the animal pelts worn by the Inuit.William Thalbitzer (1932: 14) speculated that skræling might have been derived from the Old Norse verb skrækja, meaning "bawl, shout, or yell". In modern Icelandic, skrælingi means "barbarian", whereas the Danish descendant, skrælling , means "weakling".
The term is thought to have first been used by Ari Thorgilsson in his work Íslendingabók , also called The Book of the Icelanders, written well after the period in which Norse explorers made their first contacts with indigenous Americans. By the time these sources were recorded, skræling was the common term Norse Greenlanders used for the Thule people, the ancestors to the modern Inuit. The Thule first arrived in Greenland from the North American mainland in the 13th century and were thereafter in contact with the Greenlanders. The Greenlanders' Saga and the Saga of Erik the Red , which were written in the 13th century, use this same term for the people of the area known as Vinland whom the Norse met in the early 11th century. The word subsequently became well known, and has been used in the English language since the 18th century.
"Kalaallit", the name of the largest ethnic group of Greenlandic Inuit, is likely derived from skræling.In 1750, Paul Egede mentions that the Inuit used "Inuit" between themselves, but used Kalaalit when speaking to non-Inuit people, and that they had mentions that this was the term used by Norse settlers.
Norse exploration of the New World began with the initial sighting of North America by an Icelander named Bjarni Herjólfsson, who spotted land after drifting off course on a journey to Greenland in 985 or 986.
They speculated among themselves as to what land this would be, for Bjarni said he suspected this was not Greenland.
His voyage piqued the interest of later explorers including Leif Eriksson, who would explore and name the areas of Helluland, Markland and Vinland.
Eriksson laid the groundwork for later colonizing efforts in the generations to come by establishing a foothold on Vinland, when he constructed some "large houses." Upon his return to Greenland,
There was great discussion of Leif's Vinland voyage, and his brother Thorvald felt they had not explored enough of the land. Leif then told Thorvald, 'You go to Vinland, brother, and take my ship if you wish, but before you do so I want the ship to make a trip to the skerry to fetch the wood that Thorir had there'
Thorvald has the first contact with the native population which would come to be known as the skrælings. After capturing and killing eight of the natives, they were attacked at their beached ships, which they defended:
'I have been wounded under my arm,' he said. 'An arrow flew between the edge of the ship and the shield into my armpit. Here is the arrow, and this wound will cause my death.'
Thorfinn Karlsefni was the first Norse explorer to attempt to truly colonize the newly discovered land of Vinland on the same site as his predecessors Thorvald and Leif Eriksson. According to the Saga of Erik the Red, he set sail with three ships and 140 men.
Upon reaching Vinland, their intended destination, they found the now famous grapes and self-sown wheat for which the land was named. They spent a very hard winter at this site, where they barely survived by fishing, hunting game inland, and gathering eggs on the island. The following summer they sailed to the island of Hop where they had the first peaceful interactions with the native people, with whom they traded. Karlsefni forbade his men to trade their swords and spears, so they mainly exchanged their red cloth for pelts. Afterwards they were able to describe the aboriginal inhabitants in detail, saying:
They were short in height with threatening features and tangled hair on their heads. Their eyes were large and their cheeks broad.
Shortly thereafter, the Norsemen were attacked by natives who had been frightened by a bull that broke loose from their encampment. They were forced to retreat to an easily defensible location and engage their attackers; at the end of the battle two of his men had been slain, while "many of the natives" were killed. As with anywhere in this foreign land, Karlsefni and his men realized that
despite everything the land had to offer there, they would be under constant threat of attack from its prior inhabitants.
After this adventure, they returned to Greenland. Their three-year excursion would be the longest lasting known European colony in the New World until Columbus's voyages nearly 500 years later initiated full-scale colonization.
There are also accounts from the Inuit peoples which describe interactions with the Norse:
[S]oon the kayaker sent out his spear in good earnest, and killed him on the spot. When winter came, it was a general belief that the Kavdlunait would come and avenge the death of their countrymen
Kavdlunait (plural) was the Inuit word for foreigner or European, compare modern Greenlandic qallunaaq ("Dane"), formerly spelled ĸavdlunâĸ.
Vinland, Vineland or Winland is the area of coastal North America explored by Norse Vikings, where Leif Erikson first landed around AD 1000, approximately five centuries prior to the voyages of Christopher Columbus and John Cabot. Vinland was the name given to North America as far as it was explored by the Norse in the Vinland Sagas, presumably including both Newfoundland and the Gulf of Saint Lawrence as far as northeastern New Brunswick. As many of the features and details of the sagas match present day knowledge of transatlantic travel and North America they are considered to be a reliable historical account. According to the historian Gisli Sigurdsson, 'The sagas are still our best proof that such voyages to the North American continent took place. Coincidence or wishful thinking simply cannot have produced descriptions of topography, natural resources and native lifestyles unknown to people in Europe that can be corroborated in North America.'
The history of Greenland is a history of life under extreme Arctic conditions: currently, an ice sheet covers about 80 percent of the island, restricting human activity largely to the coasts.
Erik Thorvaldsson, known as Erik the Red, was a Norse explorer, described in medieval and Icelandic saga sources as having founded the first settlement in Greenland. He most likely earned the epithet "the Red" due to the color of his hair and beard. According to Icelandic sagas, he was born in the Jæren district of Rogaland, Norway, as the son of Thorvald Asvaldsson. Erik's own son was the well-known Icelandic explorer Leif Erikson.
Leif Erikson, Leiv Eiriksson or Leif Ericson was a Norse explorer from Iceland. He is thought to have been the first known European to have set foot on continental North America, approximately half a millennium before Christopher Columbus. According to the sagas of Icelanders, he established a Norse settlement at Vinland, which is usually interpreted as being coastal North America. There is ongoing speculation that the settlement made by Leif and his crew corresponds to the remains of a Norse settlement found in Newfoundland, Canada, called L'Anse aux Meadows and which was occupied c. 1000. Later archaeological evidence suggests that Vinland may have been the areas around the Gulf of St. Lawrence and that the L'Anse aux Meadows site was a ship repair station.
Freydís Eiríksdóttir was a Norse woman said to be the daughter of Erik the Red, who is associated with the Norse exploration of North America and the discovery of Vinland with his son Leif Erikson. The only medieval and primary sources that mention Freydís are the two Vinland sagas: the Greenland saga and the Saga of Erik the Red. The two sagas offer differing accounts, though Freydís is portrayed in both as a masculine, strong-willed woman who would defy the odds of her society.
Gudrid Thorbjarnardóttir was an Icelandic explorer, born at Laugarbrekka in Snæfellsnes, Iceland.
The Norse colonization of North America began in the late 10th century CE when Norsemen explored and settled areas of the North Atlantic including the northeastern fringes of North America. Remains of Norse buildings were found at L'Anse aux Meadows near the northern tip of Newfoundland in 1960. This discovery aided the reignition of archaeological exploration for the Norse in the North Atlantic.
Eiríks saga rauða or the Saga of Erik the Red is a saga on the Norse exploration of North-America. The original saga is thought to have been written in the 13th century. The saga is preserved in two manuscripts in somewhat different versions; Hauksbók and Skálholtsbók.
Markland is the name given to one of three lands on North America's Atlantic shore discovered by Leif Eriksson around 1000 AD. It was located south of Helluland and north of Vinland.
Helluland is the name given to one of the three lands, the others being Vinland and Markland, seen by Bjarni Herjólfsson, encountered by Leif Erikson and further explored by Þorfinnr "Karlsefni" Þórðarson around AD 1000 on the North Atlantic coast of North America. As some writers refer to all land beyond Greenland as Vinland, Helluland is sometimes considered a part of Vinland.
Thorvald Eiriksson was the son of Erik the Red and brother of Leif Erikson. The only Medieval Period source material available regarding Thorvald Eiriksson are the two Vinland sagas; the Greenland Saga and the Saga of Erik the Red. Although differing in various detail, according to both sagas Thorvald was part of an expedition for the exploration of Vinland and became the first European to die in North America.
Thorfinn Karlsefni was an Icelandic explorer. Around the year 1010 AD, he followed Leif Eriksson's route to Vinland, in a short-lived attempt to establish a permanent settlement there with his wife Guðríður Víðförla Þorbjarnardóttir and their followers.
The Vinland Sagas are two Icelandic texts written independently of each other in the early 13th century—The Saga of the Greenlanders and The Saga of Erik the Red,. The sagas were written down between 1220 and 1280, much later than the initial time of action 970–1030.
Grœnlendinga saga is one of the sagas of Icelanders. Along with Saga of Erik the Red, it is one of the two main literary sources of information for the Norse exploration of North America. It relates the colonization of Greenland by Erik the Red and his followers. It then describes several expeditions further west led by Erik's children and Þorfinnr "Karlsefni" Þórðarson.
The Ice-Shirt is a 1990 historical novel by American author William T. Vollmann. It is the first book in a seven-book series called Seven Dreams: A Book of North American Landscapes.
Thorstein Eiriksson was the third and youngest son of Erik the Red.
Leifsbudir was a settlement, mentioned in the Greenland Saga, founded by Leif Eriksson in 1000 or 1001 in Vinland.
Herjolfsnes was a Norse settlement in Greenland, 50 km northwest of Cape Farewell. It was established by Herjolf Bardsson in the late 10th century and is believed to have lasted some 500 years. The fate of its inhabitants, along with all the other Norse Greenlanders, is unknown. The site is known today for having yielded remarkably well-preserved medieval garments, excavated by Danish archaeologist Paul Norland in 1921. Its name roughly translates as Herjolf's Point or Cape.
Thorfinn Karlsefni was the first Norse explorer to arrive in Canada, the newly discovered land of Vinland on the same site as his predecessors Thorvald and Leif Eriksson. According to the Saga of Erik the Red, he set sail with three ships and 140 men.