‘America’s Lost Vikings’ Archaeologist Blue Nelson Talks About Why Everyone Loves The Vikings

The six-part series delves into just how much of North America the Vikings explored.

Group of vikings are floating on the sea on Drakkar with mountains in the background
Nejron Photo / Shutterstock

The six-part series delves into just how much of North America the Vikings explored.

A new series, America’s Lost Vikings, delves into the Vikings involvement with early American soil. According to the interpretation of some Viking-age literature, the potential is there that the Vikings touched down on American soil as early as 500 years prior to Christopher Columbus. Archaeological evidence also shows that this did happen at L’Anse aux Meadows in Newfoundland, which is on the northeast coast of Canada. Using state-of-the-art science and experimental archaeology, this new series will aim to uncover how much of America was explored by the Vikings.

“The question of just how much of North America the Vikings explored hasn’t been investigated to this degree,” said Marc Etkind, general manager of Science Channel, according to the Hollywood Reporter.

“The latest scientific technology may help us answer just how far they got, where they went and who they encountered.”

America’s Lost Vikings opens at L’Anse aux Meadows in Newfoundland. There is evidence to suggest that Vikings touched down at this location around the year 1000. However, it is here that the trail has seemed to go cold. Other evidence of Viking habitation was never found, indicating to experts that the Vikings may have only touched down briefly and never returned. However, archaeologists and explorers Blue Nelson and Mike Arbuthnot were determined to find out more.

Blue Nelson was also eager to explore this topic because the world seems to have a fascination with the Vikings at the moment. Thanks, in large, to the History Channel series, Vikings, and BBC’s The Last Kingdom, viewers are seeing a different side of the Vikings than was previously known about them. Although, he still believes that their notoriety of being pretty rugged also helps with their public appeal.

“Everybody wants to be a Viking because it’s really bada*s,” Nelson told Clay Today.

“But what’s bada*s about being a farmer? That’s what most of them were. These warriors were generally guys who said, ‘Listen, we have a shelf life in this battle because we have to go deal with our crops.'”

Nelson believes that while Vikings may have touched down on American soil, they didn’t eventually colonize it, seeing it as a resource location more than a place to live. This evidence comes from the Icelandic annals, dated from 1353. While written some 350 years after it was believed the Vikings touched down in North America, Nelson believes that the descriptives and the mundanity of the record indicate that it was a trip regularly done by the Vikings.

“We look at it as a static time. I realize it wasn’t just this moment in time the Vikings came. The Northeast was a resource colony for them. They decided they didn’t have to live there.”

America’s Lost Vikings is currently airing on the Science Channel.