Episode 17a – The Saga of the Greenlanders


Once again, the New World beckons.  In this episode, we travel with the children of Eirik the Red to Vinland.  Yes, every single one of Eirik’s children make their own expedition to North America in search of fame and fortune.  This saga covers each of them.  Leif Eiriksson is the first of his siblings to make the trip, but he’s not the first Viking to spot land in the New World.  According to this saga, that honor goes to Bjarni Herjolfsson (if you call it an honor, since he’s later made fun of for not disembarking and checking things out).  Where’s that spirit of adventure, Bjarni? That said, Bjarni may be wiser than we think, given how the journey turns out for most of the Viking explorers of Vinland.  Find out what happens when the Vikings meet the skraelings in the New World as Saga Thing takes on The Saga of the Greenlanders.

The Vinland Sagas (Penguin Classics)

If all of this sounds familiar, that’s because we already traveled to Vinland and discovered America way back in episode 4 when Saga Thing covered The Saga of Eirik the Red.  You’d be wise to refresh your memory by listening to that one again, since The Saga of the Greenlanders is best enjoyed as a companion to The Saga of Eirik the Red.  You may also be interested in our supplementary post from that episode about Norsemen in the New World.
This episode also features Andy’s most ridiculous brief summary.  He apologizes in advance.  He was no doubt tired and pressed for time.

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Update (05/07/2016)

Received some interesting insights from our listener William about the tip jet winds off of Cape Farewell in Greenland and their potential role in the Vikings discovery of North America.  Wish we had known about this when we recorded.  Thanks, William!

Here are some relevant articles on the subject:

Moore, G.W.K., R.S. Pickart, and I.A. Renfrew. “Buoy Observations from the Windiest Location in the World Ocean, Cape Farewell, Greenland.” Geophysical Research Letters 35.18 (2008): 1-5.

Renfrew, I.A., et al. “The Greenland Flow Distortion Experiment”  Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society 89.9 (2008): 1307-24.

Summary of the findings in New Scientist from 4 September 2008
Cape Farewell Tip Jet

5 thoughts on “Episode 17a – The Saga of the Greenlanders

  1. Pingback: Episode 4 – Eirik the Red’s Saga | Saga Thing

  2. I think you might have explained just how condescending the word ‘scraeling’ is!
    It basically means ‘weaklings’. My grandfather used basically the same word for newborn pigs that where too sickly to live (and were immediately put out of their misery)


    • Just got up to the judgements where you mention it. The word was still used in the 1800’s about Greenland inuit with no ambiguity: It was almost as bad as using the N word with two g’s about a black person (which nobody had any qualms about at the time either…)


  3. Sorry, binge-listening here: In some earlier episode you talk about the lapps, can’t remember which.
    This also is not a nice designation: Lapp means literally patch, so ‘Lapps’ means ‘People with patched/poor clothes’. They call themselves sami and if you meet one today don’t talk about lapps 🙂
    They’ve had a tough time as all nomadic people getting forced out of their ancestral grazing grounds by aggressive farming/settling people.
    In the early medieval times they were a great nation, according to some history I’ve read they were much in demand as navigators and for casting spells


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