Inuit and Vikings

Millennia of Myth and Saga

Hunters of the North
The first traces of people in Greenland date back to 2500 BC, when hunters followed the trail of musk oxen from North America to Greenland. These early cultures developed sophisticated tools and ways of living, which enabled them as the first people to withstand the extreme Arctic climate on a permanent basis.

About a 1,000 years ago Inuit - the human beings - brought the Thule culture from the Bering Strait to Greenland with techniques and technology that is still in use today - the kayak, the dog sledge, the harpoon.

During the long winter nights a vivid mythical world would come alive through storytelling, drum dancing and carvings. Did you for instance know, that all sea mammals nest in the hair of The Mother of the Sea"? And that every time a person does wrong, her hair will filter and eventually all the animals will be trapped. In the old days this meant hunger if a skilled shaman did not succeed in finding her house and comb her hair to set the animals free!

Vikings of the Arctic
About the same time that the Inuit started their journey from the Bering Strait to Greenland, a young Viking called Erik the Red led a group of settlers from Iceland to South Greenland and founded the Norse settlements in Greenland. It was from this starting point that Leif Eriksson, son of Erik, discovered, explored and overwintered in North America as the first European.

The Norse formed a society in Greenland that lasted 500 years on farming, fishing and hunting. They build the first Christian church in the Western Hemisphere, explored the high Arctic and harvested wood from North America. Around 1480 AD the Norse disappeared, leaving only ruins and remains and the mystery of what really happened.

Today Greenlandic sheep farmers have resettled on the Norse farmland, using the same fields that were cleared by Vikings a 1000 years ago!