View from Ravnefjeldet, next to Nanortalik, Greenland
982-985Erik the Red explores and names Greenland, after being outlawed for three years on account of manslaughter in Iceland.
986Southern Greenland is settled by Erik the Red as he leads the first settlers from Iceland. Erik the Red settles in Brattahlid (today’s Qassiarsuk) which becomes the center of the Eastern Settlement.
986-1000More settlers arrive from Scandinavia and they gradually settle the Southwest coast of Greenland from Cape Farewell to present-day Nuuk. The Norse population center around two major settlements, the Western and the Eastern.
1000Leif Eriksson, son of Erik the Red, returns to Greenland from Norway, bringing along the first Christian missionary. Soon hereafter, the first Christian church on the North American continent, Thjódhildur’s Church, is built at Brattahlid.
Around 1000Leif Eriksson discovers and names land in present-day Canada: Helluland, Markland and Vinland. Thus, he becomes the first person of European origin ever to set foot on the North American mainland.
1124-26Greenland becomes a diocese of its own. The episcopal residence is placed at Gardar (present-day Igaliku) close to Brattahlid (today’s Qassiarsuk).
1261Following the example of Iceland, the Greenlandic Parliament acknowledges the Norwegian King’s supremacy and right to claim taxes.
1350-60Ivar Bardarsson, an Icelandic clerical official, reports the Western Settlement abandoned.
Inuit begin to appear near the Norse areas, settling along the coastline.
1370-The trade between Norway and Greenland gradually declines. The vital trade reaches a critical minimum by the loss of the Greenland-Knarr, the trade vessel used for Greenland, in approximately 1380.
1397The Norwegian, Swedish and Danish kingdoms merge into the Kalmar Union. The supremacy and tax claims of Greenland are hereafter handled by the Danish court.
1408A wedding is held at Hvalsey Church. This is the last written record of Greenland’s Norse population.
1480-1500The Norse population of Greenland disappears.

Erik the Red – Leif Eriksson’s father.
In the 960s Erik the Red, a fiery Norwegian, was exiled from his home in Norway. He went to Iceland, where he married Thjodhildur. He was later banished from there for three years. Erik headed west and discovered a land with an inviting fjord landscape and fertile, green valleys. He was greatly impressed by the land’s resources, and he returned to Iceland and spoke about this land, which he called “the green land”.
In 986 he set out from Iceland at the head of 25 ships, heading for Greenland. There were 500 men and women on board. Of the 25 ships only 14 reached their destination.
The Vikings founded Brattahlid and the two hamlets of Vesterbygden and Østerbygden. Around the year 1000 the population was approx. 3,000, living in 300-400 farms. This small community survived for 500 years. Why they disappeared is still a great mystery.
Viking settlement in Newfoundland.
The oldest known European colony in the New World is the Viking settlement of L’Anse-aux-Meadows in northwest Newfoundland, Canada. After excavations of 2,400 Viking objects there is no longer any doubt that the Vikings discovered America long before Columbus.
Under sail.
The sailing ship was the Vikings’ great passion and also the reason for their huge expansion across the whole of Europe. None of the Viking expeditions, however, have had a bigger impact on the future than the voyages to Greenland and America.
Inuit and Vikings.
For several hundred years the Vikings lived side by side with the Inuit, who came to Greenland 4,500 years ago. A mini ice age may have caused the Vikings to leave or perhaps they succumbed to the harsh living conditions. We don’t know for certain, and the Vikings’ disappearance is still shrouded in great mystery. They left many things behind, however, that have made it possible to form an impression of their homes and way of life.

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