1.       Series: What Viking wouldn´t tell you 

Hvalsey mystery

Greenland for many represents only the largest island in the world lying near Canada. But this autonomous island, which is a part of Denmark, is emblazoned with many secrets. Except strange creatures, about which we can hear also from this part of the world, is it also the place of another secret. Secret, which has been lost in time.

Let´s go back in time to the year 985, when was Greenland settled by first group of Vikings´ settlers, who were led by Erik the Red. As informed beforeitsnews.com „the Norse population of Greenland reached between 2,000 and 3,000. They settled in western Greenland, near modern-day Nuuk, and in south-western Greenland, near modern-day Narsaq and Qaqartoq. They traded with Greenlandic Inuit and supplied Europe with Walrus tusks.“

Now we can near city of Qaqortoq find ruins of an old church, which is situated in the fjord of Hvalsey. In this church was held last marriage, about which we have written informations. Marriage was held in 1408, bride was local girl Sigrid Bjornsdatter and husband Torstein Olavsson, who was the captain of ship, which get in Greenland two years before. After this event, we have no news from the island. Settlers abandoned the Island in the late 15th century. 

Why should the whole group decided to leave the island? Initial rumros talked about the reasons stemming from climate cooling and subsequent crop failure or even famine or poverty. There were also ideas that the reasons was the conflicts with Inuits, which started in year 1300. However, as shown by archaeological findings, after climate change settlers haven´t got problems with refocus on seafood, so they had no problem with changing diet or suffering from severe disease. Similarly, if there will be the problem with lack of food, also Inuits will leave the island.

„The mystery of their disappearance is symbolized by the stone church at Hvalsey (...) Lying in meadows at the head of the long, broad, mountain-rimmed fjord, the church commands a gorgeous view over a panorama of dozens of square miles.“
Jared Diamond

If it was some kind of attack, there will be some remains after it. So, what was the reason of leaving the island of Viking settlers? As stated Gunther Stockinger: "The settlers were probably also worried about the increasing loss of their Scandinavian identity. They saw themselves as farmers and ranchers rather than fishermen and hunters. Their social status depended on the land and livestock they owned, but it was precisely these things that could no longer help them produce what they needed to survive." So, the concern of the increasing of lossing identity, but also a decline of interest in trade could be the real reason. As found in the tombs only a few valuables, and the researchers don´t found in the graves remains of younger women, we can think about an enourmous wave of migration from this island. According to the Zdeněk Uherek "by William Petersen is the oldest form of human migration moving of whole family or ethnic groups with full social structure.“ Uherek next states that the aim of migration was to maintain the original living conditions.“ Explanation of maintain the original living conditions while keeping their identity, which resulted in a tremendous migration of entire ethnic groups thus appears to be the most likely explanation. 


BEFORE IT´S NEWS. Unsolved Mystery Where Did Greenland´s Viking Settlers Go. [online]. [cited 3. 1.2015]. Available: http://beforeitsnews.com/strange/2012/11/unsolved-mystery-where-did-greenlands-viking-settlers-go-2445660.html

Greenland, be a pioneer. „Follow the footsteps of the Vikings. The traces of the Vikings are easy to find.“ [online]. [cited 3. 1.2015]. Available: http://www.greenland.com/en/articles/follow-the-footsteps-of-the-vikings/

Gunter Stockinger. Translated from the German by Christopher Sultan. Abandoned Colony in Greenland: Archaeologists Find Clues to Viking Mystery. [online]. [cited 3. 1.2015]. Available: http://www.spiegel.de/international/zeitgeist/archaeologists-uncover-clues-to-why-vikings-abandoned-greenland-a-876626.html

Jared Diamond. Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed - Revised Editions. (London: Penguin Books, 2011)

The Arctic Journal. Shining up Greenland´s windonw on the past. [online]. [cited 4. 1.2015]. Available: http://arcticjournal.com/culture/903/shining-greenlands-window-past

Zdeněk Uherek. Migrace a formy soužití v cílových prostorech. In Tomáš Hirt and Marek Jakoubek (ed.) Soudobé Spory o Multikulturalismu a politiku identit. (Praha: Vydavatelství a nakladatelství Aleš Čeněk, s.r.o., 2005) 


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