Archaeological excavation at the site was conducted in the 1960s by an international team led by archaeologist Anne Stine Ingstad (Helge Ingstad's wife) and under the direction of Parks Canada of the Government of Canada in the 1970s. Following each period of excavation, the site was reburied to protect and conserve the cultural resources.
The settlement at L'Anse aux Meadows has been dated to approximately 1,000 years ago, an assessment that tallies with the relative dating of artifact and structure types. The remains of eight buildings were located. They are believed to have been constructed of sod placed over a wooden frame. Based on associated artifacts, the buildings were variously identified as dwellings or workshops. The largest dwelling measured 28.8 by 15.6 m (94.5 by 51 ft) and consisted of several rooms. Workshops were identified as an iron smithy containing a forge and iron slag, a carpentry workshop, which generated wood debris, and a specialized boat repair area containing worn rivets. Besides those related to iron working, carpentry, and boat repair, other artifacts found at the site consisted of common everyday Norse items, including a stone oil lamp, a whetstone, a bronze fastening pin, a bone knitting needle, and part of a spindle. The presence of the spindle and needle suggests that women were present as well as men. Food remains included butternuts, which are significant because they do not grow naturally north of New Brunswick, and their presence probably indicates the Norse inhabitants travelled farther south to obtain them. Archaeologists concluded that the site was inhabited by the Norse for a relatively short period of time.
The park has a living history program, featuring iron-age implements, which was designed by Darrell Markewitz of Wareham, Ontario.
Remains of Norse settlement building, 2010
Reenactment of a landing at L'Anse aux Meadows, 2000
Entrance of reconstructed Norse sod house
Entrance construction from inside, 2006
Inside of reconstruction sod house
Reconstructed boat at L'Anse-aux-Meadows, 2002
Small boat reconstruction
In addition to the European settlement, evidence of at least five or six separate native occupations has been identified at L'Anse aux Meadows, the oldest dated at roughly 6,000 years ago; none was contemporaneous with the Norse occupation. The most prominent of these earlier occupations were by the Dorset people, who predated the Norse by about 200 years.
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