THE LOCATION of the long-lost "Land of Wine", discovered in North America by the Vikings 1,000 years ago, may at last have been found.
Research by a Swedish archaeologist suggests that the site of Vinland - the far-off place mentioned in the Viking Sagas - was in fact in southern Nova Scotia, at a latitude just 150 miles north of that of modern New York. If he is right, it would almost certainly have been the first European colony in mainland North America.
Up till now most historians have believed that Vinland was located 500 miles further north at the bleak northern tip of Newfoundland - or around the estuary of the Saint Lawrence.
Survey work by archaeologist Dr Mats Larsson of Lund University, Sweden, has, for the first time, pinpointed an area which correlates precisely with the detailed description of Vinland in the Sagas. The region still produces wild grapes.
After combing hundreds of miles of coastline, the Swedish academic believes that the only convincing candidate for the ancient Viking settlement is a small river estuary and bay called Chegoggin ("Great Camp" in the local Indian language) just north of Yarmouth near the southern tip of the Canadian province of Nova Scotia.
The information in the Sagas indicates that the Vinland settlement was on or near an inlet with an unusually large tidal range and a river, navigable only at high tide, which led to an inland lake. The name Vinland also suggests that it had to be in an area warm enough to produce wild grapes. The Chegoggin estuary location matches Vinland on all these criteria and is the only site which does so along the 1,500 miles of Canadian coastline, so far examined by Dr Larssen.
It may also be significant that the Chegoggin estuary is immediately opposite - indeed just 80 miles from - the site on the coast of Maine where a late 11th-century Viking coin and a group of stone implements were found in 1957. The stone tools were not of local origin - and had somehow been brought from more than 1,000 miles further north - from Eskimo northern Labrador and Baffin Island. …