Sunday, February 1, 2015

Newfoundland’s Viking Ghost Ship

At the furthest remote northern tip of Newfoundland 1000 years ago, Vikings once the nomads of the North Atlantic, established a settlement.

This area is called L’Anse aux Meadows meaning “Jellyfish Cove.”

A Norse sod longhouse recreated
at L'Anse aux Meadows
The local residents today make their living from fishing. They use small boats with hand lines to catch their fish. It is difficult backbreaking work.

In more recent years the area has also experienced an economic boom from summer tourism.

The Vikings

The Vikings were warriors just like their Gods. The term Viking is just a general name for Nordic speaking people who came from southern Scandinavia.

The Vikings were explorers that made their way west in the 11th century first to Iceland then to Greenland and finally to Newfoundland.

Fierce Viking raiders
They had 3 goals. The first was to find new victims to raid-- they attacked, plundered and departed quickly. They were successful in this endeavor for the most part because of the efficiency and speed of their ships and in part because of the sharp-iron weapons they used.

Along with these raids they were also looking for new trade partners and new places to settle.

Strange Sights

A favorite legend that is told in L'Anse aux Meadows is about how a Viking ghost ship appears every 30 years. Sightings of this ship is considered to be a good omen or harbinger.

One mid August the local fishermen were celebrating for they had experienced a “good catch.” It was the best of the season. They had returned home with their boats full.

A lone fisherman stayed late into the evening gutting the fish he had caught. Suddenly outside his shack he heard a strange noise.

It sounded like paddles hitting the water in unison. These oars were making a loud splashing sound. At first, he didn’t see anything but he then heard the sound of a horn being blown.

He moved to the door and spotted a vessel moving toward the dock. It was odd in appearance--he had never seen anything like it before.

It was a long, narrow open boat with one central mast. It had a striped sail and on either side he saw oars dipping into the water quickly.

Viking Ship
He watched confused as it came closer and closer and then just vanished. Word spread about what he had seen but no one knew where this vessel came from or where it had gone.

Several months after, the man discovered a drawing in a book that looked very similar to what he had seen. It was a drawing of a boat that had been used by the Vikings 1000 years before.

Thirty years after this initial sighting, two lazy young teens learned where an old fisherman had hidden his whiskey. One night they broke into his shed.

Just as they found his bottle they heard a loud noise coming from the water outside. They hesitated worried they were about to be discovered.

They heard the water splashing forcefully--it sounded like a large group of oars dipping into the water. They looked out a side window and saw a ship approaching.

They left immediately but once outside they stood transfixed by a strange sight. Before them was a long ship, it turned and headed toward where they stood. It then vanished.

They were so frightened by this time they left the whiskey behind as they fled the dock.

These two teens did not tell anyone what they had seen for a long time but eventually word spread about the strange ship they had seen in the harbor.

The locals realized these two young men had seen the same Viking ship on the same day as the sighting from 30 years before--August 15th. They felt the first time this ship had brought “good tidings.” Now they felt it had once more helped out--for it had saved the old fisherman’s whiskey.

This was not the last time this strange Viking ship was seen for 30 years later on August 15th the local fisherman returned with another bountiful catch.

One fisherman among this group decided to stay out in his boat a little longer--he felt he could catch even more fish. But as the sky clouded and the weather turned he decided to head for the safety of the harbor.

But his motor would not turn on. He checked the fuel and all the engine connections but everything seemed to be in order. Suddenly he heard a loud noise in the water.

It sounded like oars dipping into the water every 5 seconds. He looked in the direction of the sound and spotted a huge Viking ship bearing down on him.

This ship was on a collision course with his smaller vessel. At the last moment just when it seemed the ship would ram his boat he heard the sound of a horn blowing, it sounded like a battle call.

The Viking ship then vanished right in front of him. He stated later a strong sense of wellbeing overtook him. He went back inside his wheelhouse and the motor started immediately.


It is still a mystery why this ship appears every 30 years and on the same day but the locals don’t mind.

Here is a video that demonstrates what multiple oars sound like when they hit the water.

2 comments:

Randy Taylor said...

So what year is fhe next sighting supposed to be?

Virginia Lamkin said...

I often share legends to entertain my readers. This one is more legend than true haunting.