The Vikings (who were actually farmers). Using their well designed and well built long ships they went and raided or explored other lands, travelling even to the USA and Canada over a 1000 years ago.
But at one time, the Vikings settled in Greenland. They became Christians and they farmed and survived there for hundreds of years. They were a democratic society. They had contact with Europe and either exported to Europe or imported many goods from Europe.
Then, mysteriously, they all disappeared. One day some visitors arrived only to find that all the Vikings had left and had abandoned their farms.
What had happened to them?
This is the mystery we will delve into. The answers, as discovered by scientists, are fascinating, sad and shocking.
Here is a short excerpt from a Danish website (Greenland belonged to Denmark for long), where they discuss the influence of Christianity on making the lives of the Vikings in Greenland hard:
Although the presence of the Church had originally uplifted the Greenlanders, it now became their burden. By the middle of the fourteenth century, it owned two-thirds of the island’s finest pastures, and tithes remained as onerous as ever, some of the proceeds going to the support of the Crusades half way around the world and even to fight heretics in Italy. Church authorities, however, found it increasingly difficult to get bishops to come to the distant island. Several clerics took the title, but never actually went there, preferring to bestow their blessings from afar.
The biggest question in the Viking mystery is still unanswered: Where did the people in the region go? How can an entire settlement disappear without a trace?
“It is most likely that they traveled back to their countries of origin, such as Iceland and Norway, but it’s a bit odd that there is not a single story about people who have returned from Greenland. Just as when they came in 985, the Norsemen obviously have emigrated as a large group. The whole group could thus have disappeared in the storm or been caught in the ice, but this is just speculation, “says Antoon Kujpers, senior marine geologist at GEUS.