Simon_Jester wrote:From what I believe we already know, it's safe to conclude that the Norse voyaged to America from Greenland on multiple occasions, sometimes going there to harvest timber (which was unavailable in Greenland). If they found bog iron I'm not surprised they'd try to refine it, since iron wasn't available in Greenland either to the best of my knowledge.
Greenland had iron FROM SPACE!!!
Seriously - one of the world's largest iron meteorites, or at least chunks of meteorite, off Cape York. The usually stone age natives actually had some iron, cold-forging it and using for things like harpoon tips.
There is the question of whether or not the Vikings
knew about that iron - they and the Inuit weren't exactly close. Also, not exactly conveniently located, and very heavy. Late 19th Century technology took three years to move some of it from it's location to the shore for transport to museums.
Sea Skimmer wrote:Its safe to assume they went further then we knew, but not vastly further, and certainly not on a regular or sustained basis. The reason for that is pretty simple, disease. While one cannot define a exact threshold for it easily, if the Vikings had really extensive contact with North America they would have spread the diseases that would instead only appear ~450 years later when we suspect Grand Banks fishermen actually reached the mainland and began a wave of plagues about ~20 years before Columbus sailed.
Iceland, and even more so Greenland, were sufficiently isolated from mainland Europe that the diseases that later became plagues in North America were uncommon on those islands. Measles, for example, was not endemic to Iceland and decades would go without cases, so when the disease did reach the island there were actual epidemics with higher-than-European mortality rates. The epidemics of 1842 and 1882 were particularly notable. These epidemics were sufficiently debilitating to the islands that they wouldn't be sending any ships to Vinland until everyone had recovered.
The result is that Norse that started in Iceland and then went to Greenland and then went to Vinland were sufficiently distant from crowd-disease contact that they wouldn't be passing it on in Vinland. The Grand Banks fishing that took place from the 1500's hand fishermen coming more directly from Europe who were more likely to carry infectious diseases.