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mindLook After Your Mind No. 12
The Great Continent

According to www.history.com, nearly 500 years before Christopher Columbus was born, a band of Viking explorers set sail westward across the Atlantic. Leader of the band was Leif Eriksson. His father, Erik the Red, founded the first European settlement of Greenland after being expelled from Iceland around AD 985 for killing a neighbour.

Icelandic legends, called sagas, have recorded Eriksson’s exploits in the New World around 1000 AD. Originally passed from generation to generation by word of mouth, before being written down in the 12th and 13th centuries, they give differing accounts of Eriksson’s adventures. The Saga of Erik the Red maintains that he crossed the Atlantic by accident after sailing off course on his return voyage from Norway following his conversion to Christianity. The Saga of the Greenlanders, however, tells us that Eriksson had heard about a virtually unknown land in the west from Icelandic trader Bjarni Herjolfsson, who more than a decade earlier had overshot Greenland and sailed by the shores of North America without setting foot upon it.

Whichever is true, one can imagine that day when Eriksson and his men landed upon a bleak rocky shore in what is present-day Canada (researchers think the location could have been Baffin Island). Eriksson named the place Helluland, Norwegian for Stone Slab Land. Venturing inland, they came upon lush meadows, rivers teeming with salmon and an abundance of wild grapes that were so suited for wine making that Eriksson called the region Vinland (Wineland).
Despite these explorations, the continent remained a vast unknown, though they must have known of the land’s vast potential.

So I think it is with people. When I walk along the High Street what I see of folks is just, as it were, the visible shoreline of a vast unknown continent. Each of us is a living history of experiences:- thoughts, feelings, memories, plans, joys and perhaps tragedies. We exchange a polite good morning and go on our way, maybe never thinking of the wonder and complexity that is a human being.     

Click here to read more articles in the series 'Look After Your Mind' by Steve Bowkett

Steve Bowkett.
Issue 408
January 2019


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