Leif Ericson Viking Ship Norseman

Spring 2000 Vol. 8 No. 2



Thanks to the persistent efforts of many Leif Ericson boosters, publicity has been generous this year about Vikings in North America. As we go to press, Time magazine, in its May 8 edition, features a story on Vikings. A Viking on the cover, an eight page spread with many maps and illustrations, and a well written and accurate article will go far in informing all Americans about the true first Europeans in North America, and the contributions of Viking culture to western civilizations. It's about TIME!

This not long after a more modest but still timely article about Vikings and Leif Ericson in Newsweek magazine, and an excellent article in National Geographic in the last issue. In addition, watch your Public Broadcast Channel for a one hour show about "Leif Ericson-the Man Who Almost Changed America". It has already been shown in many locations, and will appear again. On May 9, there is a two hour NOVA special on the Vikings which, if you miss it, will no doubt appear again on other channels. Watch your local listings.

Most of the Scandinavian newspapers have also been running stories about Leif Ericson and the Millennium, which are welcome and timely. The big news, however is that the National Media have picked up on this and are helping inform not only Scandinavian Americans (about 4-5% of our population) but all the other groups who have had so much difficulty taking Leif Ericson seriously in the past.

Special thanks go to Ivar Christensen, President of the Leif Ericson Society International, Media, PA, who has beaten the drums for Leif for most of his life, to writer Allan Swenson of Kennebunk, ME, who has made it his personal mission to get the truth told about Leif and Vikings in North America, to Congressman Martin Olaf Sabo of Minnesota who sponsored the striking of a Leif Ericson Commemorative Coin this year, and to all the many others of Viking descent who have labored to further this message.

Now we need to keep this Millennium momentum going by seeing to it that the next generation is taught the truth in the schools, that Leif is in all the history texts, and that this Discovery is honored each and every year of the new Millennium.


One thousand years ago, King Olaf Tryggvesson was in the midst of an arms race to consolidate his Kingdom. (Busy converting the Norse to Christianity, he had also recently baptized Leif Ericson and charged him with converting the Greenland settlement). In 996 he had built the Crane, to be his newest and largest longship. On defeating Raud the Strong, of the North, he acquired Raud's Serpent after putting that challenger for the throne to death. In 1000, he commissioned a new ship to be even greater than either. 150 feet long, this was to be the mightiest Viking Ship ever built. He named her the Long Serpent, it's namesake becoming the Short Serpent.

In the spring of 1001, he sailed for the Göta River with a vast army to show off his new ships to his sister, married to the Earl of Västergotland. His wife, Tyri, a daughter of Harald Bluetooth of Denmark, and sister to Svein Forkbeard, badgered him continuously to recover by force if necessary lands which had been promised to her in Pomerania. He finally agreed, and gathered a force of some sixty ships to undertake this mission. (Olaf's army of seaborne warriors were more akin to our Marines, of today).

Competition among Viking Kings was ferocious for control of the Baltic lands, and Royal relationships were entangled by arranged and forced marriages among all the competitors. Olaf's fleet sailed by midsummer for Poland, where King Boleslav (rejected earlier by Queen Tyri) was cordial, entertaining King Olaf long enough to muster his allies. Arrayed against him were King Svein Forkbeard of Denmark (prodded by his Swedish wife, Sigrid Storråda), also Sigrid's son and King of the Svear, Olaf the Lap-King. Joining them against the Norwegians were Earl Eric Haconsson of Norway, and Earl Sigvald, leader of the mercenary Jomsvikings.

Sailing west from Poland, Sigvald the Jomsviking pretended to lead Olaf's fleet into battle, but at the last moment turned against Olaf to join his opponents. King Olaf's fleet was now trapped and greatly outnumbered, and the greatest naval battle of the age was joined.

Off the Chalk cliffs of Rugen, near Peenemunde, the fleets came together, with the allied forces led by the Norse Eric Haconsson and his armored ship Iron Beard. In the manner of the times, they all joined together and fought over the decks like a land army, pushing the dead into the sea and driving defeated ships away. Spears and arrows flew, and swords clashed against shields. Finally it came down to Iron Beard against Long Serpent, with, at the last, only King Olaf and his mighty archer and Marshal, Einar the Bowman, standing together. Einar's bow was broken by an enemy arrow, and the pair retreated to the stern of Long Serpent in the face of overwhelming force. Finally, Olaf jumped into the sea rather than be captured by his enemies, Einar survived. Thus ended this great Battle of Svold, of the Christian King Olaf against his still heathen enemies.

Legend has it that Olaf survived to live out his life in a Monastery in Syria, but most historians believe that he died, drowned in the sea. (For the full story of this epic sea battle, see "The Last Apocalypse, Europe at the year 1000 A.D." by James Reston, Jr., Chapter 5, "Armageddon at Sea", Doubleday-Dell, N.Y., 1998).


In the six years that I have served as President of Leif Ericson Viking Ship NORSEMAN, I have enjoyed the satisfaction of watching our group grow in size, activities, and organization. With the Annual Meeting scheduled for May 20, I will retire as President and wish to sincerely thank the many people responsible for our growth. It has been a privilege to have been elected to serve with such a fine group of people.

There will be some changes, but many things will continue as before. Nominated as your new President is Mark Lundgren, Board member for many years and strong Viking enthusiast. Nominee for Vice President will be Jim Thornton, of Wilmington, DE, whose special talents are in the areas of Development and non-profit organizations. Ulf Hammarskjold has resumed the role of Treasurer, and Harold Sundby will continue his many years of valuable service as Secretary. Re-nominated to the Board of Directors are former Board Members Steve Clark, Erik Hinrichsen, Kris Lundgren, and Eric Shallcross. J. Gunnar Saf is nominated as a new Board member, and Dave (Wolf) Sutton has agreed to accept re-nomination after an interval off the Board.

Worthy of special appreciation is continuing Board member and outgoing Vice President David Segermark. Dave is no doubt the longest serving Viking among our group, who was there at the beginning with our former ship "Ravnen". Dave has long served as Vice President, Skipper, Head of Operations, and general doer of all things. His recent retirement, and that of his wife Mary, brings about their permanent move to their vacation home in Maryland and Dave wishes to lessen his responsibilities but still remain involved. Always avoiding a public role, Dave quietly and steadily made things happen, everything including keeping all the equipment in order, organizing our boat shed construction, scheduling all operations, captaining Norseman, driving on most long outings, mustering crews when needed, and endless other tasks. Thank you, Dave.

As we approach the special events this year for the Leif Ericson Millennium, and our eighth sailing season for Norseman, we can look back on a number of achievements in support of our overall mission. In l992 we adopted formal By-laws and developed a tradition of roles and responsibilities. This newsletter was established in l994, and our web-site inaugurated not long after. Our Viking boat shed was dedicated a year ago in Wilmington, and we are now qualified as a 501(c)3 non-profit educational organization. We have made numerous appearances each year throughout the Northeast US and as far afield as Stockholm, Sweden (1998) and Austin, Texas. This year we will sail for L'Anse Aux Meadows, Newfoundland.

For all these accomplishments, I wish to extend my thanks to:

This will be the last edition of NORSEMAN NEWS under my editorship, the newsletters from now on will be edited by Board Member Steve Clarke. Steve's knowledge of Viking history and equipment is unmatched in our organization, and we look forward with great interest to the next newsletters. I shall now concentrate on my presentations of "The Old Swedish Viking", Thord Buresson, who reminisces about his life and his adventures as a young Viking and his journey to Vinland in 1000 with Leif Ericson and crew. (see www.2vikings.comsoon).

Now, the torches are passed to newer and younger Vikings, who will build upon what has been accomplished in the past, continue the growth of this organization, conserve and maintain NORSEMAN, and broaden the reach of our mission which is to tell the truth about Leif Ericson and Vikings in North America. I am confident that all Members, Friends, and others will continue to provide their strong support to this new team of leaders.

Paraphrasing the Vikings of old; "Cattle die, sheep die, all die, but our deeds and our reputations live on ..."


Dennis L. Johnson, President, 1994-2000 Page 3


Plans are already under way for an authentic Viking Feast, Saturday September 9 at the American Swedish Historical Museum in Philadelphia. This event coincides with the visit of a number of Viking Sailors from Sweden and possibly from other ships. This will be a fund-raiser for the Museum, sponsors will be needed to host the visiting Vikings. We will be asking members, friends, and others, whether planning to attend or not, to host one or more visiting Vikings by purchasing an extra ticket for them. Final cost is not yet definite, but it will be about $50.00 per ticket for the feast. For further information contact the Museum at or call 215 389 1776.


Our Millennium year sailing season promises to keep NORSEMAN and crew very busy. The installation of our new VOLVO-PENTA diesel power unit is nearing completion and a "shakedown cruise" should take place sometime in mid-May. Our first major appearance will be at a Leif Ericson Millennium Celebration in Cleveland, OH planned for June 1 on the Lake Erie waterfront. Norseman will sail in, then be on display all day as part of the Dinner and Celebration, a fund-raiser to erect a Statue to Leif Ericson in that city as a Millennium tribute. For complete information, contact Emilie Knud-Hansen Coleman at

We will be joining several tall ships events this summer, part of OPSAIL2000, to represent the first sailing ships in North America. Events are planned in Wilmington, Philadelphia, New York City, and several other locations. We hope to be present at least in Wilmington and Philadelphia, possibly others. Check our web site for the latest updated schedule.

On June 30 through July 2, NORSEMAN will be in Glen cove, New York on Long Island sound for The Glen Cove Waterfront Festival. We will lead the parade of sailing ships and be on display for the weekend event.

About July 22, NORSEMAN will depart for Newfoundland on its trailer, accompanied by crew members and equipment. We will assemble with some dozen or more Viking ships in Labrador, then sail to L'Anse Aux Meadows for about ten days of Viking sailing, Festivities, encampments, and other activities sponsored by the Viking Trails Tourism Association of Newfoundland. Plans after Aug. 6 are uncertain, we may accompany a few ships sailing South, or may return to Philadelphia by trailer to join other ships later. The crew roster is still being made up, if interested contact Dave Segermark at or 410 275 8516 September 2 through 4 (Labor Day Weekend) NORSEMAN will sail with several Viking ships in New York Harbor, including SKIDBLADNER from Stockholm and VIKING PLYM from Täby, Sweden. The following weekend, ships will sail in Philadelphia, Sept. 9 and 10. If you wish to help plan events in either location, or for information, contact Dennis L. Johnson at or 215 242 3063

On September 30 (Sunday) NORSEMAN will join the annual Leif Ericson Parade and Festival at Budd Lake, NJ. For more details, contact John Larsson at or visit the Budd Lake web site,

The annual Leif Ericson ceremony and banquet will take place in Philadelphia on October 9, rain or shine, with NORSEMAN present on the Schuylkill. Chairman for the noon ceremony will be Mark Lundgren, President nominee of NORSEMAN. Joe Jeantet of Danish Brotherhood fame will Chair the Banquet. Watch the NORSEMAN website and fall newsletter for more details.

For updates and additions to this schedule, check the NORSEMAN web site regularly.


A thousand years ago, with the spread of Christianity in Sweden, it became essential for the people to get to Church each Sunday. New churches were being built in many villages, usually of wood, with stone Baptismal fonts to baptize Christian babies, and those converted to Christianity. Thus roads became essential in many parts of Sweden to allow travel to the Churches.

Along one such old road lies "the oldest bridge in Sweden". Known as "Jarlebanke's Bridge", it is marked by four very similar runestones, all bearing the same inscription. The stones were erected by a man named Jarlebanke, who built the road as a way of showing his good works on behalf of the new faith. This "bridge" was actually a causeway over a marshy stream at this location.

The runestones all read, "Jarlebanke had these stones raised in memory of himself in his lifetime. And he made this bridge for his soul. And alone he owned the whole of Täby. God help his soul." Clearly, Jarlebanke was an important man, an Earl, who wanted his works to be known for a long time. The eleventh century in Sweden was a time of building many roads, and numerous other old bridges date to that period. Many are now marked by runestones. Most other runestones are erected as memorials to the dead, usually ancestors or family members who died abroad.

The Editor is being given a tour (1999) of Viking and ancient remains in Täby by Mr. Carl Norberg, leader of the ship "Viking Plym", based in Täby, now a suburb of Stockholm. Also present was Lars Elenborg, local history expert and retired Town Planner, who has studied the history of this area in great detail.


Many groups are hosting Viking and Scandinavian Festivals around the US and Canada this year, following is a partial listing:

June 16-18 Midsummer Fest in Vancouver, BC at the Scandinavian Center, 6540 Thomas St. Burnaby, Contact Olaf Oden at or 604 294 2777

July 8-9 Viking Days Festival, Seattle, WA, by the Nordic Heritage Museum, phone 206 789 5707

July 27-30 Nordic Fest, Decorah, Iowa, or call toll-free 800 382 FEST

Aug. 10-13 Scandinavian Festival of Junction City, Oregon, Phone 541 998 9372

Sept. 3 16th Annual Scan Fest, Waterloo, NJ, see or call 610 868 7525

Sept. 9 Viking Feast, American Swedish Historical Museum, Philadelphia PA. see or call 215 389 1776

Sept. 22-24 Scandifest, Turlock, CA, see or e-mail, phone 209 667 1452

Sept. 30 Leif Ericson Parade and Festival, Budd Lake, NJ, see, e-mail or call 732 396 0320

Oct. 9 Annual Leif Ericson Day ceremony (noon) and Dinner (evening), Philadelphia, PA e-mail or 215 242 3063

Oct. 10-14 Scandinavian Hostfest, Minot ND, e-mail, or 701 852 2368


Re-enactors at L'Anse Aux Meadows portray a Viking group in a reconstructed Viking Longhouse at the historic site in Newfoundland. Several buildings from the Viking settlement have been reconstructed, and major events, a large Viking encampment, crafts demonstrations, and other events have been planned for this summer's visit of viking ships from Europe and the US, including NORSEMAN.

This site is generally believed to be the site of "Leif's budir" or Leif's houses, as mentioned in the two Sagas which relate the story of Leif Ericson's voyage and several later voyages. Most scholars now believe that "Vinland" refers not to this site, but to the general area including Newfoundland, Nova Scotia, and the upper St. Lawrence gulf, perhaps including lands as far south as Massachusetts. L'Anse Aux Meadows is considered to have been a base camp for other travels and explorations to other parts of "Vinland".


Leif's Saga, a Viking Tale, written and illustrated by Jonothan Hunt, Simon and Schuster, New York, l996.

The author's excellent, detailed color illustrations are a fine companion to this story of Leif Ericson's voyage to North America in about 1000 A.D. Best suited for children ages about eight to twelve years old, it can also be read to the younger ones, they will love looking at the highly accurate pictures portraying Viking Life on Greenland in the eleventh century.

The story is presented in the form of a Greenland father, Asgrim, relating Leif's voyage to his young daughter, Sigrid, while working in his shed to build a Viking Knarr of Oak from trees gathered by Leif's party while in Vinland. Asgrim has purchased the wood from Leif, and he is using the long Greenland winter to build a ship to take his family to Vinland.

Author's notes in the last pages provide added background about the Viking age, Greenland, and Leif's journey to Vinland. This helps parents or teachers use the book and teach their youngsters about this period and event of the Viking age. We have obtained a limited number of copies, this book will be hard to find elsewhere. See order form on the back page of this newsletter to order. Hard cover, illustrated, about 32 pages.

-Dennis L. Johnson, Editor



This year, NORSEMAN will be eight years old. We have found in our archives a previously unpublished photograph taken in the delivery room by member Ulf Hammarskjold, who was present at the birthing. After dilation to some 260 cm. (no epesiotomy) and several hours in labor, a Maersk container successfully gave birth to NORSEMAN. Helping with the extraction (no forceps) were several proud uncles, including Dave Segermark, Bill Nyborg, Gene Martenson and several others. Attending physician was Marty Martinson, who had earlier assisted with the conception on the Isle of Man.