Vol. 4 - No. 1 - Spring 1996
A panel of three judges have selected a winner of the Viking poetry
contest announced in the Norseman News last year. Judges were Ivar Christensen
(President, Leif Ericson Society International), NORSEMAN skipper Dave
Segermark, and Viking Crew Member Mark Lundgren. The winning poem, submitted
by Carol Naevestad-Billings of Oxford, CT, follows:
Leif the Viking bent his knees
And prayed to God in ten-o-three
"With your help I’ll set the sail
With your wisdom we’ll prevail."
Across the sea to a far off land
The Vikings sailed under Leif’s command
In winds and waves the ship was tossed,
But through it all the bark did cross.
A new world waited for Leif to view
Adventure, wonder, farmland too
Clear waters, fish and hunting grounds
A finer land could not be found
A man of courage, faith, and prayer
Leif the Norseman did his share
To open the worlds beyond the sea
A noble Viking, great was he!
The winning author is a school nurse at Oxford Center School in Connecticut and is married to a pastor in the Christian and Missionary Alliance church. She is Norwegian-American, all of her grandparents having been born in Norway. Her four children will continue her Nordic heritage, being named Kristin Liv, Bjrn Erik, Leif Nilsen, and Hans Olaf. Congratulations and a "Leif Landed First" T-shirt go to Carol for her poem.
Thanks also to the following people who entered and receive Honorable Mention:
-Judy Fleming & Sandy Olsen, St. James, NY
-Ingrid Kwiatek, Palmyra, PA
-Rolf E. Linder, Demarest, NJ
-Suzanna Nyberg, Trumball, CT
-Denise Johnson Staub, Philadelphia, PA
On April 27 & 28, NORSEMAN is scheduled to be on display at “Viking
Fest” in Georgetown, Texas, near Austin. This will be for Texas the first
annual statewide gathering of Scandinavian-Americans, celebrating the Jubilee
Year, (150th Anniversary of the great migration to the United States and
The sailing will be done by way of the interstate highway system, however - travel in the original Viking way would take months. NORSEMAN will be towed on its trailer, complete with sail, oars, sea chests, and other gear stowed in the hull. Skipper Dave Segermark and Dennis Johnson, group president, will lead a Viking band to Texas to take part in the Viking Fest. Several members will travel with the ship, others will travel by air and join the crew in Georgetown.
NORSEMAN has appeared in many eastern waters since its christening in early 1992, but this will be the Viking ship’s first appearance west of the Allegheny mountains. We are delighted at the opportunity to take part in this major Scandinavian festival and are looking forward to two days of festival activities in which NORSEMAN will play an important part. There will be entertainment, heritage displays, Scandinavian arts and crafts, ethnic foods, and a host of other activities including music groups from Scandinavia.
The Leif Ericson Viking Ship NORSEMAN is proud to be present at this great Texas festival to remind all Americans of the first European discoverers known to reach the shores of North America, in 1003 A.D. The discovery of Vinland by Leif Ericson and his fellow Vikings, and the documented settlement at L’Anse Aux Meadows, Newfoundland, was the first of many journeys by Nordic people to the new world.
It is particularly fitting that NORSEMAN is based in Philadelphia, the location of the second settlement of Colonial Swedes and Finns in North America, dating to 1638. These early explorations and settlements were followed in the 19th century by the hundreds of thousands of immigrants from the lands of the Vikings who helped settle, farm, and develop the Midwest from Minnesota to Texas. To our many members and friends in the Southwest, be sure to stop and say hello.
In addition to the expedition to Texas, NORSEMAN crew members are considering
appearances at several other events this year, depending on scheduling
and availability of crew.
We have been invited to take part in the Budd Lake “Musikfest ‘96 USA” on May 25 and 26, the annual Harborfest in Norfolk, Virginia on June 7-9, Midsommers in Central Park, NYC, June 21, the “Welcome America” lighted boat parade in Philadelphia on July 7 at Penn’s Landing, the “Maine Schooner Days” on the 4th of July weekend in Rockland, Maine, the Scandinavian Fest at Waterloo, New Jersey on Labor Day weekend, and others.
We cannot attend all of these events, but watch your local papers and stop and see us if we are in your area.
On Leif Ericson Day, October 9th, NORSEMAN will be back on the Schuylkill River in Philadelphia for the annual observance of this important occasion. The host country for this year will be Denmark, with Mogens Hempel and Ove Krebs heading up planning for the ceremonies.
As of this writing, at least nine crew members and others signed up
to make new oars for the NORSEMAN. The new 13 foot oars, of ash, are being
made at a two-day weekend class provided by the Independence Seaport Museum
on Penn’s Landing, Philadelphia, at their "Workshop on the Water".
Many Oarmakers are paying for their own materials and tuition; sponsors have been obtained for several others. If you would like to sponsor an oar, send $50.00 or more earmarked "NORSEMAN Oar" to LEVS NORSEMAN, Box 14, Swarthmore, PA 19081. Sponsors will have an oar permanently engraved with the donor’s name, along with that of the maker.
Vikings and Viking lore have been the subject of many books in the last
decade, as new information and research about the Viking age is uncovered.
Various aspects of Viking culture, trade, art, technology, and settlements
have been the subjects of recent publications and help fill out knowledge
about the Viking Age.
Most new books are factual accounts based on research in archeology, literature, and history. “Runestone”, by Don Coldsmith (Bantam Books, New York, 1995) is a fictional account of Vikings in North America at the time of Leif Ericson. The author, in an afterword, explains that the story was suggested to him by a visit to the Heavener Runestone, in Heavener, Oklahoma. Coldsmith became convinced that unlike others, the Heavener stone is authentic.
In the story a party of Vikings in two longships arrives at L’Anse Aux Meadows in the year Leif Ericson is at the settlement. After a time, the two ships proceed up the St. Lawrence river, but meet with disaster at the hands of the “Skraelings”. Two lone survivors, accompanied by a native guide nicknamed “Odin” (because he has only one eye) travel further west and join Odin’s tribe. For several years, the tribe migrates further west to the Mississippi. An attempt by the lead character, Nils Thorsson, to return to the Newfoundland settlement and home with his Indian wife and his son by way of the father of waters is frustrated by warlike tribes, and the adventurers seek refuge in Oklahoma, accounting for the Runestone. The novel ends with an allusion to the Mandan tribe, claimed in later centuries to have blond and blue-eyed descendants.
While clearly fictional, this well written story is an enjoyable diversion and portrays both Viking and Native Americans in a plausible, historically convincing manner. The author, a journeyman novelist, has written nearly thirty novels about the American west and native Americans. He now teaches at Emporia State University, Emporia, Kansas. Readers having further information about the Heavener Runestone are encouraged to send it to the Editor, Norseman News, at the mailing address given on page 4 or via E-mail email@example.com.
Several additions to our Viking-related items are now offered. In addition
to our colorful “Leif Landed First” shirts, aprons, and totes, several
new selections are on hand and make fine gifts and souvenirs. Treat your
kids to a video, “The Littlest Viking”, a NORSEMAN cap with embroidered
Viking ship badge (may be worn coming or going), or a “Kids Discover” magazine
Regrettably, rising costs have forced a modest price increase on our usual “Leif Landed First” items, the first in over 5 years. A discount for members of ten percent is still available, however, and all purchases help to support operating costs of the NORSEMAN.
A project to build a new Viking-styled boat shed to house the NORSEMAN
will begin in 1996. This new shelter, designed by Architect Dennis L. Johnson,
will protect the ship from the elements while enabling NORSEMAN to be suitably
displayed at the Kalmar Nyckel Shipyard in Wilmington, DE, when not traveling
The wood structure will be supported on four large poles sunk into the ground. The roof will protect NORSEMAN and its trailer from deterioration from the sun, rain and snow, while allowing full access for maintenance and display. Storage lockers under the eaves on one side will allow loose gear to be kept in order and secured.
The new boat shed is to be constructed largely by our own crew, but donations are needed to pay for materials. If you wish to add to the boat shed fund, please forward your contribution to us earmarked "Boat Shed Fund". Specific contributions also may be dedicated as follows:
Beams $1,000.00 each Gable Dragons $ 500.00 each Columns $ 300.00 each Rafters $ 100.00 each Shingles $ 5.00 ea./6 for $25.00
A memorial plaque will be affixed to the structure on completion listing all donors. Visitors to the Kalmar Nyckel Yard are welcome at all times, where you can see NORSEMAN and check on progress on the replica "Kalmar Nyckel", the sailing ship which brought the Colonial Swedes to the Delaware Valley in 1638.
We have recently received news of a new international organization formed
to act as a monitoring and advisory body on all issues relating to the
enhancement of Viking History. The Viking Network, headed by Mr. Dan Carlsson,
President, was formed by a group of Viking researchers to be a center of
Viking knowledge in cooperation with the Council of Europe. A guidebook
entitled “Follow the Vikings - Highlights of the Viking World” will be
published this spring and will be available free to members. For further
information write to Dan Carlsson, President, Viking Network, c\o Lansstyrelsen
I, Gotlands Lan, s621 85 Visby, Sweden.
By Denise Johnson Staub
(The first accurate English translation of the above to reach the Editor, Norseman News, will receive a free “Leif Landed First” Tote bag as a prize.) Mail to Editor, NORSEMAN News, LEVS, Box 14, Swarthmore, Pa. 19081.
New evidence supporting the authenticity of the famous "Vinland Map" owned by Yale (New York Times, Feb 13, 1996). If true, the map was drawn about 1440 and may well have been available to Columbus. This, however, still does not explain why, when Columbus left Spain he did not know where he was going, when he arrived in the West Indies, he didn’t know where he was, and when he returned to Spain, he didn’t know where he had been.
Was Leif Ericson the first Christian in America? Our information is that he was converted in Norway in 999 or 1000 by King Olaf Tryggvasson in Trondheim. His mother, Thiodheld, also became a Christian and is said to have built a chapel at their home Brattahlid, in Greenland. Eric (the Red) Thorvaldsson, however, stuck to his Norse Gods and made his wife build her chapel out of sight of his house.
If you could have only one book about the Viking period, the one to have would be Cultural Atlas of the Viking World, James Graham-Campbell, Editor, published by Facts-on-File, New York, 1994. This recent compendium of information about Viking sites, locations, travel routes, culture and history is filled with rich maps, photographs and drawings. If you can’t find one locally, try the American Swedish Historical Museum in Philadelphia, or Swedish Institute Bookshop in Minneapolis. Cost is about $45, but well worth the price.
Fall 1995 Newsletter