Eric the Red was back from exile.

He had found a new country. ‘Pasture enough for anyone who chooses to come,’ he said. You joined him; what choice did you have? All Iceland’s good land was taken. 

In 986CE, five hundred settlers started to build Europe’s most remote outpost. You worked hard and you flourished, growing to five thousand strong. 

When Christianity came you embraced it. You built a cathedral, exporting endless amounts of walrus ivory, not in return for iron or tools, but for windows and communion wine. 

You scorned the Inuit who came to your hunting grounds. What could pagan ‘wretches’ teach you? If you noticed their kayaks and toggle harpoons, you did not copy them. Nor their skill in hunting ringed seal, the only food available in Greenland’s deepest winter; you had stores. 

But slowly, as the weather changed, the impact of your community began to show; you had cut too much turf and the soils had thinned, too many animals had grazed on fragile new shoots. 

When the spring came, the ice did not melt and the animals you hunted did not come. There were too many of you to feed. You ate your last reserves before slowly starving, leaving Greenland to the Inuit, who hunt there still. 

Greenland Vikings

Alex Harvie

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