THE NORSE IN NORTH AMERICA
1 The Norse made the first documented European voyages to North America, and there is evidence of these visits in the medieval sagas, a collection of stories that tell the history of the Icelandic people. The Icelandic sagas relate how the Norse captain Leif Eriksson and his brother Thorvald were blown off course during a voyage from Norway to Greenland and landed to the west of Greenland, and also describe Thorfirm Karlsefni’s attempt to colonize a place called Vinland. The sagas are a valuable source of details about these early voyages; however, historians have long expressed skepticism about their accuracy.
2 Norsemen ventured far from their homeland in Scandinavia to found settlements on the Greenland coast. One of them, the trader Bjarni Herjolfsson, was blown off course and subsequently discovered a wooded coastline, almost certainly that of Newfoundland. Although Herjolfsson did not go ashore, this discovery made him the first European to set eves on the continent of North America.
3 Herjolfsson’s account encouraged Leif Eriksson to undertake a southward voyage of exploration, starting around the year 1000. In the course of his travels, Eriksson landed in a place he called Stoneland, which was probably the rocky, barren Labrador coast of North America. Eriksson’s party finally landed in Vinland, where they spent a winter in rough Viking huts in a seemingly frost-free land of abundant vines and wild grapes. They established the first European colony in North America at Vinland the precise location of which remains a subject of scholarly dispute to this day. The Norsemen returned home in the spring, abandoning the rude settlement that, a few years later, would serve as home base for Tiiorfinn Karlsefni of Greenland.
4 Around 1004, the expedition led by Thorfinn Karlsefni set off southward, evidently with a longer stay in mind, as women and cattle accompanied the sailors. Karlsefni and his party passed two years in Vinland, exploring the coast and fighting the local aboriginal tribes, whom they called “slcrelings.” Thorfinn Karlsefni was killed in a bloody encounter with a native group, and continued threats from hostile tribes may have thwarted the Norse attempt at colonization. For some reason, they departed their settlement at Vinland, although Greenlanders continued to make occasional visits there in later years, using it as a fishing camp.
5 Until the twentieth century, the Icelandic sagas were the primary source of information about the Norse exploration of North America. They served as inspiration for Norwegian explorer and writer Helge Ingstad, who in the early 1960s traveled the coasts of eastern North America searching for evidence of Vinland. Encouraged by an alternative interpretation of “vin” as meaning “meadow” rather than vine or wine, he discovered a grassy site on the northern tip of Newfoundland that local people had believed was an aboriginal site haunted by ancient ghosts. There, Ingstad excavated the remains of eight sod huts, together with artifacts of Norse origin such as a bronze pin and sewing tools. He concluded that the grassland called L’Anse aux Meadows was, if not Vinland, then certainly a Norse settlement of some kind.
6 Huddled for protection from the wind, the cluster of sod-built structures at L’Anse aux Meadows was no temporary camp. Sod walls and sod roofs built over a timber frame indicated dwellings that were substantial enough for permanent occupation. The eight huts included three long, narrow buildings with features similar to those found in Norse structures in Greenland and Iceland. Other smaller buildings, probably used for storage and workshops, included a forge that used iron ore extracted from peat bogs—evidence of the first iron working in North America.
sod: soil held together by the roots of grass
26. What can be inferred from paragraph 1 about the Icelandic sagas?
(A) They were not known outside of Iceland.
(B) They were originally told in the form of songs.
(C) They may not be historically accurate.
(D) They inspired Leif Eriksson to explore Vinland.
27. The phrase set eyes on in paragraph 2 is closest in meaning to
28. According to the passage, who was probably the first European to step on the continent of North America?
(A) Bjarni Herjolfsson
(B) Leif Eriksson
(C) Thorfinn Karlsefni
(D) Helge Ingstad
29. The word abundant in paragraph 3 is closest in meaning to
30. Which sentence betow best expresses the essential information in the highlighted sentence in paragraph 3? Incorrect choices change the meaning in important ways or leave out essential information.
A. The Norse were the first Europeans to discover North America, but little evidence remains of their settlement at Vinland.
B. The location of Vinland, the first European colony in North America, was unknown until the twenty-first century.
C. The Europeans chose Vinland as the site of their first colony because it had perfect conditions for growing grapes,
D. Eriksson’s Vinland was the first European colony in North America, but scholars still disagree over exactly where it was.
31. Why does the author mention women and cattle in paragraph 4?
(A) To show the level of detail included in the sagas
(B) To point out the peaceful intentions of the sailors
(C) To provide evidence of a plan to start a colony
(D) To describe the division of labor in Norse society
32. The word thwarted in paragraph 4 is closest in meaning to
33. What became of Vinland after Thorfinn Karlsefni’s party left?
A. Hostile native tribes destroyed the buildings.
B. It became a permanent colony a few years later.
C. Historians made no further mention of it.
D. It was sometimes used as a base for fishing.
34. What led to Helge Ingstad’s discovery at L’Anse aux Meadows in the 1960s?
A. The account of Vinland’s wild grapes in the sagas
B. The search for a favorable place for a colony
C. The idea that Vinland referred to a meadow
D. The interest in writing about a haunted place
35. The word those in paragraph 6 refers to
36. All of the following were discovered at L’Anse aux Meadows EXCEPT
(A) wild grapes
(B) huts made of sod
(C) sewing tools
(D) an iron forge
37. Look at the four squares, [A], [B], [C], and [D], which indicate where the following sentence could be added to the passage. Where would the sentence best fit?
He and his men then sailed south to Woodland, which could have been Newfoundland, Nova Scotia, or Maine, all of which are wooded.
Herjolfsson’s account encouraged Leif Eriksson to undertake a southward voyage of exploration, starting around the year 1000. [A] In the course of his travels, Eriksson landed in a place he called Stoneland, which was probably the rocky, barren Labrador coast of North America. [B] Eriksson’s party finally landed in Vinland where they spent a winter in rough Viking huts in a seemingly frost-free land of abundant vines and wiid grapes. [C] They established the first European colony in North America at Vinland the precise location of which remains a subject of scholarly dispute to this day. [D] The Norsemen returned home in the spring, abandoning the rude settlement that, a few years later, would serve as home base for Thorf inn Karlsefni of Greenland.
38. Read the first sentence of a summary of the passage. Complete the summary by selecting the THREE answer choices that express the most important ideas in the passage. Some sentences do not belong in the summary because they express ideas that are not presented in the passage or are minor ideas in the passage. This question is worth 2 points.
The Norse were the first Europeans to attempt to colonize North America.
(A) The Icelandic sagas tell the story of how Leif Eriksson and his brother Thorvald were blown off course.
(B) A group of Norse explorers led by Leif Eriksson built a temporary colony at a place called Vinland.
(C) Norsemen from Greenland were able to travel to distant lands because they lived on preserved fish.
(D) Thorfinn Karlsefni established a colony at Vinland, but this settlement was abandoned a few years later.
(E) Evidence of an early Norse settlement was discovered at L’Anse aux Meadows in Newfoundland.
(F) A building with sod walls and a sod roof over a timber frame is strong enough for permanent occupation.