Did Columbus & Europe know about Vinland Before 1492?

A portrait of Adam of Bremen

“He also told me that many in this part of the Ocean have discovered an island called Vinland because there are grapevines growing wild which produces the best of wines. From trustworthy Danes rather than from fantastic tales, I also have heard that there is an abundance of cereal which is self-sown. Beyond this island, he (King Sven of Denmark) says, are no more inhabitable islands in the Ocean. Everything farther out is covered by immense masses of ice and perennial fog.“

Here it is evident that this new finding was hardly relevant. Although Adam mentions some positive features of the land, It was still just a distant island in the far depths of the world. Nobody showed any interest in continued exploration.

Polychronicon by Ranulf Higden
The Vinland Map
A portrait of Ferdinand Columbus

“In the month of February, 1477, I sailed one hundred leagues beyond the island of Thule, whose southern part is in latitude 73 degrees north, and not 63 degrees as some affirm: nor does it lie upon the meridian where Ptolemy says the West begins, but much further west. And to this island, which is as big as England, the English come with their wares, especially from Bristol. When I was there, the sea was not frozen, but the tides were so great that in some places they rose twenty-six fathoms and fell as much in depth.”

Sadly, there is no real consensus on whether this is what really happened or not. There is actually a lot of evidence pointing to the contrary.



Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store
Bradley Gearhart

Bradley Gearhart


Triple major in history, philosophy, & European studies interested in intellectual history, historical anthropology, identity, culture, and existentialism.