There’s still much to be learned about the Norse presence in Canada and the United States before Columbus. The Vikings are considered one of the most feared warriors and relentless raiders in history.
There is strong evidence that Norseman landed on the coast of North America 500 years before Christopher Columbus.
Science Channel brings a new six-part series this Sunday, America’s Lost Vikings, to the small screen and introduces us to two engaging academics who have skin in the game.
They are hell bent for Viking.
This article is for all the history and historical artifact recovery junkies out there who dine on shows like Curse of Oak Island and Gold Rush, except this has a decidedly more historical bent.
Meet Blue Nelson, a historic archaeologist who specializes in artifact analysis, historical research, African American archaeology, and historic race relations.
His on screen partner is Mike Arbuthnot who is a terrestrial and maritime archaeologist. His specialty is analyzing and identifying submerged prehistoric archaeology and Southeastern U.S. history.
We spoke to the archaeologists from the Television Critics Association winter press tour ahead of their exciting premiere.
Monsters and Critics: Mike, how did you connect to Blue?
Mike Arbuthnot: In addition to my archaeology career, I’ve been developing nonfiction television concepts for more than two decades.
When I first met Blue [Nelson] on an archaeological survey in the sweltering Florida summer of 2009, I was impressed with his passion and intellect, and knew he’d be great on television.
Since then, we’ve hosted two series together and have developed several other television projects. When Tom Brisley at Arrow Media told me about America’s Lost Vikings, I knew Blue would want in.
What was the most surprising fact or thing you learned chasing the Viking traces and migration in North America?
Mike Arbuthnot: Perhaps the most surprising revelation I had is the impressive number of Norse artifacts that have been found in the Canadian arctic and their implications.
It’s easy to forget that the Norse were in Greenland for 500 years (AD 1000 – 1500). A lot can happen in that span of time, including numerous trips to the North America.
M&C: Blue, what is your “Viking Blood?”
Blue Nelson: My “Viking Blood” is a reference to my Danish heritage. My father’s family immigrated to Nebraska from the upper part of the Jutland peninsula of Denmark in the 1890s. My mother and I immigrated to the US from England when I was two. I can trace my lineage on her side of the family to the House of Normandy and Rollo the Walker.
M&C: Why did you want to chase the Viking legacy in North America?
Blue Nelson: Sadly, most people in the US still think Columbus was the first European to step foot in North America. I want to tell the real story of the European exploration.
There is still a lot of our own history that we have no clue about, and it’s this mystery that drives all archaeologists.
M&C: Are shows like the Curse of Oak Island directly related to the Viking migration in North America?
Blue Nelson: No. In fact, Vikings and Oak Island seems like a new twist to an old story. Is this really the narrative now?
As far as I know, we are the only show that is critically analyzing suspected Norse artifacts and basing our results on experience and input from various Viking experts from various disciplines.
Tune in to watch Blue Nelson and Mike Arbuthnot are sorting through the terrain of North America’s only confirmed Viking site, L’Anse Aux Meadows in Newfoundland.
For those unaware, the Newfoundland locale of L’Anse aux Meadows was a stopping off point after arriving in North America after a tough cross Atlantic trip.
And for those well traveled, L’Anse aux Meadow on all appearances is an inhospitable terrain, but the climate was different and warmer in the 11th century.
Did that fact even affect the Vikings exploration? This series will deep dive that question as these two academics analyze the remnants of what was.
The logline from Science Channel:
“Why did the Vikings choose to set up camp in this barren wilderness? A high tech survey leads Blue and Mike to see the site from a whole new
angle,before Blue is pitched into a freezing cold climate chamber to test Viking clothing.
The pair’s investigation leads them to the Viking heartland of Iceland. Here, a thousand-year-old book reveals the amazing human story behind L’Anse aux Meadows and puts the true purpose of the site within their grasp…
As they follow the trail of evidence south, they go to extreme lengths to discover how the Viking explorers survived. To put their theories to the test, they plunge themselves into freezing temperatures to test Viking clothing, row a specially constructed Norse boat through icy waters, and learn to fight with Viking weapons.
It’s a journey that pushes them to their physical limits and beyond – and ultimately takes them further across America than they ever imagined.
“The question of just how much of North America the Vikings explored hasn’t been investigated to this degree,” said Marc Etkind, General Manager of Science Channel. “The latest scientific technology may help us answer just how far they got, where they went and who they encountered.”
“We are on the trail of where they went in America,” says Blue Nelson in our exclusive clip.
America’s Lost Vikings airs on Sundays at 10/9c on the Science Channel.