Discovery of cannabis pollen found near a former Viking settlement in L’Anse aux Meadows has sparked controversy
A discovery of cannabis pollen found near a former Viking settlement in Newfoundland has sparked controversy as to whether Vikings were using the drug.
Ancient Newfoundland archaeological site L’Anse aux Meadows, located in one of the northernmost areas of the province, was named a UNESCO World Heritage Site in the 1970s.
While most archaeologists contend that the site was only a host to Viking explorers for a short time in the 11th century, Memorial University postdoctoral fellow Paul Ledger has published a new paper in Proceedings of the National Academy of Science journal suggesting that Vikings may have lived in the area far later than previously believed — potentially well into the 12th and even part of the 13th century, Live Science notes.
Last summer, archaeologists excavating a peat bog near the site uncovered a layer of environmental remnants potentially left by humans, dating to the 12th or early 1300s.
The remnants included charcoal, several insects, and caribou feces, in addition, pollen from cannabis and walnut plants — neither of which is indigenous to the region.
While the evidence seems to suggest that the ancient Nordics were prolific cannabis users, Ledger urges caution in jumping to that conclusion.
“Pollen carries in the wind,” he notes in the study. While there is some evidence from other geographical regions that Vikings used cannabis, the remnants from L’Anse aux Meadows may have been transported there by an Indigenous Newfoundland group as opposed to ancient Europeans — such as ancestors of the Beothuk, whose forced migration at the hands of colonizers centuries later led to the extinction of the people.
The mystery persists!