Eric the Red - George Upton

Scandinavians in Brazil
Some Historic Memorials

Many historians have expressed the belief that the Normans reached Brazil in their expeditions. Even if this were not confirmed by historical documents, it would not appear improbable. For, as Bastian says, in his ethnological treatise, it would be rank absurdity to believe that these chivalrous heroes of the sea, who attacked Frank and Byzantine Emperors and wrested empires from them, for whom the Mediterranean Sea was too narrow and who sailed to the Canary Islands at an early day and to America, where they had to contend with naked savages, should have halted half way and not gone farther south, where the fruitage of their passion for discovery would have been so much more luxurious. The theory is also confirmed by antiquarian discoveries. At Lagoa Santa, in Brazil, Dr. Lund found a broken stone tablet with runic inscription, in which, notwithstanding its defacement, he could make out several Icelandic words. Further investigation revealed the foundations of houses exactly like the ruins of those in northern Norway, Iceland, and West Greenland. The inference, therefore, is clear that the Normans established settlements there.

Kingiktonsoak Rock


The rune is a magical character, also a mystery. Its latter significance may well have arisen from the fact that originally only a few were acquainted with this style of writing. Rune writing has peculiar characters, some of them, I, R, K, B, D, T, of Latin and Greek parentage; others are of a wholly different character and appear in the oldest times to have had the form of twigs and branches. Sometimes several were joined together or made into a single letter, like the Latin "YE." In the beginning there were only sixteen characters but later six others were added for completeness. The inscriptions were carved or cut upon wood or stone, seldom appearing on parchment, and usually read from left to right.

The time of the origin of rune-writing is a mystery. Scandinavian scholars believe that their race had a historian who wrote in Gothic before the birth of Christ. It is also well known that Ulfila, or Wulfile, the Maesogothic bishop, translated the Scriptures into Gothic, and that the Scandinavian, Ablabius, about the year 560, wrote the history of his people in Gothic in twelve volumes, which fourteen years later his countryman, Jomander, Bishop of Ravenna, translated into Latin.

The old Greenlanders probably traversed the west coast of their country as far as we know it to-day. The following incident seems to confirm the statement. In the Spring of 1824 a certain Greenlander, named Pelinut, found a rune-stone upon the island of Kingiktonsoak in 72 55' north latitude and 56 05' west longitude from Greenwich, four miles to the northwest of Upernavik, the most northerly Danish colony in Greenland. After the finder of the stone had vainly tried to sell it to some English fishermen he turned it over to a Danish ship captain, Graah, who took it to Denmark. The stone aroused great curiosity among the antiquarians. An exact drawing was made of it and sent to Dr. Gislius Brynjuloson, a priest in the church at Holmn, in Iceland, who was famous among scholars and archaeologists for his rune knowledge. Before his early death he found time to decipher it. Two other runologists of Copenhagen also read it and confirmed Dr. Brynjuloson's finding. The stone is greenish in color. The inscription is as follows:

Evling, son of Sighvat, and Bjarn, son of Thord, and Eindridi, son of Odd, erected this memorial on the seventh day of the week (Saturday) before the day of victory in 1135. (The day of victory was celebrated April 25)

Back of the bay of Igolikoc, at the same place where this rune-stone was found, they also discovered, according to the statement of Captain Graah, a structure eight hundred and twenty feet in length and a hundred feet in width, built of stones of extraordinary size. Undoubtedly there was a monastery there or it may have been the seat of a bishop. The church, called Kakortoki, is the finest of all the structures on that coast. The architecture shows not only elegance but simplicity. Each stone was placed with the most exact nicety in the interior, the one adapted to the length, the other to the breadth of the wall. On the outside of the wall one can discover no trace of their union or of cement of any kind. Inside, there are traces here and there between the joints of a hard, white mass. The side of the church looking towards the sea has four openings for windows and two doors, of which the one farther towards the east is two and a half feet lower than the other. Apparently one was intended for the church officials and the other for the congregation. The whole structure was once surrounded at a distance of fifty or sixty feet away by a wall which has been demolished.