III. The Postclassical Period, 500–1500 > G. The Americas, 1000–1525 > 2. Pre-Columbian Explorations by Europeans, 1200–1530
  The Encyclopedia of World History.  2001.
2. Pre-Columbian Explorations by Europeans, 1200–1530
Leif Ericson, returning from Norway to Greenland, was driven onto the North American coast. Settlements near L'Anse aux Meadows, at the northern tip of Newfoundland, show evidence of Norse presence and might be the Wineland (Vinland) mentioned by Ericson.  1
Thorfinn Karlsefni set out from Greenland with three ships, to settle Wineland. He and his party spent three winters on the North American continent. The localities he visited have not been determined.  2
The last mentioned visit to Wineland was in 1189, although it is possible Norsemen came at least as far as southern Labrador for ship timber as late as 1347. After that date, the Greenland colonies declined, though the West Colony (in southeast Greenland) continued to exist until at least the mid-15th century.  3
It is possible, though there is no evidence, that Breton, Gascon, or Basque fishermen regularly visited Labrador in this period. Many theories have been advanced to demonstrate a European presence before Columbus, but most rest on hypotheses and clever deductions. After the translation of Ptolemy's Geography into Latin (1410), the idea that the earth was spherical (never entirely lost during the Middle Ages) spread rapidly in scientific circles and revived the goal of reaching Asia by sailing west.  4
The Encyclopedia of World History, Sixth edition. Peter N. Stearns, general editor. Copyright © 2001 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Maps by Mary Reilly, copyright 2001 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.