Thursday, 7 June 2012


- continued  : Wednesday February 8, 1939

If the Norsemen in their stay here in Vinland for hundreds of years were driven to use copper spears and tools they had apparently good reason for doing so. Because it is quite clear that from about 1300 they had difficulty in getting anything from Europe. The King of Norway had agreed to send his ships regularly to Greenland when Greenland in 1261 gave up its republic and became part of the Norwegian realm. But it is recorded that the last King's ship , the "Snorren," was lost about 1378 and after that Greenland fared badly for imports. The settlers there did a little blacksmithing but their supplies of iron must have been meagre and they had practically no fuel. We even read of whalebone axes being used. What could have been more natural than that the Vikings should use the native copper that existed in such quantity on Lake Superior. The Indians, according to the Jesuit missionaries with them, regarded pieces of copper in the 17th century, as something sacred - household gods more than anything else. It may indeed be argued that till the white man came along with his tools the Indians lacked the means of making some of the copper articles now recovered here-abouts.


Thus a possibly new angle of the Norse influx may develop. It can be assumed that the Norse discoverers of our Great Lakes did more than drop spears and axes around them. The handle of the Jacksonport, Wisconsin,  sword is reported as of copper that has the hardness of brass - copper hardens of itself in the earth. The owner of the sword may have worn out its original handle, and may possibly replaced it with copper.

The sword never was used by any Indian tribe - it connotes an open approach to an enemy that is foreign to Indian strategy. The Indian word that we translate "warrior" really means "scout." They always made a stealthy approach from cover or ambush with the bow and arrow as the principal weapon, and an avoidance of personal combat till it seemed propitious. But the Norseman and his sword were never backward about coming to close quarters.


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