Highlands & Islands

Evidence of early Norse metalwork in Canada

Crucible Image copyright Patricia Sutherland
Image caption Archaeologists have examined bronze found inside a broken stone vessel

Archaeologists have found further evidence of a Viking presence in Arctic Canada.

Norse artefacts have been uncovered in mainland Canada and the Arctic islands over the past several decades.

Analysis of a broken stone vessel discovered on Baffin Island has shown it to be a crucible used for metalworking.

It could be the earliest evidence of high-temperature nonferrous metalworking north of Mesoamerica.

Mesoamerica describes an area of Central America and Mexico before Spanish exploration and conquest in the 1500s.

Archaeologists believe Norse seafarers travelled from Greenland to parts of Arctic Canada where they met hunters known as the Dorset, who mysteriously disappeared in the 14th Century.

The Dorset culture occupied parts of Canada for 2,000 years before Inuit moved in from Alaska.

The new research by Patricia Sutherland, a Canadian archaeologist with links to Scotland, Peter Thompson and Patricia Hunt has been published in a new paper, Evidence of Early Metalworking in Arctic Canada in the journal Geoarchaeology.

The crucible had previously been found in an archaeological locality known as the Nanook site.

Analysis by Ms Sutherland, Mr Thompson and Ms Hunt revealed traces of a bronze on the inside.

The crucible may have been brought to Canada by Norse seafarers travelling from Greenland or Iceland.

Among organisations approached for comparative studies carried out by the researchers for their paper was National Museums Scotland.

Dr Sutherland, an honorary research fellow at the University of Aberdeen, has spent 15 years investigating artefacts recovered from Arctic Canada.

Among collaborators in her work in the past have been Mary MacLeod, a Western Isles-based archaeologist and University of the Highlands and Islands lecturer.

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