Just think. If the Vikings had made just that little extra effort to stay on in America when they first arrived just over 1000 years ago then the modern history of not only North America but the whole continent might have started 500 years earlier in 992AD rather than 1492AD.
And that would have meant there would be an extra 500 years of this enthalling history to read; and an extra 500 years of the American dream to follow.
They couldn't have been too far from staying - after all they had already started permanent settlements on both Iceland and Greenland and surely North America must have seemed a pretty attractive proposition compared to either of those cold, inhospitable, barren lands.
Even their own records, their sagas, are full of vivid descriptions of the amazing landscapes across what is nowadays New England, with the sandy beaches, wooded hills and fast-flowing torrents; not to mention the plentiful supplies of salmon, game and wild grapes and the endless forests of timber. And don't forget these were the very same tough, formidable warriors who had already conquered much of England, Ireland and northern France. They were certainly no weaklings!
No, something must have put them off big time, because although both their sagas and modern archaeology confirm that they definitely DID reach North America, by 1002AD, a mere 10 years after their first sighting of the previously unknown land, they had loaded their longships with their possesions and livestock and headed back to Greenland for the last time.
Surely the distance didn't put them off, and the climate would have been much kinder than they were accustomed too in Greenland, Iceland or their native Scandinavia, and we know they had plenty of food and resources.
No, it must have been the Skraelings (the Viking name for the natives - meaning savages) who ended their dream. The very same AmerIndians who were to give the English settlers such a torrid time over 600 years later and who all but spelt the end of English colonization of North America too. It was the Skraelings who forced them to retreat and even put them off any further attempts to return to the great lands to the west.
The Vikings were just too few in numbers and too unprepared to tackle such a ferocious onslaught. They retreated wisely, reasoning that they would be better off as live Vikngs on freezing Greenland than dead Vikings in warm and pleasant America.
Things might have been different, but then. . . . . .
This excerpt is from Discovery - The Story of America by Anthony Treasure. This book is already published in the UK (listed on Amazon.co.uk) and is due to be published in the US at a later date. For now it is published as an ebook and as a SPECIAL INTRODUCTORY OFFER Discovery Part One is available to download COMPLETELY FREE OF CHARGE. Three further titles - Discovery Part Two, Colonization Part One and Colonization Part Two are also out as ebooks and can be bought and downloaded from the website. To claim your free ebook today simply visit http://www.farawaybooks.com