For those who think that the sagas are more fiction than truth, let me add that in 2001 a team of scientists found the outline of Gudrid's house, and it was right where the Saga's said it would be. It is located at Glaumbaer, in Iceland, which means " Farm of the Merry Noise ". In these four unearthed rooms Gudrid lived her life. That is when she was not out exploring new lands with her husbands, or traveling on her own to Rome as she did in her twilight years. The archaeologists found such personal items as needles, combs, spoons and pins at the dig site. Whether they belonged to her personally is only speculation, but they are from the right period, and the house does appear to be the one mentioned in the Sagas.
Gudrid was a woman of striking appearance; she was very intelligent, and knew very well how to conduct herself amongst strangers. That is how the Sagas describes her. Unfortunately her name is hidden behind that of her husband's memories most of the time , especially Thorfinn Karlsefni who was the leader of one of the later expeditions to Vinland. Gudrid, however was truly the "Far traveler" that Nancy Marie Brown wrote about in her 2007 book on her. She outlived three husbands, traveled from Norway to Iceland, Iceland to Greenland, and then of course to the New World, where she gave birth to what is called the first white European child born on the North American continent .
We first hear of Gudrid when she is just 14 years old, and married to a man called Thorir the Easterner. The ship that she and her husband had been traveling on became shipwrecked on its way from Norway to Greenland, when they came too close to the coast and became wrecked on the rocks that extended out into the ocean. Though 15 were rescued off of the rocks by Leif Eiriksson, who was returning home at the time, 14 of the 15 died on the journey home including of course her husband Thorir the Easterner. Young, and alone, with no wealth to speak of, she was taken under the protection of Leif Eiriksson, who had become the leader of the Greenland Colony after the death of his father Eirik the Red. It was while under the care of Leif that she met another son of Eirik the Red, Thorstein Eiriksson, and eventually married him.
Thorstein Eiriksson then became intent upon voyaging back to Vinland to retreive the body of his brother Thorvald, who had died there on an earlier expedition. It says in the Sagas that he made ready the same ship , and selected his crews for their strength and size. He took with him 25 men and his wife Gudrid, and as soon as they were ready they put to sea and out of sight of land. They were tossed about in the open sea all summer, and did not know where they were. They barely made it back to Lysefjord, in Greenland, before winter fully set in. Obviously not all voyages were sucessful ! In one of the versions Gudrid is already married to him and is with him on the voyage, in the other she is at home and marries him on his return. Either way later Thorstein Eiriksson died after a long illness, and once again poor Gudrid was widowed and alone.
I want to end part one with a strange story that is told about her husband's death in the Sagas. As she ( Gudrid ) was sitting with Thorstein the Black, amongst the bodies of those who had recently died of the mysterious illness that had hit the colony, the body of her dead husband, Thorstein Eiriksson, suddenly rose, sat up, and asked, "Where is Gudrid ?" Gudrid shocked asked Thorstein the Black if she should answer him or not ? Thorstein the Black answered no, but walked across the room and sat down on a stool with Gudrid on his knee, and asked her dead husband what is was that he wanted. Her husband replied, " I am anxious to tell Gudrid of her destiny, so that she may resign herself better to my death. " He then went on to say that she would marry an Icelander, and that she would have a long and happy life together with her new husband. He told her that she would travel to Norway, and from there to Iceland where she would make her home. You will survive your husband he told her, and go on a pilgrimmage to Rome, then return to your farm in Iceland, to your own church. You will be ordained a nun, and stay there until you die, he told them before laying back down to his dead sleep.
Thorstein the Black kept his promise to Gudrid, and put her on a ship, with all her possessions, and sent her back to Thorstein's brother, Leif Eiriksson, and that is where we will pick up the story tommorrow.
Go with Odin's wisdom, Freyja's love and Thor's protection !