When you think about Vikings, the first picture that might come to mind is one of fierce warriors wearing horned hats. But did you know that the storied Scandinavians were also avid builders of green-roofed homes? While the three sod-topped longhouses that sit on the remains of a 1,000-year-old Norse colony at L'Anse aux Meadows are just reconstructions, they were built to exemplify the sustainable architecture that the Vikings knew about centuries before LEED. Located on the northernmost tip of Newfoundland in Canada, the grass-topped homes almost seem to disappear into the grassy landscape.
L’Anse aux Meadows is the only known site of a Norse village in Canada, and in North America outside of Greenland. When it was a bustling town, the settlement had three timber and sod longhouses as well as five smaller buildings that were built by the Vikings, all built five centuries before Christopher Columbus set foot on this continent. While those structures are long gone, historical reconstructions were erected in their footprints based on the traces that the Norse left behind. The homes are made of an inner frame of wood covered with thick patches of sod, making these houses very sturdy, as opposed to plain wooden structures. The roofs are then also covered with sod that acts as a natural insulator.
In 1978, the site and its archaeological remains were declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Inside the homes, exhibits showcase the Viking lifestyle and artifacts.