Documentary Evidence: Writing-consistency


In a few places on the Map, the writing is not what one would expect for a 15th century map. Do these inconsistencies identify the Map as a forgery?

Translations from Old Norse into Latin.

The writer stumbled here - being obviously well versed in Latin but not in Old Norse. Could a 15th century mapmaker have made these errors or are they the mistakes of a modern forger?

  • The Latin form for the Norse suffix -land is given as -landa not -landia. Thus Vinland is labeled Vinlanda on the Map but should be Vinlandia. The same holds for several other names Isolanda, Ierlanda, etc.
  • The Latin name for Bjarni is Biarno. but Bjarnus is given.
  • The Latin name for Leif Eiriksson is not leiphus erissonius, as given. Eiriksson, Latinized, should be either Erici or Erici filius.

On the middle line, Leif Eiriksson’s name is given in the incorrect latinized form leiphus erissonius.

An inconsistent legend for Vinland on the Vinland Map.

The legend disagrees with the Vinland Sagas as to whom discovered Vinland. The legend cites Bjarni and Leif Eiriksson as the first discoverers:

By God's will, after a long voyage... Bjarni and Leif Eiriksson discovered a new land, ...the which island they named Vinland.

But the Vinland Sagas state that Leif Eiriksson, but not Bjarni, discovered Vinland. The Sagas are remarkably reliable. They were passed down, generation to generation by oral tradition and then written down some 200 years later. How could the Map and the Sagas disagree if The Map, as claimed, used information derived from the Sagas?

Kirsten Seaver provides the following explanation that convinces her that the Map is a forgery. There was indeed a time when the world thought that Bjarni and Leif had jointly discovered Vinland. Crantz's 1765 History of Greenland stated as much and Crantz's error resulted from his mis-reading of the literature. Crantz's book was widely read for over a hundred years. Anyone forging the Vinland Map during that period, would follow Crantz and give joint credit to Bjarni and Leif. A 19th century forger could well have made this mistake.

Many inconsistencies in the Map are hard to explain. Can the authenticity of the Map be determined without explaining all of these inconsistencies? Can we, for example, judge the Map to be false because the ink is modern, if this cannot explain how Bjarni's name appears in the Vinland legend? Kirsten Seaver answers this question. The inclusion of Bjarni's name does have a possible explanation and this explanation is not linked to the condition of the Map's ink.

  • Can the authenticity of the Map be determined without explaining all of its inconsistencies?
  • Can the inconsistencies in the writing identify the Map as a forgery?