westward from eire Manual
They said also that there were no houses, and the people lived in caves or holes. They said, moreover, that there was a land on the other side over against their land, and the people there were dressed in white garments, uttered loud cries, bore long poles, and wore fringes.
This was supposed to be Hvitramannaland White Man's Land. Then came they to Greenland, and remained with Eirik the Red during the winter. In the Eyrbyggja saga , Gudleif Gudlaugson with his crew had attempted to sail from Dublin to Iceland , but was instead driven out to sea, "first west and then south-west, well out of sight of land". They finally arrived in a land; they did not know where, but it seemed great. Later, the inhabitants of the land came to meet them, and the Norse thought they seemed to speak Irish.
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Soon, hundreds of these people came to attack and capture the Norsemen, and marched them inland to a court to be tried and sentenced. The Norse then understood that these people wanted either to kill or to enslave them, but were soon saved by the intervention of an Icelandic-speaking leader-figure who lived among the people. He started asking detailed questions about people in Borgarfjord and Breidafjord in Iceland, and gave the Norse some items to pass on to specific people there.
He also claimed that Gudleif had been lucky to arrive at the place, because "this is a big country and the harbours are few and far between". Although the man did not want to reveal his own identity reportedly to keep his "kinsmen and blood-brothers" from getting in trouble by trying to visit him , the Norse later took him to have been Bjorn the Breidavik-Champion, who had been exiled from Iceland some thirty years earlier. The described circumstances in this report have led some to connect it with Great Ireland, although the Eyrbyggja saga does not make this explicit identification.
In the 12th century, in Norman Sicily where the Normans probably brought the belief with them from Scandinavia , the Arab geographer al-Idrisi in his famous Tabula Rogeriana mentioned Irlandah-al-Kabirah Great Ireland.
In a 16th-century Icelandic text, a chart had apparently been made of the land; . Sir Erlend Thordson had obtained from abroad the geographical chart of that Albania, or land of the White men, which is situated opposite Vinland the good, of which mention has been before made in this little book, and which the merchants formerly called Hibernia Major or Great Ireland, and lies, as has been said, to the west of Ireland proper.
Kirsten Seaver identified the land as a fabled country, which had arisen on the background of the faded knowledge of lands in the far western ocean by Icelanders.
Rafn based his identification on Shawnee Amerindian legends of a race described as "white men who used iron instruments". These legends he connected to the description of the inhabitants of Greater Ireland as being white people who carried poles. Other sources place Great Ireland in Newfoundland , Canada. George's Bay , and was populated by Papar who had fled first Iceland and then Greenland escaping Norse invaders.
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. American Geographical Society of New York.
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