All the early settlements were hidden including those in the New World
L'Anse aux Meadows in Newfoundland, that Leif made a way station on the way to Vinland, is a pretty good example of how the villages were hidden.
The actual settlement was a line of buildings that appeared to be mounds. Parallel and to the right of the buildings runs a line of hills so the buildings appeared to be nothing more than just more hills.
You can the hills beyond where the building originally stood in this photograph and to the right of this one too.
Here is one of the actual hillocks at L'Anse aux Meadows that the dwellings were made to blend in with. There used to be many of these.
You can tell how the buildings had looked just like the hillocks. Since the archaeologists didn't have any standing Viking buildings to model their reproductions on they had to guess about the roofs and sides. In the original buildings the upper white colored windows didn't exist and dirt was heaped up against the sides to make them look like nothing more than hillocks. This should now be an 'Ah-Ha moment' for you.
People all know that the Viking men were adventurous and often out being 'Viking men'. Few realize that meant the women and children were left alone at home. They were vulnerable to any passing vessel including Native American's in canoes so their homes had to be hidden.
Someone needs to tell the archaeologists that the buildings were meant to be hidden. Then they can have an 'Ah-Ha moment' too.
A thousand years must have eroded most of the hillocks that were there since photos of the area show the land being pretty flat. It's probably lucky that there is still any land there after all the winds and the storms that the North Atlantic has thrown against that spit of land protruding out into the ocean over the last thousand years.
The original colony was built in a depression in the middle of a low hill so the roofs were only about five feet above the ground surrounding them. There was dirt piled against the sides which went up to the roof. You had to walk right up to the settlement and actually out on to the roof of one of buildings before you could even see it was there.
From the hills around the settlement you can see as far as Labrador to the south and far to the north. An approaching ship from any direction was invisible and the buildings at L'Anse aux Meadows just appeared like low hills to anyone approaching it in a ship or on land. Sod was grown in wooden frames that were the same shape and size of the doors. They could be in place in ten minutes and then a person could walk right through the middle of the settlement and see nothing at all.
More about how the villages were hidden in Iceland along with it's defenses. This is from a different Viking lifetime.
© 2005 John Pini