Helge Ingstad

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Ingstad in his trapper days (photo from "The Land of Feast and Famine").
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Ingstad in his trapper days (photo from "The Land of Feast and Famine").

Helge Marcus Ingstad (December 30, 1899March 29, 2001) was a Norwegian explorer. After mapping some Norse settlements, Ingstad and his wife Anne Stine, an archaeologist, in 1961 found remnants of a Viking settlement in L'Anse aux Meadows on Newfoundland. With that they were the first to conclusively prove that the Icelandic/Norwegian Vikings had found a way across the Atlantic Ocean to North America, roughly 500 years before Christopher Colombus and John Cabot.

Helge Ingstad was originally a lawyer by profession, but, ever an outdoorsman, he sold his successful law practice in Levanger and went to Canada's Northwest Territories as a trapper in 1926. After returning to Norway, he wrote the bestselling The Land of Feast and Famine (Knopf, 1933).

Ingstad was the governor of Erik the Red's Land in 1932–33, when Norway annexed that eastern part of Greenland. The International Court of Justice in The Hague decided that the lands belonged to Denmark, and so the official Norwegian presence had to end. Following the verdict, Ingstad was summoned by the government to the job as governor of Svalbard (Spitsbergen and the surrounding islands); a position suiting him uniquely, considering his profession of law and his experience in polar living.

During his years on Svalbard Helge Ingstad met his wife, Anne Stine, more than twenty years his junior. She had read his books from Canada and Greenland with great admiration, and got a crush on the explorer; she wrote him, and after some time of correspondence and dating they were engaged and married. In 1946 the Ingstads made themselves a home near the Holmenkollen area of Norway's capital, Oslo, where they had their base for the rest of their lives (when not travelling the world, that is). They had one daughter, Benedicte, who became an archaeologist like her mother. From her teenage years, Benedicte accompanied her parents on their exploration journeys.

Helge Ingstad passed away in Oslo at the age of 101. During the last few years of his life, he worked on categorizing and annotating a large amount of photos and audio recordings (141 songs) he had made while living with an Alaskan Eskimo tribe, the Nunamiuts, in 1950. The effort resulted in a booklet, Songs of the Nunamiut, with an accompanying CD containing the audio material.

Books

  • Ingstad, Helge; Gay-Tifft, Eugene (translator) (1992). The Land of Feast and Famine. McGill-Queens University Press. ISBN 0773509127.
  • Ingstad, Helge; Ingstad, Anne Stine (2001). The Viking Discovery of America: The Excavation of a Norse Settlement in L'Anse Aux Meadows, Newfoundland. Checkmark Books. ISBN 0816047162.
  • Ingstad, Helge; Groven, Eivind (transcriptions); Tveit, Sigvald (ed.) (1998). Songs of the Nunamiut. Oslo: Universitetsforlaget. ISBN 8251837782.

External links

nn:Helge Ingstad

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