Less A Map Of Vinland, More A Map Of Fakeland
Some uses of maps have remained relatively unchanged through the ages. We still use them to find out where we are and how to get somewhere else. Governments still use them to say "this is mine, that is yours". But as our planet has now been pretty comprehensively mapped, we don't use them to say "I got here first" that much anymore.
Which makes maps that prove that someone really did get there first extremely coveted and extremely valuable in about equal measures. The combination of value, national pride and good old human greed also makes early maps a fertile breeding ground for trickery and fakery.
The discovery of the fourth continent, after Europe, Asia and Africa, seems to have had more than its fair share of controversy.
Popular opinion holds that Cristoforo Columbo, better known as the anglicised Christopher Columbus, got to America first in 1492. Of course first is a loaded term; Columbus may have been the first European to set foot in the Americas but he certainly wasn't the first human on the continent. But did Columbus get there first?
Probably not; there's now growing evidence that a Norse expedition, led by Leif Ericson, landed on what is now Newfoundland in the 11th Century after being blown off course by a storm when travelling from Norway to Greenland. According to the Book of Icelanders, compiled around 1122 by Ari The Wise, Ericson first landed on a rocky and desolute place he named Helluland or Flat Rock Land, which may have been Baffin Island and then sailed for a further two days before landing again in a place he named Vinland, often mistranslated literally as Wineland but more likely to mean Land with Great Grass Fields.
Of course it would help if there was a map of Vinland, to underscore the I got there first point.