The passion which the Nordmen or Normans had always manifested for maritime expeditions, still prevailed among them in the cold and inhospitable regions of Iceland and Greenland. An Icelander, named Herjolf, was accustomed to make a trading voyage every year to different countries, in which latterly he was accompanied by his son, Biorn. About the year 1001, their ships were separated by a storm, and Biorn learned on his arrival in Norway that his father had sailed for Greenland, to which place he resolved to follow his father; but another storm drove him a great way to the south-west of his intended course, and he fell in with an extensive flat country covered all over with thick woods; and just as he set out on his return, he discovered an island on the coast. He made no stay at either of these places; but the wind being now fallen, he made all the haste he could to return by a north-east course to Greenland, where he reported the discovery which he had made.
Lief, the son of Eric-raude, who inherited from his father an inordinate desire of distinguishing himself by making discoveries and planting colonies, immediately fitted out a vessel carrying thirty-five men; and taking Biorn along with him, set sail in quest of this newly discovered country. The first land discovered in this voyage was barren and rocky, on which account Lief gave it the name of Helleland, or Rockland. Proceeding farther, they came to a low coast having a sandy soil, which was overgrown with wood, for which reason it was called Mark-land, or the Woody-land. Two days after this they again saw land, having an island lying opposite to its northern coast; and on the mainland they discovered the mouth of a river, up which they sailed. The bushes on the banks of this river bore sweet berries; the temperature of the air was mild, the soil fertile, and the river abounded in fish, particularly in excellent salmon. Continuing to sail up the river, they came to a lake, out of which the river took its rise; and here they passed the winter. In the shortest day of winter, the sun remained eight hours above the horizon; and consequently the longest day, exclusive of the dawn and twilight, must have been sixteen hours. From this circumstance it follows, that the place in which they were was in about 49 deg. of north latitude; and as they arrived by a south-westerly course from Old Greenland, after having cleared Cape Farewell, it must either have been the river Gander or the Bay of Exploits, in the island now called Newfoundland. It could not be on the northern coast of the Gulf of St Lawrence; as in that case, they must have navigated through the straits of Belleisle, which could not have escaped their notice. In this place they erected several huts for their accommodation during winter; and they one day found in the thickets a German named Tyrker, one of their own people, who had wandered among the woods and been missing for some time. While absent, he had subsisted upon wild grapes, from which he told them that in his country they used to make wine; and from this circumstance Lief called the country Winland det gode, or Wine-land the good.