Despite what you learned in grade school, Christopher Columbus and his crew were not the first Europeans to land in North America. In fact, many Europeans probably preceded Columbus. Some even stayed for a while and settled in. One of the better documented European villages may be found at L’Anse aux Meadows, Newfoundland.
Some time around 1000 A.D., Norsemen landed on Newfoundland, where they set up a small village. Though this inhospitable spit of land would eventually come to be populated by Canadians, its original inhabitants were forgotten until one day in 1960, when an explorer, an archaeologist, and a nurse were visiting the remote community of L’Anse aux Meadows.
In L’Anse aux Meadows, Helge and Anne Stine Ingstad discovered a series of overgrown rectangles near Epaves Bay. Knowing that Norse farms in Greenland were built at the heads of shallow bays near freshwater, the Ingstads began an excavation. Over the next seven years, Anne and an international team uncovered a treasure trove of archaeological information.
You can read more about this fascinating discovery in an article by Lorraine Boissoneault in the JSTOR Daily web site at http://daily.jstor.org/anse-aux-meadows-and-the-viking-discovery-of-north-america/.