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Did the Vikings Walk the Natchez Trace?

I’ve used my research about Meriwether Lewis as a springboard to study theories about how people populated North and South America. Scholars propose and debate theories from the outlandish to the plausible.

I enjoy them all.

I’ve written about the Welsh prince Madoc and the theory that his clan crossed the Atlantic in the 1100s and founded the Mandan tribe in South Dakota. Nobody’s ever found a shred of evidence to prove that tale.

But maybe the Mandans had blue-eyed, fair-haired folk for a different reason. Maybe that line of DNA came from the Vikings.

Archeologists have uncovered a Viking ship mired in Mississippi mud in the river near Memphis, Tennessee. Carbon dating puts its age at around 1000AD. It’s the first hard evidence that the Vikings penetrated far into the North American continent.

Why does that matter to me?


The predecessors of the Choctaw and Chickasaw tribes of Native Americans had sagas, much like the Vikings. The Mississippian peoples settled along the Natchez Trace and built the mounds you see today. Their folklore contains stories of vicious battles with red-haired peoples of unknown origin.

Could the Vikings have explored the Natchez Trace more than 1,000 years ago? Or perhaps they turned upriver and explored the Missouri watershed on foot? Maybe they split up and did both.

I can’t wait to see how this story unfolds.

You can read more about it by clicking here:




Yesterday’s Meriwether Lewis Birthday Month Trivia Question: IS ANYONE READING THESE MERIWETHER LEWIS TRIVIA QUESTIONS?

Thank you for answering that you are. I don’t want to keep including useless information if it’s boring you, Dear Reader.


To Live Forever: An Afterlife Journey of Meriwether Lewis is just $2.99 on Kindle during August in celebration of Meriwether Lewis’ Birthday Month.

Click here to read an excerpt.

Or click below to buy it.


To check out the entire Meriwether Lewis Birthday Month Series, follow the links below:

Lewis and Clark: Screwing Their Way Across a Continent
Lewis and Clark and Sex Bombs
Who Was Meriwether Lewis Godfather?
If Meriwether Lewis Had Lived to be 80
Lewis and Clark and Old Blue Eyes
The Lion Will Lie Down With the Lamb
My Natchez Trace Walk Featured in We Proceeded On
Dead People Follow Me And They Talk To Me
Is Suicide the Final Arbiter of a Life. For Robin Williams. And Meriwether Lewis.
WordPress Is Killing Me
Fate’s Fickle Fingering
Happy Birthday Meriwether Lewis
I Just Can’t Come
Guardians of the Neighborhood

46 Comments Post a comment
  1. You know Andra, as I read this post I had this subtle feeling of deep excitement picturing myself as a research assistant to someone who wrote novels / books about history of this sort! Hehehehe.

    August 21, 2014
    • The research can be very dry, Shree. 🙂 Just lots and lots of reading for me. Some travel, but mostly reading and googling.

      August 21, 2014
      • Ah…I actually like doing stuff like that…lol. I picture old libraries…big books…big old books, a notebook, lots of pens and pencils at hand…you know, that sort of stuff rocks my boat..hahahahaa

        August 22, 2014
  2. So much we don’t know about the world we live in.

    August 21, 2014
    • Mystery fuels imagination.

      August 21, 2014
    • if only they had used foursquare! lol

      August 21, 2014
    • I can see people a thousand years from now: Why did these people record all this stuff and put it in public? Who cared? 🙂

      August 21, 2014
      • they’ll think we had a god named Google and part of our worship of the great Google was to upload data to him, as a sacrifice for our sins.

        August 21, 2014
  3. Fascinating to contemplate the implications of this find. I like how it weaves smoothly into the fabric of the existing Native American folklore. Way cool.

    August 21, 2014
    • Who knows whether they’ll be able to somehow prove the Native American stories. I’ll be interested.

      August 21, 2014
  4. Living in Denmark, I’ve been to more than one Viking Ship museum, and I can tell you, it’s pretty impressive how far they made it in those boats. I mean, sure they’re lovely, but North America is a long way away. And they didn’t have bunks or cabins…..But they were a hearty, blood thirsty lot. I imagine they just wanted to find a bit of nice weather. 😉

    August 21, 2014
    • I can’t imagine how they traveled all that way in them, Dina.

      August 21, 2014
  5. Absolutely fascinating. I’m guessing they came from Greenland to what is now Newfoundland and Nova Scotia, then down the coast. It wouldn’t surprise me one little bit that they crossed the Atlantic, amazing seafarers.

    August 21, 2014
    • Archeology puts them as far south as New York State, but this is a lot more sailing from there.

      August 21, 2014
  6. Extrapolating . . . If some of those red-haired Vikings followed the Natchez Trace; if they, like those in the Lewis and Clark band of merry men, spread seed among the natives; and, if those offspring stayed to populate the hills of Tennessee . . . might your maternal ancestry have roots in Scandinavia?

    Just musing. 🙂

    A. “Guardians?”

    August 21, 2014
    • Both sides of my family are pretty consistent, with one exception: my mother’s side does contain some mingling with Native Americans. My great-grandmother on my mother’s side was 100%, I think. If anything like that happened, that would be the in.

      August 21, 2014
  7. Once upon a time, a Viking ship sat in Chicago’s Lincoln Park. Don’t remember the history, dating, etc., but, it was a huge, wooden structure that a group of latter day Vikings refurbished and moved somewhere else. It’s a wonder, isn’t it, how these groups traveled so long, long ago.

    August 21, 2014
    • I can’t imagine traveling oceans on those ships. They were made of sterner stuff than me. 🙂

      August 21, 2014
  8. What an amazing discovery — fascinating!

    August 21, 2014
    • I really enjoyed reading about it and have to thank Carnell for sending the link.

      August 21, 2014
  9. Your questions about the past automatically make me think of 1000 years from now and a vision of the questions those folks will ask. “Did this culture really think it was a big deal to get to the moon?” could be one. It is magical to think in both directions and why your posts are so good.

    August 21, 2014
    • Surely we’ll find a way to travel at the speed of light by then, which must approximate Star Trek’s beam me up. 🙂

      August 21, 2014
  10. You might be interested in a book I read recently – “The Warmth of Other Suns: The Epic Story of America’s Great Migration” by Isabel Wilkerson. While it does not discuss Vikings, it is an interesting read. I know it’s hot here but just think how much hotter you would be if you were in Charleston!!

    August 21, 2014
    • I’m pretty comfy up at Montreat. I have to head back to Charleston in the morning for a weekend with Kate Shrewsday.

      August 21, 2014
  11. My genetics are Viking on my paternal side. My maternal side is harder to pin down (haplogroup H58). Because I’m adopted, I have no idea or connection to any of it. Consequently, I love tales about little-known exploration. The Vikings were on this continent well before Columbus showed up and are finally starting to get some credit. There are also Welsh tales about the Navajo language. And Navajo connections to the Tibetan language. It just gets my imagination humming. The truth is probably much stranger that what we think we know.

    August 21, 2014
    • There are several references in Chinese lore about the Chinese being here earlier than Columbus.

      August 21, 2014
  12. The only viking Krista would be interested in knowing more about is this guy, so if you find out he is out there let her know immediately:

    August 21, 2014
  13. Fascinating stuff, Andra. I believe we are all more connected than we think as each generation has more than a few “super explorers” who are driven to go farther than anyone else. And yes, I’m reading the trivia questions. 🙂

    August 21, 2014
  14. tarakianwarrior #

    I love this idea. 😀

    August 21, 2014
  15. Very interesting, Andra!!! I’m so glad you’re doing such in-depth research!!

    August 21, 2014
  16. As with most quests, Andra, you’ll find information reaching out to you in the oddest of ways. I hope you find the answers you’re looking for… plus some further questions as well…

    August 21, 2014
  17. wow, what an exciting discovery, can’t wait to find out more –

    August 21, 2014
  18. Ok…that’s very cool.!! I personally love Vikings.!! I’m amazed at their ability to have traversed the world – true explorers and warriors. Just wow.!! Thanks for sharing – I’ve never heard that theory before 🙂

    August 21, 2014
  19. If Kirk Douglas was on board – probably. ODIN! – Spoof or not – it is worth a yarn Andra!

    August 22, 2014
  20. This just thrills my nerdy heart! I will certainly look it up.

    August 26, 2014
  21. I have heard of Prince Madoc before… I cannot imagine why or how. I had not heard of the Viking ship in the Mississippi mud near Memphis. I guess it may be possible they walked the Trace. What would it have been like back then do you think? Forrest, grassland?

    August 30, 2014

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