Washington, July 30 : Ruins recently discovered on Greenland may be the Vikings' most northerly year-round hunting outpost on the icy island.
According to Knut Espen Solberg, leader of 'The Melting Arctic' project mapping changes in the north, the remains uncovered in past weeks in west Greenland may also be new evidence that the climate was less chilly about 1,000 years ago than it is today.
"We found something that most likely was a dock, made of rocks, for big ships up to 20-30 metres (60-90 ft) long," he said.
Solberg said that the expedition, linked to Norwegian climate research institutes and including an archaeologist, reckoned the dock was probably built by Vikings because the Inuit only used small kayaks and had no need for a large quay.
The team, which came upon the ruins during their expedition, also found remains of several small stone buildings nearby. Both Inuit and Vikings had similar building styles.
According to Christian Keller, a professor of archaeology at Oslo University, the buildings were similar to Viking structures in west Norway but that the dock was unlike known Viking quays.
Solberg said that Vikings in Greenland were unlikely to have built with wood, traditionally used in Scandinavia for docks. A wooden structure would not have survived thick winter ice.
He said that further study and carbon dating were needed to pinpoint the site's age.
"This is the furthest north on Greenland that evidence of year-round Viking activity has been found," Solberg said of the finds in an area called Nuussuaq. "At the time the Vikings were living here, it was warmer than today," he added.
Any carbon dating placing the site between 900-1400 would make it 'an exciting find' from the Vikings. A later date could mean it was built by European whalers in the 16th century.