The oldest account of Bigfoot was recorded in 986 AD by Leif Ericson and his men. During their first landing in the New World, the Norsemen wrote about manlike beasts that were “horribly ugly, hairy, swarthy and with great black eyes.”

Among his accounts, Leif told of seeing huge hairy men who towered over him and his men. The “huge hairy men”, according to Leif, lived in the Woods and had a rank odour and a deafening shriek. It should be noted that Leif Ericson and his men describe huge manlike beasts that were loud and foul-smelling and clearly distinct from native peoples. Apparently, Leif had several sightings of the “huge hairy men” before departing the island.

They called the creature “Skellring”. People believe that the creature “Skellring” is what we know today as Bigfoot. This is the earliest recorded encounter with Bigfoot, or Sasquatch.

I find this very intriguing and most credible. To have documented such creatures and to have experienced them says a lot coming from this time frame. Hoaxing was not a Vikings style. Explorers make/take notes of their Discoveries and travels.

On other notes and Translations

Since then, I’ve wondered if this is a common argument among Bigfoot enthusiasts. After some investigating, I have discovered that it is not an uncommon argument. This account from the show “Ancient Mysteries: Bigfoot” is typical:

The oldest account of Bigfoot was recorded in 986 AD by Leif Ericson and his men. During their first landing in the New World, the Norsemen wrote about monsters that were horribly ugly, hairy, swarthy and with great black eyes.

It’s almost always Leif Ericson who is credited with discovering not only North America, but also Bigfoot. It’s never one of the later Norse explorers. The year 986 also recurs, as does the description. There are also often references to Leif writing about or recording his encounter. Almost all these details are impossible.

Two sagas deal with the Norse discovery of America: Greenlanders’ Saga (Grænlendinga saga) and the Saga of Eric the Red (Eiríks saga rauða). In both sagas, Leif’s single voyage to the New World is described rather briefly. In both, the most significant things he finds are the grapes and vines which provide Vinland with its name. In Eric’s Saga, Leif sees no animals at all. In Greenlanders’ Saga, he sees salmon (lax) larger than any he had seen before. While large, the fish are not said to be hairy; there is no mention of feet.

The date 986 is very specific, and I haven’t figured out where it comes from. No one knows exactly when the Norse discovered Vinland, but, based on information from the sagas, the initial sighting seems to have taken place around 1000. Leif hadn’t been born in 986, and his father had not yet settled in Greenland. This is important: there is a logical progression from Iceland to Greenland to Vinland.

If the discovery occurred around 1000, it was more or less contemporary with the Christian conversion of Iceland and Greenland. Eric’s Saga claims that Leif accidentally discovered Vinland when he got blown off course traveling from Norway to Greenland on a mission from King Olaf Tryggvason to convert the Greenlanders. This story is generally agreed to be untrue, but the general time period is probably right. One of the perks of conversion was a shiny new alphabet. Well, okay, a slightly used alphabet. But not even the Icelanders (who took to writing with wild abandon) started writing within a week or two. The stories weren’t written down for centuries after the events described. It is true, of course, that the Norse had the Runic alphabet, but it seems unlikely that Leif schlepped around a supply of big rocks so that he could record a journal or captain’s log.

Absurd as they are, these details appear over and over, sometimes with extra absurdities added on. Rick Emmer, in his book Bigfoot: Fact or Fiction, says:

Vikings led by Leif Ericson made their way to the East Coast of North America in 986 CE. It was there that they reported seeing an “horribly ugly, hairy, swarthy and with big black eyes” (Ericson, Leif. 986 CE) creature. They called the creature “Skellring”. People believe that the creature “Skellring” is what we know today as Bigfoot. But it is possible that the Aboriginals were playing a prank on the vikings by wearing large animal hides. This Bigfoot sighting was the first to be recorded in North America.

I love the way he cites Leif parenthetically as his source, in (almost) proper APA style. One website suggests that Bigfoot were an aboriginal tribe:

[Leif described] encounters with huge hairy men, with a horrible odor and  piercing shrieks. L’Anse aux Meadows…is the only known village settlement by the Vikings in this area around 1000 AD. That region was inhabited by Native people from back to 6000 BP. Native people who surely had dealt with the local Bigfoot. Is it possible that the Vikings landed on a continent that had two tribes? One Native American and one being Bigfoot? If and [sic] upright human-like being can manage to stay well hidden from man, showing a good degree of intelligence, then when we refer to Bigfoot, are we not referring to the “other” tribe of the Americas?

A similar account was recorded by the Gulf Coast Bigfoot Research Organization:

It is a little known historical fact that the first Sasquatch encounter was perhaps observed by the vikings who settled on the island of Newfoundland in Eastern Canada….Leif kept a record of his journey across the Atlantic, from Iceland to Greenland, and of his experiences whilst in Newfoundland, the last point of land on his voyage. Among his accounts, Leif told of seeing huge hairy men who towered over him and his Berzerker crew (and the vikings are known to have been large men). The “huge hairy men”, according to Leif, lived in the Woods and had a rank odour and a deafening shriek. Apparently, Leif had several sightings of the “huge hairy men” before departing the island.

DESCRIPTION OF CREATURE:  Towering height, hairy, man-like, rank smell, deafening verbal tones., The natives of Newfoundland, the Beothuck (now extinct), most likely had similar relations to the Sasquatch like other native bands, especially those of Western Canada (ie Bella Coola). Leif’s accounts spoke of his meeting of a race of men (seperate [sic] from the “huge hairy men”), which were almost certainly the Beothuck.

It should be noted that neither Leif nor the later Norse explorers of Vinland were Vikings: properly speaking, “Viking” refers specifically to raiders. They certainly weren’t Berserkers. While the Norse explorers have become insane, frothing warriors in this account, Bigfoot has become huge, loud, foul-smelling and clearly distinct from native peoples.

So where does the story of Leif and Bigfoot come from? I believe it comes from Peter Byrne’s The Search for Big Foot: Monster, Myth or Man? and he drew on Samuel Eliot Morison’s The European Discovery of America: The Northern Voyages, A.D. 500-1600, though Morison did not mention Bigfoot. Byrne, who appears on the “Ancient Mysteries” program, refers to Morison’s account of the Norse discoveries, particularly:

an encounter by Leif Erikson and his men, during their first landing in the New World, with creatures that were pictured as “horribly ugly, hairy, swarthy and with great black eyes. 

While Byrne admits that this case is “borderline” and that the “creatures” were probably “simply Indians,” he still thinks it may have been Bigfoot. Why? Because they were hairy:

The Norse word “skellring” is a term of contempt. It means, roughly, a “babarian.” But what caught my eye . . . was the word “hairy.” The Norse were a hairy people themselves, big men with matted hair and beards. Why did they remark on the “skellring” being hairy? Was it because they were very much hairier than the Norsemen, even covered with hair, perhaps? If the encounter had been between, say, Tibetans, who are not a hirsute people, and the “skellring,” one could understand the reference to hairiness. But why the Norse mention?

Bio and brief history continued:

Born in the 10th century, Norse explorer Leif Eriksson was the second son of Erik the Red, who is credited with settling Greenland. For his part, Eriksson is considered by many to be the first European to reach North America, centuries ahead of Christopher Columbus. However, the details of his voyage are a matter of historical debate, with one version claiming his landing accidental and another that he had sailed there intentionally after learning of the region from earlier explorers. In either case, Eriksson eventually returned to Greenland, where he had been commissioned by Norwegian king Olaf I Tryggvason to spread Christianity and is believed to have died circa 1020. In the early 1960s, the discovery of the ruins of a Viking settlement in Newfoundland lent further weight to accounts of Eriksson’s voyage, and in 1964 the United States Congress authorized the president to proclaim each October 9 as Leif Eriksson Day.

Leif the Mysterious

Although various accounts exist, the differences in their details often make it difficult to separate fact and legend when discussing the life or Norse explorer Leif Eriksson. He is believed to have been born circa 960–970 A.D., the second of three sons of Erik the Red, who founded the first European settlement on what is now Greenland. As Erik the Red’s father had been banished from Norway and settled in Iceland, it is likely that Leif was born there and raised in Greenland. However, from here the facts become as diverse as the spelling of his name.


By most accounts, around the year 1000, Eriksson sailed from Greenland to Norway where he served in the court of King Olaf I Tryggvason, who converted him from Norse paganism to Christianity. Soon thereafter, Olaf commissioned Eriksson to proselytize across Greenland and spread Christianity to the settlers there as well. Although Eriksson would eventually make it back to Greenland, it is the details and motives of his return route that are the subject of most debate.

In the 13th-century Icelandic account The Saga of Erik the Red, Eriksson’s ships are said to have drifted off course on the return voyage home, finding dry ground at last on the North American continent. They are most likely to have disembarked in what is now Nova Scotia, which Eriksson named Vinland, perhaps in reference to the wild grapes that his landing party saw there. However, The Saga of the Greenlanders, which dates to the same era, suggests that Eriksson had heard already learned of “Vinland” from another seamen, Bjarni Herjólfsson, who had already been there more than a decade earlier, and that Eriksson sailed there on purpose, landing first in an icy region he named “Helluland” (believed now to be Baffin Island) and the heavily forested “Markland” (thought to be Labrador) before eventually making his way eventually to the more hospitable Vinland.

Whatever his motives, or the lack thereof, Eriksson is generally credited as the first European to set foot on the shores of North America, nearly five centuries before Christopher Columbus would arrive in 1492. But all suggest that Eriksson was most likely a member of an early Viking voyage to North America, if not, in fact, the leader of that first expedition.


Despite his exploration, Eriksson would never colonize the region, nor did his brothers Thorvald Eriksson and Freydis Eiríksdóttir or Icelander Thorfinn Karlsefni, who visited Vinland after Eriksson. Returning to Greenland, Eriksson spent his efforts spreading Christianity. His mother, Thjodhild, became an early convert and built Greenland’s first Christian church, at Brattahlid, Erik the Red’s home in the east of the settlement. As for Eriksson, he is believed to have lived out his life in Greenland, dying somewhere around the year 1020.

The exact location of Vinland is not known, but in 1963 ruins of an 11th-century Viking settlement were discovered at L’Anse-aux-Meadows in northern Newfoundland. Now labeled a UNESCO National Historic Site, it is the oldest European settlement to have been found in North America, and more than 2,000 Viking objects have been recovered from it, supporting accounts that Eriksson and his men wintered there before setting sail for home.


In recognition of Eriksson’s pioneering voyage, in September 1964 the United States Congress authorized the president of the United States to declare each October 9 as Leif Eriksson Day, a national day of observance. Over the years, various groups have attempted to elevate the celebration, but due in part to the fact that Christopher Columbus’s later voyage resulted more directly in European migration to North America, its status has remained unchanged.

Despite this, Leif Eriksson’s voyage is commemorated by statues throughout the United States, and in Newfoundland, Norway, Iceland and Greenland, and Iceland’s Exploration Museum annually presents its Leif Eriksson Awards for achievements in the field of exploration.

Why is this not Taught in School ?