Mungo Park and the Exploration of the Niger River – Part 1

mungo-parkIn 1795, Mungo Park, a young Scottish doctor, set out for West Africa under the sponsorship of the African Association.

Park’s goals were to find the elusive Niger River – which no European had ever set their eyes on – as well as locate the legendary city of Timbuktu.

It would be an epic journey filled with hardship, lose and triumph.


Mungo Park’s journeys (in green).

All images courtesy of Wikipedia.

John Cabot and the Exploration of North America

john_cabotJohn Cabot, aka Giovanni Caboto, strikes out into the North Atlantic to become the first European to land in North America since the Vikings.

On his next voyage, Cabot would lead of fleet of ships west – only to have them disappear forever.


Bristol University’s Cabot Project is the most comprehensive site for all things Cabot. There are links to various research papers, analysis and much more.

The John Day letter is a rare original source item. It is pretty much contains the only mention of Cabot’s first voyage.

As always, Wikipedia provides a great amount of information about Cabot.


Replica of Cabot’s ship Matthew.

All images from Wikipedia.

Erik the Red and Leif Erikson

The father and son team of Erik the Red and Leif Erikson represent the most famous Viking explorers. Erik would found the Greenland colony in the 980s, while Leif would become the first European to set foot on the North American continent – as well as establish a settlement.


This map gives an idea of the locations of various places in the Viking world – and the routes taken by Erik the Red and Leif Erikson. Map source: Wikipedia.


I used many sources, but some of the more recent books included Neil Oliver’s The Vikings: A New History as well as Vikings: The North Atlantic Saga, edited by William F. Fitzhugh and Elisabeth Ward.

For the Icelandic Sagas, the Icelandic Saga Database was awesome. It’s all free – so enjoy the fun.

Wikipedia has a lot of great information about our podcast:


The knarr was a cargo vessel used by the Vikings during this era. The ship was deeper and wider than the traditional Norse longship, and more suited to longer sea voyages.

This model can be found in the Hedeby Viking Museum in Germany.


Leif Erikson statue at the Minnesota State Capital in St. Paul. Source: Wikipedia.