The Danish Viking Presence in South America, 1000-c.1250

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    Geoffrey Brooks

    Please note that we will exploring this topic in a series on maritime myths and legends in the Mariner’s Mirror Podcast. Enjoy! Dr Sam Willis, Editor.


    The most striking evidence for the Danish Viking presence in South America before the Conquest is the case of the Inca dog.

    It was the custom of the pre-Conquest Incas to be mummified with their dogs. A study of the graves at Ancon/Chile by N.Nehring in 1885 distinguished a variety of dog known as Cannis Ingae pecuaris (sheepdog).

    The analysis by French scientists Madeleine Friant and H. Reichlen determined that pecuaris could not possibly be a descendant of the wild dogs of South America, and they matched it to the description of Canis familiaris L.palustris Rüt, of which numerous skeletal remains have been discovered, all on the Danish island of Als/South East Jutland, at Bundsö.

    The anatomical coincidence is perfect. The French scientists were in no doubt that the mummified pre-Conquest Inca dogs must be descendants of the Danish sheepdog from Bundsö.

    The difficult part was accounting for how these Danish dogs got to South America before the Spanish Conquest. There are two possible explanations: (1) the scientific explanation offered by Friant and Reichlen and (2) the common-sense explanation.

    (1) Friant and Reichlen: “The Danish Vikings must have given some of their Bundsö sheepdogs to Norwegian Vikings. These Norwegian Vikings must have taken the dogs with them to the North American colony at Vinland. When the Norwegians on Vinland were ejected by the natives, they must have left the dogs behind. The native Indians must not have wanted the dogs, but instead of killing them crossed the water from Vinland to modern Canada where they must have given the dogs to other tribes. These other tribes must also not have wanted to keep the dogs and so passed them to yet more tribes to the south, the process being repeated down through the thousands of miles from the present United States” and onwards to Mexico and then to tribe after tribe through Guatemala to Honduras, Nicaragua, Costa Rica then Panama “from where they were conveyed by balsa raft to Venezuela, then along the coastal strips of Columbia and Ecuador and up in to the mountain heights of Peru where the Incas adopted the entire strain.”

    No evidence is offered to support this preposterous theory.

    (2) The common-sense theory is that Danish Vikings brought the dogs with them by drakkar to South America.

    Source: Mahieu, Jacques de: El rey vikingo del Paraguay, Hachette, 1979 citing:
    (i) Friant Madeleine: Du chien néolithique de Bundsö au chien des Vikings et au chien des Incas, Zurich 1955
    (ii) Fraint M, Reichlen, H: Deux chiens prehistoriques du désert d’Atacama, Chili: Lima 1950.
    (iii) Fraint, M: Le chien des Incas précolumbien et la découverte de l’Amerique, Paris 1964-65


    French archaeologist Jacques de Mahieu served in the Second World War as an officer with 33.Waffen-SS Grenadier Division Charlemagne. After emigrating to Argentina postwar he wrote several books on his research into the Viking presence along the coasts of Latin and South America. The most important of these books for physical evidence of the Viking presence is El rey del Paraguay (Hachette 1979).

    It would appear that the purpose of the presence of Danish Vikings in Paraguay between the years 1000 and c.1250 was to guard an installation of great importance.

    In May 1940, Fritz Berger, a Sudeten engineer with contacts in Munich but working for the army of Paraguay, concluded an agreement with the latter to form a joint archaeological team known as AGA. Their interest was a small mount of 40 metres elevation known as Yvyty Pero (Bald Mountain) located about 25 kilometres SE of the modern border town of Pedro Juan Caballero.

    Early in 1942 by when they had excavated a shaft 23 metres down inside the mountain, they came upon an object impossible to penetrate by drilling or explosives, apparently the roof of an enormous subterranean chamber. Work was suspended while awaiting advanced drilling equipment and more powerful explosives to be sent from Germany.

    In November 1942, US agents reported to the US naval attaché at Montevideo the arrival of a German U-boat at the Argentine naval base of Bahía Blanca, and also at the same time an unexplained visit by Major Pablo Stagni, C-in-C of the Paraguayan Air Force, known to the Americans as the German agent “Hermann”.

    Following this coincidence, excavation work continued immediately at Yvyty Pero and continued into 1944 when according to Mahieu the drillers were finally defeated by an “undoubtedly artificial material more resistant than reinforced concrete”.

    Soundings within the mountain provided the dimensions of a suspected burial chamber of 200 x 80 metres, of hollow structure “with perhaps 800 rooms”. De Mahieu considered it to be the burial chamber of the Great White King Ipir (after whom Yvyty Pero is now named) and other royalty from Tiahuanacu, the ancient Bolivian town on the shores of Lake Titicaca believed to have been in existence for more than 14,000 years.

    Source: Newton, Professor Ronald: Actividades clandestinas de la armada alemana en aguas argentinas, CEANA preliminary report to the Argentine Government, February 1998 at level of footnote 27, main text).

    Yvyty Pero was what the Danish Vikings were protecting for perhaps three centuries. In the concluding parts, it is not my intention to speculate about the burial chamber, but show why de Mahieu concluded from the evidence still extant in Paraguay that long before the Conquest, Vikings from Denmark, Schleswig and the Danelaw in England must have sailed from Europe to the coastal town of Santos/Brazil and made their way inland from there for the stated purpose.

    Geoffrey Brooks

    Please note that we will exploring this topic in a series on maritime myths and legends in the Mariner’s Mirror Podcast. Enjoy! Dr Sam Willis, Editor.


    The initial interest of the Danish Vikings in South America was not Paraguay but Bolivia. Strangely for Europeans so far from home in the 11th century, they seemed to know exactly where they were heading and how to get there cross country.

    Potosí was known for its gold and silver mines, whereas the choice of Tiahuanacu as the Viking capital was less understandable. A dead megalithic city at 12,500 feet altitude at latitude 18º22’S, it is situated in a region where neither corn nor maize will ripen and “capable of sustaining only a scanty population of hardy mountaineers and labourers. Its unsolved mystery is in the existence of the ruins of a great city at the southern side of Lake Titicaca built using enormous stones by masons as highly skilled as those who built the Egyptian pyramids(f/n 1).”

    The first post-Conquest expedition to South America from the South Atlantic to the Andes was that of Alejo García in 1521. In the Guayrá, the land lying between the Brazilian coast and Paraguay, García found a trail in perfect state of maintenance. This was one of the “soft trails” laid by the Vikings and known locally as peaviru. A peaviru was laid with grasses and gramineous plants which prevented hawthorns and other undesirable bushes growing within its borders.

    García’s itinerary was confirmed by ther explorer Alvar Nuñez Cabeza de Vaca in 1542. One of the villages through which they both passed was Tocanguzir:

    (Norse: toga, genitive plural of tog, ‘expedition’, and husir, Norse nominative plural of Norse hus, ‘house’, therefore ‘houses of the expedition’.

    A Jesuit map of 1609 places the Storting (Norse. Storting, Grand Assembly) near the present city of Ciudad del Este in Paraguay.

    The Danish Vikings came ashore at Santos, and trudged 500 kms west to Ourinho. The earlier Danish arrivals created the Southern Path discovered later by García and de Vaca mentioned above. Heading south-west, the Southern Path crossed the River Paraná at modern Salto del Guayra and continued south west to the important river junction at Asuncion. (A section of the peaviru has survived in the uplands of Caaguazú east of Asunción).

    At Asunción the Vikings were now faced with a boat voyage of 350 kms north along the River Paraguay to Weibingo (23º25’S) at the mouth of the River Ypané.

    The name ‘Weibingo’ appears on all the earliest Spanish maps but cannot have been thought up by the native Indians or the Spanish. It is latinized (Spanish difficulty in pronouncing ‘v’ changed by custom to ‘b’, and ‘o’ places stress on word correctly), and is derived:

    Norse: vej, ‘path’ and Norse: vink, ‘sign’ or German Winkel, ‘angle’, therefore ‘signpost to the path’ or ‘bend in the route’. It was at Weibingo that the Viking voyagers disembarked from the boats for the long march into Bolivia.

    Along the path to Bolivia was a village called Orthuesi derived from:

    German: Ort ‘district’, Quichua, huesi, ‘houses’ from Norse hus, therefore ‘district houses’, i.e. rest houses on the strategic pre-Inca path to the Altiplano upland plateau. The Vikings installed a guard at Orthuesi consisting of loyal Arahuak Indians. Their descendants can be identified by physical characteristics to this day. Their purpose was to intercept Guaraní intruders from the south and hostile Tupís from the north.

    It was a combined march and voyage of well over 1900 kms from the sea at Santos to the intermediate post at Weibingo (a little south of modern Concepción on the River Paraguay). Fairly soon after their arrival the Danish Vikings decided to seek a shorter route. This led to the creation of the Northern Path from Ourinho of only 1500 kms extent.

    Footnote: Immanuel Velikovsky, Earth in Upheaval, Dell, New York, 1955 at p.84

    Geoffrey Brooks

    Please note that we will exploring this topic in a series on maritime myths and legends in the Mariner’s Mirror Podcast. Enjoy! Dr Sam Willis, Editor.


    Ulrich Schmidel was a lancer with the 1552 Mendoza expedition which explored from the River Plate via Ourinhos to the Andes. He was literate. His chronicle of the expedition was published in Europe(1), and so he probably had a clandestine role as an observer.

    In his book, he related the finding of the Northern peaviru path at Ourinhos, and the existence of various villages along its route whose names were neither Spanish nor Portuguese, nor had they any meaning in the local native languages, but were recognizably Nordic.

    After crossing the River Paraná into Mato Grosso, after 100 kms the expedition came to a village and river bearing the name Ivinheim. Both exist today under the revised Brazilian orthography as Ivinhema, and can be found 100 kms east of modern Dourados. The nomenclature situation appears to be as follows:

    According to historian Natalicio Gonzalez(2), in 1593 an institution was set up “on the banks of San Salvador, Jaguarey or Ybynheima” (three names for the same river). San Salvador was what the Portuguese of the time called the river, therefore the double toponomy of “Yguarey/Jaguarey or Ivinheima” in the 1865 atlas of Martin Mopussy(3)) indicates that before the Spanish Conquest, the river had the native name Yguarey (Ygua=inhabitants, re=old, past, of antiquity, and y=river: therefore, ‘River of the inhabitants of antiquity’) and Ivinheima.

    Professor Jacques de Mahieu, a Frenchman, thought that Ivinheim probably meeant ‘The region where the palm tree mbocaya grows for making longbows’ (German heim, Norse heimr, ‘region of’ is correct, but to find any word of the time in any European language which had ivin as ‘yew’, which the palm tree mbocaya assuredly is not, he resorted to Cornish and Low Breton, both being a long, long way from Schleswig.

    Can we solve what Ivinheim actually did mean? In 1593 the locality was known to the Portuguese as Ybynheima or Yvynheima, the ‘b’ and ‘v’ being interchangeable. As has been demonstrated earlier, it was the practice of the Danish Vikings to name a place half with a local word, and the other half in German or Norse. The native word Yvyn means ‘lands, fields, campo’ the latter word in Portuguese meaning a vast area of grassland. The de Moussy atlas indicates that huge tracts of that area of Mato Grosso were suitable for raising cattle, sheep and horses; on the southern side of the river the map is endorsed, ‘natural open plains good for herds.’

    Therefore Ivinheim was probably originally Yvynheim which translates to ‘Region of the great grasslands’ or similar.

    From Yvynheim it was 500 kms to Weibingo. Crossing the Amambay hills 100 kms short of the destination one came to Cerro Corá 25 kms west of the modern border town of Pedro Juan Caballero. In this area many existing Viking discoveries were made by Professor de Mahieu but it is nowadays mainly a military prohibited area. These discoveries will be described in the Final Part which follows.


    (1) Schmidel, Ulrich: Wahrhafftige Historien einer wunderbaren Schiffart, Hulsius, 1602.
    (2) Gonzalez, J.Natalicio, Proceso y formación de la cultura paraguaya, Asunción 1948.
    (3) De Moussy, Martin, Dr.V: Atlas de la Confédératikon Argentine, Paris 1973.

    Geoffrey Brooks


    North of Highway 5 stands Itaguambypé (‘fortress’), a ridge 2 kms long and 100 metres high. At some time in the distant past the mountain was hollowed out and given a vertical defensive wall of tailored rock and stone. The engineers were undoubtedly the race of pre-Incas from the Altiplano. The design suggests a stockade with the fourth side being the river Aquidaban in a deep valley at the rear. A runic inscription has been found chiselled inside the mountain, however, and so the fortress was probably used later by the Vikings. A path runs along the crest, separated midway by an opening for access into the mountain. At the southern extremity of the path is the ruin of an observation platform giving a pnaoramic view of the coutryside.

    At Tacuati not far from the location of old Weibingo, Professor Mahieu excavated the stone foundations and walls of a Nordic temple 28 x 10 metres in dimension discovered below a farmer’s field. Nordic type pottery was found including the neck of a funeral urn.

    A major find of 150 grottoes and rock shelters was made by the Paraguayan Ministry of Public Works in the Amambay jungle in 1973. At Cerro Guazú, the world’s largest collection of runic insciptions, numbered in thousands, was found, seventy-one of which had been translated by the time the excavations were concluded. There is also a fine engraved sketch of the god Odin riding the horse Sleipnir.

    The South American futhorc is twenty-six characters including Anglo-Saxon, latinized and archaic usages, indicating the length of the Viking presence in the region. Some of the archaic runes were never used in Scandinavia and are local to Northern Germany. Runologist Professor Munk deduced from the Viking runes of the region that the settlers were not pure Danes, but came predominantly from Schleswig-Holstein and the Danelaw in England.

    Identifying Danish and German words in the native Quiché-Maya and Quichua languages led the runologists to conclude that an intermediate dialect distinct from classic Norse evolved over the centuries under the influence of the native languages which the Danes were forced to learn for their relationships with the local Indians, who were apparently forbidden to speak the Viking language. This tradition was followed later by the Incas with regard to their own language.


    There is enough material here to justify in every history book covering the period in question the inclusion of at least the sentence: “It is very possible that Vikings of Danish origin were present in Brazil, Bolivia and Paraguay before Columbus, and that they arrived by sea from Europe.”

    While despite its uncertainties ‘Vinland’ has academic recognition, no mention can ever be made, even to deny it, of Vikings in South America, for which substantial proof exists.

    The outcome of my personal enquiries is that the late Professor de Mahieu, an outcaste from the scientific fraternity for having been “a member of the Waffen-SS”, turned into an uncontrollable loose cannon and broadcast what should have been kept for ever secret and hidden, namely any mention of the necropolis.


    Jo M

    I thought after finding your post that maybe I can give an insight that this is possibly very true! I have been searching my DNA Heritage and found in the middle of my N.W. European and European ancestors between the years 1295 thru 1355 going back 27 generations I have Peruvian decent!

    When I first saw this my thoughts were “What the hell!” Then I found the story of the Vikings being in South America at this time. So, I guess you could say that I am living proof that this actually happened.

    Apparently, they had made it to the area, lived, flourished and then some decided to come back to Europe with their Peruvian wives and husbands, because the next entry in my lineage is 23 generations back and my family is back in the European area.

    I would love to learn more if I can. Apparently I am a great mix of many nationalities.

    John B

    @Jo M Your story is interesting but my research is showing that this is more likely Peruvians discovering Europe.”Europe was discovered when Native Americans shipwrecked in what is now Holland around 60 B.C., according to claims in a number of history books that call into question the history we all learned in school.”

    Lynn R

    My dna also has Peruvian from 1300, my mitochondrial haplotype is the same as the mummy little juanita.

    victor t

    @Jo M can you write to my email? I’m interested in your story.

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