Monday, March 21, 2011

Kensington Runestone

Discovered: 1898
In 1898, a Swedish American farmer named Olof Öhman claims to have discovered a large stone while clearing his land of trees and stumps.  The object was attached to the roots of a small tree.  Öhman didn’t realize what he had discovered, so he took the 200 pound stone to the prominent citizens of Kensington.  Kensington was a settlement in Douglas County, Minnesota.  The Kensington Runestone is full of ancient writing and carved text.  It is thirty-one inches high, sixteen inches wide, and six inches thick.  Nine years after the discovery of the artifact, Hjalmer R. Holand from Wisconsin University announced that he had deciphered the writings.  He claims the text to read “8 Goths and 22 Norwegians on exploration journey from Vinland over the west.  We camp by 2 skerries one day-journey from this stone.  We were and fished one day.  After we came home, 10 men red with blood and tortured.  Hail Virgin Mary, save from evil.  Have 10 men by the sea to look after our ship, 14 day -journeys from this island year 1362.”

After Holand published his findings, a massive investigation was conducted.  If the translation is correct, the Kensington Runestone would provide evidence that Scandinavian explorers reached the middle of North America in the 14th century, nearly 130 years before Christopher Columbus.  Basically, it raised eyebrows over the possibility that North European explorers predated Columbus in America.  The runestone has been analyzed and dismissed repeatedly.  Almost all runologists and linguists consider the artifact to be a hoax.  However, many people believe it is authentic.  If the legend on the stone is true, it means that Vikings were in central Minnesota in 1362.  That would require a major rewriting of world history and geography.  The Kensington inscription consists of thirty different runic characters.

In July 2000, just over a hundred years after the Kensington Runestone was found, a detailed physical analysis of the artifact was conducted.  In November 2000, geologist Scott F. Wolter presented preliminary findings suggesting the stone had undergone an in-the-ground weathering process of a minimum of 50–200 years in natural conditions.  Scott F. Wolter has written a number of books on the Kensington Runestone.  He has suggested that the stone was made by the Vikings Knight Templar in 1362, fifty years after the dissolution of the Knight Templar and several hundred years after the end of the Viking age.  He also claims that the North American expedition helped Columbus find his way around the West Indies in 1492.  The artifact remains a mystery.  You can view it at the Runestone Museum in downtown Alexandria, Minnesota.

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