Minnesota Runestone


Runestone Revealed

More than 110 years ago, in November 1898, Olof Ohman, a young Swedish immigrant, and his 10-year-old son Edward were clearing family fields in preparation for plowing. Ohman was having extreme difficulty digging up one particular aspen tree on the southernmost slope of a 50-foot knoll on his land near the small town of Kensington, in Douglas County, Minnesota. When the tree was finally uprooted, tangled in the thick roots was a 202-pound stone slab. Unbeknownst to them at the time, the stone tablet would go on to become one of North America's greatest unsolved mysteries known today as the Kensington Runestone.

The old aspen tree was later estimated to be between 20 and 40 years old, and it was clear the stone tablet had been there for quite some time because the roots where it lay tangled were completely flattened. Found face down in the soil, six inches below ground level, the granite slab was measured to be 36" long, 16" wide and 6" thick.

Ohman's son Edward was the first to notice the markings on the stone, and it was later noted that they thought they had discovered an "Indian almanac." Word of the discovery spread quickly through the small town of Kensington. Ohman's neighbors came to see the stone slab, and soon were followed by other community members. It is popular belief that the Ohmans moved the runestone to their home about three to seven days after the find. They also cut the flat roots from the tree and stored them by their family woodpile for almost six years. Soon after, Ohman's neighbors suggested that he take the stone tablet to the local bank on his next trip into town to show it to a banker who was interested in and knowledgeable about antiques. The banker placed the stone tablet on display in the bank window for the entire town of Kensington to see, he decided to send the stone to the University of Minnesota at Minneapolis. So began the scrutiny of the runestone and the challenging enigma that has plagued American historians for more than 110 years.

This mysterious stone tablet unearthed more than a century ago tells of North American exploration more than a century before it was originally believed to have occurred. Did explorers leave clues that could rewrite history? Join us now in learning more about Viking adventures and decide whether or not you believe the proof is etched in stone.

Background History into Runestone Mystery

Since the Ohmans discovered it in 1898, the Kensington Runestone has endured equal amounts of both acclaim and disdain. Great controversies have taken place around the stone from the moment it was discovered. Strong theories and opinions in regard to the authenticity of the stone arose, some of which will be reviewed in this SuperGraphic article.

After careful examination of the stone tablet by many scholars, it was decided that the runestone depicts a journey that came to a disastrous end. An accepted version of the inscription on the Kensington Runestone is decoded below:

"Eight Goths and 22 Norwegians on a journey of exploration from Vinland very far west. We had camp by 2 rocky islands one day's journey north from this stone. We were out fishing one day. After we came home we found 10 men red with blood and dead. AVM [Ave Maria] save us from evil."

The inscription along the edge of the stone says:"Have 10 men by the sea to look after our ships 14 days' journey from the island. Year 1362."

History classes educate students about Christopher Columbus, explorer, colonizer and navigator from the Republic of Genoa in northwest Italy, discovering the New World during his voyage across the Atlantic Ocean in 1492. At a very young age, students throughout North America are taught the well known quote: "In the year 1492 Columbus sailed the ocean blue." The enigma exposed after decoding the Kensington Runestone is the fact that it is dated 1362, 130 years before Columbus's first voyage to the New World!

While Columbus is credited with introducing the American continents to Europe, history reveals that he was not the first explorer from Europe to reach the Americas. Columbus, contrary to popular belief, was preceded by the Norse, led by Leif Ericson, nearly 500 years earlier. According to the sagas of Icelanders, Ericson established a Norse settlement at Vinland. Vinland is thought of today as an established Norse Site, similar to the established Norse site on the northern tip of the island of Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada. This proved conclusively the Vikings' pre-Columbus discovery of North America. Recent archaeological studies indicate that the site where the stone tablet was found was not the Vinland of the Norse accounts, but was the entrance to the larger region of Vinland, which is said to have extended all the way down from Labrador, Canada into present-day New England.

Since archeologists have already established that Ericson and his Viking explorers beat Columbus to America by about 500 years, they are now posing the question: Did Scandinavian explorers beat Columbus to America twice? The Kensington Runestone implies that perhaps yet another group of Scandinavians landed in the New World in 1362, more than 300 years after Ericson and his crew, and more than 100 years before Christopher Columbus.

Vinland to Inland

Erik the Red, referenced in history as Leif Ericson's father, and other Scandinavians lived and prospered on what is still known today as Greenland. By the 14th Century, they had created two main colonies: the Eastern Settlement and Western Settlement on Greenland, which thrived for quite some time. However, history notes that during the 1340s, the two colonies were hit hard by "Black Death" (bubonic plague), extreme climate change, hostile natives and political disputes. It is suggested that these unfortunate circumstances all led to the ultimate destruction of the Greenland settlement.

When the outcome began to look grim for the settlers of Greenland, King Magnus of Norway and Sweden was said to have ordered an expedition under the leadership of Paul Knutson in 1354. Knutson was instructed by Magnus to search for the people of Greenland and restore and revitalize religion and settle among them. Knutson was also ordered to take with him men of the king's bodyguard, (called "Goths" or "Swedes") and sailors of his own choosing, (likely Norwegians, as Knutson himself was Norwegian).

It is believed that after Knutson was unable to find anyone left in the colonies, he went even farther in search of the missing people. Having been familiar with the location of Vinland, it is believed that Knutson sailed west, winding up searching for the survivors right into the interior of North America…what is now known as modern-day Minnesota. Expeditions just for the sake of preserving Christianity in early colonies was not unusual.

There are records in history of at least two similar expeditions to Vinland (America). There was one expedition in 1121 led by Bishop Erik Gnupson and one in 1341 by the priest Ivar Bardson. This indicates that these types of expeditions were most likely a national obligation. The following decree from King Magnus of Norway/Sweden, in Bergen, Norway 1354, was discovered many years ago in a Danish archaeological journal. Found completely by chance in the Royal Library of Copenhagen, this was a huge discovery for those favoring the authenticity of the Kensington Runestone. It reads as follows.

"Magnus, by the grace of God, King of Norway, Sweden and Scania sends to all men who see or hear this letter good health and happiness.We desire to make known that you are to take the men who shall go in the Knarr whether they be named or not named.From my bodyguard and also from among the retainers of other men whom you may wish to take on the voyage who are best qualified to accompany him whether as officers or men.We ask for the cause, inasmuch, as we do for the honor of God, and for the sake of our souls, and for the sake of our predecessors who inGreenland established Christianity and have maintained it until this time, and we will not let it perish in our days.Know this for truth, that whoever defies this our command shall meet with our serious displeasure and receive full punishment.

Executed in Bergen, Monday after Simon and Juddah's day in the six and thirtieth year of our rule (1354). By Orm Ostenson, our regent, sealed."

Because of this decree, Knutson's expedition is presented as a historical fact and even states that in 1364 a knorr (a Norse merchant ship) arrived in Bergen, Norway with nine survivors aboard. Among the nine survivors, an English bishop and navigator, Nicholas of Lynn, believed to be the Knutson expedition's religious leader, and a Norwegian clergyman, Ivar Bardson, also returned with the men. Now, on the contrary, it also has been presented that there is no strong evidence that the Knutson expedition ever set sail, and the nine survivors who came to Norway in 1364 were not survivors of the Knutson expedition, but rather they had descended from the colonists who had settled in distant lands generations before. It was also noted that if there had been an expedition ordered by King Magnus, instructions would have been quite stern and specific: If you do not find them, you needn't come back.

Revealing the Route of the Runestone Creators

Those who advocate the authenticity of the runestone pose the question: How could Ohman in the 19th Century, have known the dates corresponding to Magnus's request for an expedition? The runestone was dated eight years after King Magnus's alleged order for the expedition. Experts indicate that eight years would have been just long enough for Knutson to sail from Bergen, Norway, to the headwaters of the Red River.

There are many ways in which Knutson and his Viking crew could have entered Minnesota. One such way is that he came to the mouth of the Nelson River, followed it southward to Lake Winnipeg, and then by a series of lake and stream portages traveled to the Red River, which flows into the Mississippi and the Gulf of Mexico. Today, there is an almost continuous waterway from the sea to the Minnesota lakeland where the runestone was found. This would seem to be the most natural route from Greenland for the lost colonists.

Hjalmer Rued Holand, a Norse-American historian who dedicated more than 50 years of his life to studying every aspect of the Kensington Runestone, explained in his research that Knutson probably thought he was following the easiest route back to his base in Vinland. Holand also believed that Knutson did not envision North America as a continent, but rather as a group of large islands.

There is additional proof that Knutson and his Viking crew did in fact travel the proposed waterway in 1362 because, at Cormorant Lake in Beeker County, Minnesota, there are three boulders with triangular holes strikingly similar to those used for mooring boats along the coast of Norway during the 14th Century. In his research, Holand noted that other triangle holes were found in rocks near the location in which the runestone was discovered. Also in Climax, Minnesota, near the Red River itself, a firesteel was found in 1871, which matched specimens of medieval Norse firesteels at the Oslo University Museum in Norway. Throughout the century, various other Norwegian artifacts have been discovered along the course of the Nelson River. The unearthing of three battleaxes, a spearhead and an additional firesteel helped to determine that this was the waterway that Knutson and his Viking crew traveled in 1362.

Examining the Runestone Inscription

Several theories as to what happened to the men of Knutson's expedition, if in fact there was an expedition, have been presented throughout the century. Please again read the inscription on the Kensington Runestone:

"Eight Goths and 22 Norwegians on a journey of exploration from Vinland very far west. We had camp by 2 rocky islands one day's journey north from this stone. We were out fishing one day. After we came home we found 10 men red with blood and dead. AVM [Ave Maria] save us from evil."

The inscription along the edge of the stone says:"Have 10 men by the sea to look after our ships 14 days' journey from the island. Year 1362."

The passage "After we came home we found 10 men red with blood and dead" has been determined to be the cause of either an attack by natives of the land, or becoming victims of an outbreak of Black Death. Black Death swept through Europe shortly before 1346-50, and continued to spread randomly for decades after that. The passage "Have 10 men by the sea to look after our ships 14 days' journey from the island" indicates that some of the men had been left behind in charge of the boats left by the sea.Fourteen days' journey from the island is thought to mean approximately 75 miles, a distance in which a boat could easily sail in one day's time. This was later mapped out to be just about the correct distance from the sea to the mouth of the Nelson River.

The inscription also states that the men set up camp on an island in a lake, 75 miles away from another lake that consisted of two rocky islands - the shore where their Viking comrades had been killed. Historians assume that the men relocated there for temporary security from natives. Ohman was said to have found the runestone at the edge of a marsh on his property, which has been dry for quite some time. Geological surveys from the past show that the slightly elevated, rocky land from which Ohman unearthed the stone was almost certainly an island in 1362. Statistics and surveys prove that the countryside has been getting drier over the past century. Cormorant Lake in Becker County is the only lake in Minnesota with two rocky islands, and is located just about 75 miles away from where the runestone was unearthed. Also, found on the shores of Becker Lake are large boulders, three of which have man-made triangular holes. The holes found in these stones again point to the fact that they were used as mooring rocks for Viking merchant ships.

A Century of Experts

Within the last century, more than 30 experts in Scandinavian Language, Runic writing, and other diverse areas of research have examined the Kensington Runestone and, more often than not, have declared the runic writing to be fraudulent - - nothing more than an elaborate hoax put on by a humble farmer and his family. The Kensington Runestone was, and still to this day is, ridiculed for many different "apparent faults." Ten of those experts published papers or books about the Kensington Runestone. Perhaps the most influential opponent of the Kensington Runestone is Erik Wahlgren, author of "The Kensington Stone, A Mystery Solved" (Walgren: 1958).

Despite decades of strong arguments against it, the Kensington Runestone was never without its advocates. Perhaps the most well-known advocate, a University of Wisconsin historian and linguistic, Hjalmer Rued Holand, defended the stone for more than 50 years. Holand served as honorary curator of the Wisconsin Historical Society for 25 years, made three trips to Europe to study Viking evidence in 26 different museums in six countries, wrote five books and published numerous articles in which he addressed issues point by point.

Another influential advocate for authenticity is Robert A. Hall Jr., an American linguist of romance languages, who published books demonstrating that the Kensington Runestone does contain a number of elements supporting its authenticity. Dr. Barry Hanson, chemist and author of "The Trial of Olaf Ohman," and Dr. Richard Nielsen, a Scandinavian linguist, who published a series of articles in which he addressed and answered every objection made to the stone by previous scholars, are currently advocating the authenticity of the stone. In 2000/2001, Hanson and Nielsen joined forces with forensic geologist Scott Wolter and other experts, and together they have made groundbreaking new discoveries into the untold story etched into the Kensington Runestone.

From Redemption to Ridicule - Runestone Rollercoaster

Listed here is a brief, early chronology of the Kensington Runestone, written by brothers Jim and Allen Richardson in "Verified at Last: The Strange and Terrible Story of the Kensington Runestone." Certainly there are more facts that could be included in this timeline depicting the Kensington Runestone; however, it seems important to note the facts listed below as a helpful recap and insight before continuing.

1362 – The stone is erected by Europeans on an expedition. The inscription was probably carved by a priest from the Swedish island of Gotland.

November 1898 – Olof Ohman and his 10-year-old son Edward unearth the stone slab on their family farmland.

January 1899 – Olaus Breda of the University of Minnesota attempts a translation of the runestone from a hand-rendered copy of the inscription. Even though Breda never set eyes on the stone, and stated that he is not an expert in runology (the study of the Old Norse Language), he came to the conclusion that it is a forgery and recommends that the university not procure the stone for further study.

February 1899 – The stone is sent to George Curme, professor of Old German at Northwestern University. After several weeks of studying the stone, Curme declares that although he is not an expert in the language or the runes, his opinion is that the stone is a hoax because it contains double dots (similar to umlauts) over a few of the runes, and the invention of umlauts came after the date on the stone.

March 1899 – The stone is returned to Olof Ohman, who is said to have placed it face down near his front door and used it as a stepping stone. Years later, Ohman's son reveals that they really set it up in a shed.

August 1907 – A University of Wisconsin historian and linguistic, Hjalmer Rued Holand, becomes aware of the stone. He reportedly buys it from Ohman for $10, studies it and concludes that it is a genuine artifact. He spends more than 50 years trying to prove the authenticity of the runestone.

July 1909 – Ohman, his son Edward and several neighbors all give signed affidavits stating the circumstances of the discovery of the stone, the weathered and aged appearance of the inscription, and the way that the roots of the tree had grown around the stone "in such a way as to exactly conform to the outlines of the stone" (affidavit signed by Ohman and neighbor Niles Flaten on July 20, 1909).

1910 – The Minnesota Historical Society designates a committee to study the stone. The committee's study, based on both language and the geological features of the stone, concludes that the runestone is authentic. However, there is some dissent among the membership and the trustees over the issue, and prominent members of the Minnesota Historical Society publicly dismiss the stone many times over the years, continuing to accuse Ohman of lying.

1911 – Holand takes the runestone to Europe to have it examined by Scandinavian language experts who come to the conclusion that it's a fake. The stone is sent back and put on exhibit in several U.S. cities.

1929 – Harold S. Langland, president of Stanly Ironworks in Minneapolis and trained in the physical sciences, studies the runestone for two months and declares it to be authentic because the carved-out areas are just as weathered as the rest of the surface of the stone.

1935 – Olof Ohman dies.

1940s – The managing editor of the Minnesota Archeologist, R.H. Landon Ph.D., has the stone coated with engine oil and scrubbed with a powerful solvent, in an attempt to clean it. No one would ever know for certain how much damage was caused to the testable features of the stones surface.

1963 – Hjalmar Holand, one of the few life-long defenders of the stone, dies.

August 1967 – The infamous Gran Tape is made, recording an interview with Walter Gran, wherein it is alleged by many that Gran claims his father, a neighbor of the Ohmans confessed on his "deathbed" that Olof carved the stone. There is no actual confession on tape.

1968 – Theodore Blegen, who initiated the making of the Gran Tape, publishes a book debunking the Kensington Runestone. The book alludes to a scandalous tale on the Gran Tape and helps to ultimately cement Ohman's reputation as a forger.

1973 – The BBC films a skeptical Kensington Runestone documentary, which leans heavily on the Gran Tape as its source.

1976 – The director of the Minnesota Historical Society, Russell Fridley, publicizes the Gran Tape in his articles in Minnesota history.

Minnesota's Most Famous Fraud?

Many historians, archeologists and linguists have discredited the Kensington Runestone, saying that the idea of Vikings roaming through Minnesota in 1362, and leaving carved stones in memory of lost comrades, is simply absurd. It has been said that the runestone was carved in about 1898 by Olaf Ohman, however everyone who knew Ohman said the same things about him: He was honest, honorable, and he would not or could not have carved the inscription, nor would he lie to his family as part of any conceivable activity he might be engaged in. Whatever the case, Minnesota's famous Kensington Runestone has haunted the Ohman family for more than 100 years. Olof Ohman is said to have learned the ancient rune symbols in his native Sweden, and used them to carve the Kensington Runestone in efforts to pull an elaborate hoax on scholars. People who supported the authenticity of the runestone posed the question: How could a man with only 36 weeks of formal education, nine children and a mediocre farm that needed constant upkeep, pull off such a hoax?

Ohman is described on several different accounts as an unimaginative man with absolutely no means to perpetrate a fraud of such magnitude. Knowing his character has been important over the decades, because the circumstances of the discovery of the stone are recorded in a sworn affidavit which Ohman made before a local justice of the peace in July 1909. Perhaps if Ohman had tried to make money off his finding or if he had been a well schooled, highly intellectual individual, there might have been grounds for suspicion; however, that was not the case.

Five areas that bear upon the authenticity of the Kensington Runestone and help vindicate Ohman have been presented in research. The first is Dialect: The Kensington Runestone is written in an unambiguous "e" dialect. Ohman, being accused of forgery, spoke and wrote an unmistakable "a" dialect. This certainly should have been looked into and explained before anyone could declare that the stone was forged, but no "expert" ever discussed it and no language study has ever been cited that might address this unsettling inconsistency.

The second is Runeforms: It has been determined that 24 runeforms are inscribed on the Kensington Runestone, and that six of the 24 runeforms were unknown to all of the experts who examined the stone after it was unearthed in 1898. Because of this, "experts" automatically claimed that Ohman invented them. However, all six of the runeforms have now been found to have been in use on the island of Gotland in the 14th century. Over the years, many experts accused Ohman of forging the Kensington Runestone because a book about runestones by Rosander was found in the Ohman home. It was discovered that 11 of the runes on the Kensington Runestone were not found in Rosander's Book.

The third is Language: Ten words found on the Kensington Runestone were not recognized as old Swedish words by any expert in 1898. How could Ohman, with just 36 weeks of formal education, have known the correct form of words that were long obsolete, when experts weren't at all familiar with them? If that were the case, perhaps Ohman should have been teaching history/writing at Oslo University in Norway. Experts claimed that these words were impossible, yet all have now been found in source documents that experts themselves forgot to consult.

The fourth is Numbers: The Kensington Runestone contains seven number groups, including the date 1362 written in pentadic numerals (notation for writing numerals in Scandinavia, usually inscribed in stone or wood). Experts were said to have thought that pentadic numbers were not worthy of discussion. However recent research to confirm not only the possibility but the probability that this unusual numerical notation would have been used by a priest or a scribe from the island of Gotland in the 14th century.

The fifth is Physical Features: There are ways of demonstrating that the man-made carvings of the Kensington Runestone were exposed to the elements and weathering for more than 100 years or so. This makes it awfully hard to believe that Ohman carved the stone himself.

Geology Settled It - How it Happened

Ten years ago, Barry Hanson, one of individuals who leads the campaign for Kensington Runestone authenticity, hired Scott Wolter, a Minnesota geologist and president of American Petrographic Services, who is now a longtime champion of the authenticity of the stone, to conduct the first ever laboratory testing on the runestone. What Wolter found is remarkable and proved to be a groundbreaking discovery. Mica degradation on the surface of what is believed to be man-made features of the stone was discovered. Wolter explains that mica degradation of that nature would take considerable time to manifest itself and would require a moist soil environment to do so. That helped indicate the stone was buried after it was carved, and the time spent underground had to span at least 50 years, if not centuries. Hanson explains that Ohman was telling the truth because he had been farming his land only for eight years before accidentally unearthing the stone. Based on his findings, Wolter himself was convinced that the Kensington Runestone was legitimate and stated that with further research, he would be able to determine how long the stone was underground.

A conference was held in 2000 in St. Paul, attended by archeologists from 20 states and three Canadian provinces, where Wolter and Hanson presented what they believe is indisputable evidence that the Kensington Runestone inscription is real, dating back to the 1300s. Wolter was later quoted saying, "It's not about belief, it's about evidence" and "there is no evidence consistent with it being a hoax, and I don't think anyone who hears my lectures will walk away thinking that it is a hoax." In 2003, Wolter conducted a study in order to compare the weathering of the Kensington Runestone to other similar stones exposed to similar climate for a known period. Tombstones made of slate located in Maine were selected and samples were studied. The carvings on the tombstones did not have complete mica degradation and the runestone did. This further proved that the Kensington Runestone was carved more than 200 years ago.

Mike Miklovic, professor of anthropology and earth science at Minnesota State University at Moorehead and strong believer and advocate of the fact that the Kensington Runestone is a fake, has said that Wolter's research does not offer solid proof. Miklovic says he's willing to listen but has said that he wants solid proof. Miklovic presents several problems he has with Wolter's research. He first explains that Wolter is claiming that the actual grooves that form the ruins on the stone are very old; however, they do not appear to look extremely old because when the stone was cleaned, the grooves were cleared of all dirt. Miklovich says that Wolter himself admits that the runestone grooves don't look old, and Miklovich goes on to explain the fact that the surface of the runestone appears to look old in certain spots is because of the natural weathering of the stone itself. Miklovic also notes that after Wolter took the Kensington Runestone to Sweden to be analyzed by experts in archeology and runic studies, he along with other Minnesotans were told that the experts were skeptical and did not endorse the authenticity of the Kensington Runestone. In regard to Miklovich, Wolter says that everyone is entitled to his own opinion.

The Dotted R & the Hooked X

Since 2001, Wolter and Nielsen have been independently researching the inscription on the Kensington Runestone, and coauthored "The Kensington Runestone: Compelling New Evidence" in which they present more than 25 years of research and evidence, resulting in a compelling and convincing case for the authenticity of the runestone. Wolter and Nielsen's research led them to a small island off of the Swedish coast named Gotland, where they discovered that runic traditions continued long after the Viking age ended. They found grave stones in churches on Gotland that had striking similarities to the Kensington Runestone. They discovered one medieval ruin known today as the "Dotted R," which wasn't discovered until 1935. With this being the case, Wolter posed the question: How did the Dotted R get on the Kensington Runestone if it wasn't known by anyone in 1898 when Ohman unearthed it?

Wolter and Nielsen's research is giving people a new perspective to the more than century-old runestone mystery. They think that the language and grammar on the stone can now be tied to a mysterious and persecuted religious order that may help to further explain why 14th century Scandinavians fled to Minnesota. During that time in history, Wolter and Nielsen explain that the impact from the Crusades gave rise to military/religious orders such as the Knights Templar, formed in hopes of protecting Christian passage to and from the Holy Land. Becoming influential and wealthy, eventually this group became a problem in Europe, as they posed a threat to the king of France at the time, as well as to the Catholic church. When Wolter and Nielsen were researching on the island of Gotland, they also discovered Templar crosses, which gave proof that this monastic military group had been on the island. They also determined that most of the churches at that time were inhabited by a religious order known as Cistercians, who were very intelligent and probably worked closely with military groups on the island of Gotland.

Wolter and Nielsen believe that unfavorable conditions on the island led up to an ultimate voyage from Gotland to Minnesota, and believe that the inscription on the Kensington Runestone alludes to this as well. They believe that the nature of the inscription and the knowledge of the Dotted R could mean only one thing: That a Cistercian priest from Gotland must have carved the Kensington Runestone. Wolter and Nielsen came to the conclusion that the runestone was meant to be a land claim and go on to provide even more compelling evidence. Their coauthored "The Kensington Runestone: Compelling New Evidence" not only examines the scientific evidence of the stone, but also address claims brought forth by critics over the years, trying to prove still that Ohman carved one of North America's greatest unsolved mysteries. Currently, Wolter and Nielsen are still conducting research on the runestone.

Wolter also published a book, "The Hooked X," which picks up where his and Nielsen's book leaves off. It's a journey from Minnesota to the New England coast, where four more medieval runestones were found. The journey then leads to a mysterious round stone tower in Rhode Island, (also featured as Rhode Island's SuperGraphic) that is suspected to have been constructed by a highly controversial group from Europe before the time of Christopher Columbus. Wolter explains that the Hooked X shatters many historical and religious paradigms and ultimately reveals the startling untold history of North America. Those who have read "The Hooked X" say the book is a combination of science and logic as well as a detective story in which Wolter leaves no stone unturned.

The Kensington Runestone Today

Currently, Wolter and Nielsen are no longer collaborating, and are conducting independent research on the Kensington Runestone. More than 110 years after it was unearthed, the Kensington Runestone is still the object of major controversy among experts researching the stone. Even though years and years of extensive research, heated debates and in-depth studies have taken place regarding the Kensington Runestone, the fact remains that the origin of this piece of history has not yet been definitively agreed upon or explained. For every research article or piece of literature written about the runestone’s origin and creator, there could be an opposing viewpoint in an opposing research article or piece of literature. The information included in this SuperGraphic article about the Kensington Runestone is in no way meant to be all inclusive, nor does it favor one research fact over another. The information found here is meant to enlighten readers and perhaps give enough background and provide enough information in the related-links section to advance one’s own research if they wish to draw their own conclusions about the authenticity of the runestone. With more than a century of research already having been conducted, it is safe to say there will be plenty more to come from geological, runeological and language studies. With that being said, one thing remains clear – this enigmatic stone tablet has made people think, wonder and investigate.

The Kensington Runestone is on permanent exhibit at the Runestone Museum in Alexandria, Minnesota, having been secured from Holand in 1928 by a group of Alexandrians. The Runestone Museum was constructed in 1958, primarily to house the Kensington Runestone. Julie Blank, Runestone Museum director, explains that the Runestone Museum takes a neutral position as to whether or not the stone is authentic, and encourages any serious researcher to stop in and take a look. The “Venture Across America” series of SuperGraphics teaches us about little-known mysteries from each U.S. state, Canadian province and territory. This could be considered one of history’s ultimate mysteries. Minnesotans can be proud that their state is home to such a special piece of our country’s heritage.

The Challenging Enigma of the Kensington Runestone Now Revealed on 2,300 U-Haul Moving Vans

U-Haul released 2,300 new 20-foot moving vans showcasing the Kensington Runestone, a stone tablet that tells of North American exploration more than a century before it was originally believed to have occurred. As one of North America's greatest mysteries, the Kensington Runestone has puzzled historians for more than 110 years. Did explorers leave clues that could rewrite history?

On Saturday, May 28th, the "Venture Across America and Canada" SuperGraphics Campaign continued the long-standing tradition of honoring states and provinces when the latest SuperGraphic, honoring the state of Minnesota was unveiled in Alexandria at the Runestone Museum. This newest SuperGraphic featuring the Kensington Runestone challenges everyone to learn more about early Viking adventures, and decide for themselves whether or not the proof is etched in stone.

The U-Haul Media and Public Relations Department and the U-Haul Company of Fargo (Co. 725) teamed up with the Runestone Museum to unveil the newest SuperGraphic during the 2011 Awake the Lakes Celebration. U-Haul was thrilled to partner with the Runestone Museum to commemorate the stone and the enduring mystery of its origin. The Runestone Museum was equally thrilled, and Executive Director Julie Blank exclaimed, "From start to finish this has been an exciting project!"

Marketing Company President (MCP) Shawn Odden, U-Haul Company of Fargo spoke to a large crowd of spectators, during which time he had the honor of presenting plaques to dignitaries representing the state of Minnesota and individuals who helped with the creation of the SuperGraphic. Recipients included Minnesota State Senator Bill Ingebreston; Alexandria Mayor Dan Ness; Executive Director of the Runestone Museum Julie Blank; geologist and President of American Petrographic Services Scott Wolter and Darwin Ohman, grandson of Olof Ohman.

After the truck was unveiled, everyone had a blast looking for Sammy U, the official U-Haul mascot hidden in the SuperGraphic. To make the unveiling official, MCP Odden invited everyone presented with a plaque to sign the SuperGraphic on the truck and pose for photographs. The Kensington Runestone is considered one of history's most challenging enigmas, and Wolter and Ohman assured everyone that through geologic, runeological and language studies, there is plenty of research still to come, and they encourage anyone who is interested in the Kensington Runestone to stay tuned.

Minnesotans can be proud that their state is home to such a special piece of our country's heritage.


Related Links

Further Reading

Nielsen, Richard., Wolter, Scott F. (2005) The Kensington Rune Stone: Compelling New Evidence.


Wolter, Scott F. (2009) The Hooked X


"The Riddle of the Kensington Stone"

Reprinted from Thomas R. Henry, "The Riddle of the Kensington Stone" Saturday Evening Post, Vol. 221, August 21, 1948.

Some Physical Feature of the Kensington Runestone,

B. Hanson (2000) Published in Journal of the West. Jan 2001.

Strange Scholarship, Examining the Kensington Runestone Literature.

B. Hanson (2000) Unpublished.

Early Scandinavian Incursions into the Western States

Richard Nielsen, Journal of the West, Vol 39 No. 1. Jan 2000.