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22 June 2009, JellyBean @ 12:36 pm

“In 1898, a Minnesota farmer clearing trees from his field uprooted a large stone covered with mysterious runes. Now known as the Kensington Runestone, it details the journey of land acquisition and murder…in the year 1362. Thought by some to be a hoax, new evidence suggests it could be real, and a clue that the Knights Templar discovered America 100 years before Columbus, perhaps bringing with them history’s greatest treasure…The Holy Grail.”
This is the synopsis of a new documentary which will air on the History Channel this fall.

Andy and Maria Awes with Committee Films, which is based in the Twin Cities, along with a crew of about 30, spent the day at Kensington Runestone Park recently – filming the story of the Kensington Runestone.

The History Channel special investigates a story that begins in medieval Europe and culminates in a present day search for answers, according to Maria Awes.

The Kensington Runestone is a slab of greywacke covered in runes on its face and side which, if it is genuine, would suggest that Scandinavian explorers reached the middle of North America in the 14th century. It was found in 1898 in the largely rural township of Solem, Douglas County, Minnesota, and named after the nearest settlement, Kensington. Runologists and linguists consider the runestone to be a hoax.

The Kensington Runestone could be a 19th century forgery or an important archaeological find from the 14th century. Those who ascribe a Scandinavian origin to the stone claim it shows evidence of obscure medieval runes and intersecting word forms that would have been unknown to potential forgers in the 1800s. These advocates tend to be enthusiastic but often lacking in professional credentials (Viking-origin proponent Keith Massey holds a Ph.D. from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, where Erik Wahlgren taught). Interested professional archaeologists, historians, and Scandinavian linguists generally question the stone’s provenance. Any discussion of the runestone is fraught with opportunities for misinterpretation and speculation.

The amateur linguist Nielsen claims the stone’s linguistics are plausible for the 14th century, claiming evidence for all the unusual word and rune forms has been found in medieval sources. He believes that spoken Swedish was already quite similar to modern Swedish in the 14th century, But his only evidence for this is the Kensington Stones. The many other [written] sources of Medieval Swedish show a language that differs in significant ways from its modern descendant. Geochemical analysis suggests the stone was buried prior to the first documented arrival of Europeans in the region.

In a joint statement for a 2004 exhibition of the stone at the Museum of National Antiquities in Stockholm, Nielsen and Henrik Williams (a professor of Scandinavian Languages at Uppsala University and a proponent of the forgery theory) noted there were linguistic discrepancies for both 14th and 19th century origins of the inscription and that the runestone “requires further study before a secure conclusion can be reached.” This was a rare instance in which the academic community and runestone enthusiasts found something upon which they could agree.

Read more at:

Morris Sun Tribune: Documenting a 111-year-old mystery

Extracts from:

Wikipedia: Kensington Runestone

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