Kensington Runestone

The Kensington Runestone is a rectangular grauwacke stone covered with runes on its face and side. Its origin and significance have been disputed since its “discovery” in 1898 at Solem Township (Douglas County) near Kensington, Minnesota. She suggests that Scandinavian explorers would have reached the middle of North America at. Scholars and historians consider James Knirk at to be the most important: “‘Fin finnes en liten klikk med amerikanere som sverger til at steinen er ekte. From the position of the skandinaviskættede realister uten peiling på språk, og from har store skarer med tilhengere. There is a small click of Americans who swear to the stone’s authenticity. They are mainly natural scientists of Scandinavian with no knowledge of linguistics, and they have large numbers of adherents. ” The runestone has been analyzed and dismissed repeatedly without local effect. See: E. Wahlgren, The Kensington Stone: A Mystery Solved (Madison: University of Wisconsin Press) 1958; T. Blegen, The Kensington Runestone: New Light on an Old Riddle (St. Paul: Minnesota Historical Society) 1968; R. Fridley, “The Case of the Gran tapes,” Minnesota History 45.4 (1976: 152-56); B. Wallace, “Some points of controversy”, in B. Ashe, ed. The Quest for America (New York: Praeger) 1971: 154-74; E. Wahlgren, The Vikings and America (New York: Thames & Hudson) 1986. that it is a hoax, but the question is still debated.

Olof Öhman, a Swedish-American farmer, says in 1898 that he found the stone as he cleared his land of trees and trunks in order to plow it. It was found on a mound or side of a hill, lying face down and entangled in the roots of a tree believed to be at least ten years old. According to several witnesses, some of these roots were flattened and married the shape of the stone. The 10-year-old son of Öhman noticed some inscriptions and the farmer said they thought they had found an Indian almanac. The artifact has dimensions of 76 × 41 × 15 cm and weighs about. At the time of this discovery, Leif Erikson’s stay in Vinland (Newfoundland today) was widely discussed and resulted in renewed interest in Viking Age throughout Scandinavia. Five years later, a Danish archaeologist proves that it was possible to sail to North America aboard ships of the time. There were also tensions between Sweden and Norway, due to their recent independence: some Norwegians claimed that the stone was a Swedish hoax and similar accusations came from Sweden, relying on the fact that it was made reference to the stone to a joint expedition of Norwegians and Swedes when they belonged to the same kingdom. The stone is exposed soon after in a local bank. No evidence of Öhman’s attempt to cash out his discovery was substantiated. A poorly made copy of the inscription made its way to the Greek language department of the University of Minnesota, then to Olaus J. Breda, a professor of literature and Scandinavian languages ​​from that same university from 1884 to 1899, who had some interest in the find and whose runic knowledge will be questioned later by some researchers. He makes a translation, declares the stone as counterfeit and sends copies to linguists in Scandinavia. The Norwegian archaeologist Oluf Rygh also declares that it is a counterfeit, based on a letter from Breda (who has never seen the stone) as well as on the statements of other linguists. Archaeological evidence of Viking settlements in Canada is expected to appear only 50 years later, so the idea of ​​vikings wandering through Minnesota at that time seems impossible to most scholars. The stone is then sent to Northwestern University in Chicago. As no one is able to identify any valid historical context, the stone is returned to Öhman, who would have deposited it face down near the door of his attic as a stone to clean his shoes and remove the nails. later, his son reported that it was not so and that they had in fact deposited it in an adjacent shed). In 1907, the stone was purchased, apparently for $ 10 by Hjalmar Holand, a graduate student at the University of Wisconsin. Holand revives public interest and further studies are conducted by geologist Newton Horace Winchell (Minnesota Historical Society) and linguist George Flom (Philological Society of the University of Illinois), both of whom publish their findings. in 1910. If one refers to Winchell, the poplar under which the stone was found was destroyed but several poplars close and of the same size were cut and, inomitting their rings, it was determined that they were 40 years old. As the area in question was colonized only after 1858, it appeared that the stone could not be a counterfeit. Winchell also concludes that the disaggregated appearance of the stone indicated that the inscription was 500 years old. Meanwhile, Flom finds a clear divergence between the runes used in Kensington’s inscription and those in use at. In the same way, the linguistic forms do not correspond to the examples of this time. Most of the controversies over the authenticity of the Kensington Stone are based on a conflict between linguistic and physical evidence. The fact that the rune stone was discovered by a Swedish farmer in Minnesota at a time when Viking history and Scandinavian culture were very popular and the publication of several questionable articles, make a stubborn veil of skepticism in in 1354, King Magnus IV of Sweden granted a letter of protection to Paul Knutson for a trip to Greenland. The settlements west of Greenland had been found abandoned – only livestock remained there – a few years earlier and it was assumed that the population had rejected the Church (and its stranglehold on local farms, gradually acquired as tax payments various), returned to paganism and moved to what would later be known as North America. In 1887, the historian Gustav Storm mentions this trip, suggesting his return to 1363 or 1364. It seems that these are the first published works that refer to a trip to North America, matching the date inscribed on the stone. This has since been confirmed by a letter written in 1577 by Gerard Mercator to John Dee. This letter gives an excerpt from Jacobus Cnoyen’s earlier works (now lost) describing a voyage beyond Greenland whose return with 8 men on board dates back to 1364. Cnoyen also mentions that a priest was on the trip and that He described it in a book called Inventio Fortunate, a book that is quoted in many documents of the Middle Ages and the Renaissance, but of which no copy remains. The Inventio is quoted on some maps dating back to as being their source about the description of the Arctic. It is not known if the trip went to Hudson Bay but some maps show this bay at least 100 years before its first known exploration. This apparently influences Columbus for planning his trip across the Atlantic. So, even if a talented forger had been able to deduce the date to put on the stone according to the information available at that time, it seems that an expedition had indeed taken place at the time mentioned on the stone.

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