Kensington Runestone real, geologist says [UPDATED]Published 9:43am Thursday, May 17, 2012 Updated 11:44am Thursday, May 17, 2012
CANBY — In 1898, a Swedish farmer Olaf Ohman claimed while clearing stumps off his land near the town of Kensington, he found a 200-pound stone shaped like a tombstone with Viking runes carved on the surface.
In the years since, claims and counterclaims have swirled around the authenticity of the stone, now located in a museum in Alexandria.
In 2000, the museum invited geologist Scott Wolter to examine the stone. On Monday evening, Vennskop 554 Canby lodge of the Sons of Norway hosted Wolter to present his findings and his theories about the origin and purpose of the Runestone.
“Our family has been interested in the Kensington Runestone,” said Vennskop President Dorothy Zimmerman. “It’s an important part of Minnesota history. We saw his program on public TV and invited Scott.”
The translated runes read:
“Eight Goths, 22 Normans, on (land) acquisition business far to the west of Vinland. We had camped near two shelters, one days journey north from this stone. We were fishing one day, when we came home found 10 men red with blood and death AVM (“Ave Maria”) Save us from evils!”
On another side, the stone reads, “There are 10 men by the sea with our ships, 14 days journey from this island (peninsula or hill), year 1362.”
Wolter delivered his presentation in two parts: a scientific argument for the authenticity of the stone, based on geology, runology and history; and his speculations about the esoteric origin and meaning of the stone.
Long derided as a forgery, Wolter said his laboratory examination of the carving strongly argues for its authenticity. Furthermore, a few years after he began his research, he found that legendary Minnesota geologist Newton Horace Winchell had reached the conclusion the Runestone was genuine in 1910.
What clinched the authenticity, according to Wolter, was finding that forms of the runes that were considered grammatical errors in 1898, were found to be correct by historical researchers in Sweden in 1935.
The story has many twists and turns. The Ohman family has never profited from the stone but has throughout the years faced ridicule and harassment, possibly contributing to the suicides of two of Olaf Ohman’s children.
Beyond arguing for the authenticity of the Runestone, Wolter speculates the stone is a land claim left by an expedition funded by the Cistercian Order of Monks, closely allied with the Knights Templar. Wolter said he believes they were fleeing persecution for their adherence to an ancient form of religion that worshiped the divine principle in the form of a goddess, sometimes identified with the Mary, the mother of Jesus, and Mary Magdalene.