Skip to comments.Norse Stone Authenticity Put To Test (Kensington Runestone)
Posted on 11/16/2003 9:57:09 PM PST by blam
Posted on Fri, Oct. 03, 2003
Norse stone authenticity put to the test
BY TRAVIS REED
Its authenticity may forever be in question, but the Kensington Runestone is on its way to Sweden, where a group of scientists will study it and lend their opinion to the question of whether the rock is really a centuries-old artifact or a 200-pound hoax.
Scientists working with the Runestone Museum in Alexandria, Minn., are traveling with the stone and say they have new geologic findings that suggest it was buried far longer than anyone was settled in western Minnesota.
The stone was purportedly found in 1898 by a Minnesota farmer near Kensington, under a tree he uprooted to prepare his fields for plowing. It's thought by some to carry an inscription from Norse explorers in the 14th century.
If it's authentic, experts say it would be one of the most important artifacts discovered in North America. But scholars have debated its authenticity, arguing that the language on the stone is too modern and no archaeological evidence suggests the Norse made it this far inland.
The Smithsonian Institute once endorsed and displayed the stone, but has since declared that the stone was not genuine.
Scientists working with the Alexandria museum say that for the past three years, they've conducted the first geological studies on the stone itself, and weathering shows it's been buried at least 200 years.
That's still several hundred years short of the 14th century, but they say it proves that the stone wasn't created by the farmer who found it, which was long suspected.
"Putting it back 200 years, there weren't any people in western Minnesota," said LuAnn Patton, executive director of the Runestone Museum. "To find things to compare it to that've been dated 700 years is next to impossible."
Scott Wolter, a Chanhassen geologist who owns a material forensic business, led the study. Researchers used scanning electron microscope equipment at the University of Iowa to help them date the rocks.
They examined the way the stone was eroded by freezing and thawing cycles while it was buried. It's made up of different kinds of rocks, which degrade at varying rates.
At the Statens Historiska Museum in Stockholm, Sweden, geochemists, runeologists, archaeologists, language experts and others will study the geologic findings.
"Until we put the stone under a microscope three years ago, it'd never been under one at all," Patton said. "The abilities to do studies and research (when the stone was found) weren't as great as they are now."
Patton said she hopes scholars at the conference will acknowledge that mistakes and false determinations have been made over the stone, and that legitimate proof exists that it is authentic.
She said a museum in Sweden is bankrolling the trip, proof that their findings are being taken seriously.
"They're very interested and very much want to understand what this is," Patton said. "Quite frankly, this could be a moment of their history that they've missed."
Shipping the stone is its own ordeal. It travels in a specially built, 180-pound wood and steel crate loaded with padding that conforms to the stone's shape. Museum representatives watch it as it's loaded and unloaded into and out of the bulkhead.
"Someone's with it all the time," Patton said. "It's a pain in the neck."
We're looking for printed confirmation to this report.
Stay tuned. The Vikings were here?
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"Eight Goths and 22 Norwegians on a journey of exploration from Vinland very far west. We had camp by two rocky islands one day's journey north from this stone. We were out fishing one day. After we came home we found ten men red with blood and dead. AVM save from evil. Have ten men by the sea to look after our ships fourteen days' journey from this island. Year 1362"
There is a museum in Alexandria for this stone. I believe the museum has photos of the excavation and the Norwegian farmer who discovered it in the roots of an old tree.
I am interested to read the difinitive results from the Swede lab.
Yup. Looks like a lot of work not to say anymore than they did.
Oh yeah, that squares with the headline real well.