Skip to comments.Geologist says 'Runestone' found in 1898 by Olof Ohman is not hoax; local descendents agree
Posted on 09/23/2005 7:25:11 PM PDT by solitas
The Kensington Runestone, one of Minnesotas most debated artifacts is not a hoax according to geologist Scott Wolter.
Wolter spoke to a Minnesota History class at Anoka Ramsey Community College - Cambridge Campus Monday, Sept. 12.
He has been researching the Runestone for five years along with Richard Nielsen, an engineer from Houston.
Wolter, a geologist by education and profession works for Twin Cities Testing, performing detailed examinations on concrete and rock to determine if there are flaws in concrete projects.
Wolter explained the Runestone was found by Olof Ohman in 1898 while clearing trees off his land in Kensington, west of the Twin cities. When Olof tipped over an aspen/poplar tree estimated to be around 25 to 30 years old, the stone came with it. Wolter said 12 witnesses viewed the event.
What is highly controversial is the authenticity of the Runestone. The Runestone contains runic writing dated 1362 along the face of the stone and along one edge. Skeptics say Olof carved the message into the stone himself to pull a great hoax on scholars.
However, like Wolter, Olofs family believes otherwise. Joining Wolter for the presentation were Darwin Ohman, Olofs grandson who resides in New Brighton and Kari Ohman, Olofs great-granddaughter, who works for Isanti County Probation.
Jeff Edblad, who teaches the Minnesota History class, said he has always approached history from the concept of story telling and felt this was an interesting story that needed to be told.
The Runestone has been such a controversial item for so many years, with the arguments for and against authenticity, I thought it would be a great educational opportunity for my students to hear the story from the position of family members and a geologist, Edblad said.
The Runestone, which is housed at the Kensington Runestone Museum in Alexandria is a tombstone-shaped stone about 36 inches long, 16 inches wide and six inches thick. It contains a message that Wolter believes was carved by Norsemen.
Wolter spoke for about two-hours making many arguments for the authenticity of the Runestone. The Ohman family has shared photos, book collections and documents with Wolter while researching the Runestone.
Wolter has written a book with Nielsen on the authenticity of the Runestone. Their book, The Kensington Runestone: Compelling New Evidence will come out in December.
Wolter said after Olof, who died in 1935, found the Runestone he took the stone back to the family farm and cleaned out the mud with a nail.
Olof tried figuring out what was on the Runestone for a couple of months, Wolter said. He was a very insightful guy. He lived on a farm and wrote back letters to his family wondering how people could survive in the Twin Cities during the Depression . . . Because as a farmer, he could grow his own food, etc.
Even though there were critics of the Runestone, it was displayed at the Smithsonian Institute from 1948-1949 as a genuine artifact.
During his presentation Wolter showed evidence to support his theory the Runestone isnt a hoax. He explained the root leaching on the stone is consistent with the witness accounts of the discovery.
Also, Wolter said retooling has led to confusion and bias about the age of the weathering of the inscription.
Olof didnt scratch out the entire inscription, Wolter said. Some characters on the side were left the way they were found.
Wolter has also done extensive traveling to track down the evidence he needs.
He traveled to Augusta, Maine in March 2003 to do a tombstone study at Hallowell Cemetery because he needed a climate the same as Kensington so it would be comparable.
Wolter determined the mica degradation on the Runestone took longer than 200 years to develop based on the weathering of the tombstone. So, therefore, the Runestone cant be a hoax.
Wolter has photographed each of the 333 characters and word separators, found on the Runestone. He said he took pictures under different angles, taking around two weeks to generate a library.
I found things on the inscription that no one has seen before, Wolter said. In 100 years, Im the first one to document this because everyone else considered it a hoax.
Wolter, who spoke at the Midwest Plains Archaeological Conference in November 2000, said he faced some of his harshest critics at this presentation.
In my world . . . In all the times I have testified as an expert witness in court cases I have never lost, Wolter said. Its not because Im smart, its because I have the evidence.
One aspect Wolter said has been misreported is when the Runestone was found. He said most everything you read said it was found in November, when in fact it was found in September.
Wolter explained Olofs children went to school in District 63, which started Sept. 5. One of Olofs sons Willie said the rock was found one day after school, making it found in September.
Wolter, who has traveled to Sweden five times in the last few years, with the most recent trips in March and May 2005, went to review the Swedish book of Runica-Inscriptions.
He said the dotted R found on the Runestone is also found on Medieval inscriptions. Through a dating code used during that time, Wolter said he feels the Runestone is a land claim. During that time, Wolter said Alexandria had some of the best hunting land, particularly for prized fur beaver. Also, the area served as a gateway to the Missouri, Red and Mississippi Rivers.
Another point Wolter made was there was no weathering ground line on the Runestone. He also said with the help of a professor, they figured out the Runestone is made from a rock indigenous to Minnesota, a rock that comes from the south of the iron Range.
Other arguments Wolter has made for the authenticity of the Runestone and its inscription can be found in his new book.
I dont know how anyone can argue this theory, Wolter said. That concrete happened for a reason and we can prove it, and we have the evidence and facts to support this.
Through the years the Ohman family said peoples claims the Runestone is a hoax has taken its toll on them.
The generation before me was the first generation this really had an effect on, Darwin said. My generation was really sheltered from this and my family really didnt talk a lot about this. My family has never had a doubt about this. Everyone in my family knew this was real and the people in Kensington have known this was real.
Darwin explained, while his family have had their share of calls from people about the Runestone, Scott was the first person who made sense.
From the Ohman family perspective, Scott is a big deal and we like him because he tells us like it is, Darwin said. Dick and Scott are really true investigators . . . Getting the facts and evidence and putting it together. That is what is done to solve a problem. That is what they did and I think its great.
I think the runetone says: "Ole Olson was here!"
Very cool, thanks for posting this. Ya, you betcha.
Isanti County is in Minnesota, not Michigan.
I think the runestone says: "It's George Bush's fault, ya!"
Then we would know it was authentic! </sarc>
> It contains a message that Wolter believes was carved by Norsemen.
Any guesses as to what it says?
GGG PING. (w picture)
Thanks solitas for finding and posting this.
(I am pinging for SunkenCiv for a couple of days)
Ya sure, pong
What happened to the picture? It was a great picture, I saw it a moment ago, now all I get is a red X.
I still state that our ancestors were more advanced then we thought. It's so easy for us today to mock the past be denying evidence...because it's "impossible" for today's technology to have been used in the past.
Batteries in Eqypt
Mechanical clock in Greece
Norsemen in the Midwest
You name it...
On the other hand, just about the only ordinary farmer who would have instantly recognized a runsone for what it was would have had to have been a Scandinavian.
For anyone else it was just a scratched rock.
Another one of the great mysteries of the Midwest is the location of the gold. Most historians believe the indians lied to DeSoto about where Gold could be found. However, you follow the diary all the way through and you discover the Indians very consistently pointed toward what is today South Central, Indiana where, in fact, a serious glacial deposit of gold was found in the 1800s.
Which means, of course, that the Indians in a broad area of North America, in several different cultures, knew where to find gold in the Ohio Valley.
Stories like this NEED a picture.
Here is the clearest - warning! LARGE GIF (2,290,613 bytes)
A serious site on teh Runestone
8 göter ok 22 norrmen paa opthagelse farth fro winlanth of west Wi hathe läger weth 2 skylar en thags norder fro theno sten wi war ok fiske en thag äptir wi kom hem fan X man rothe af bloth og ded AVM frälse af illum.
har X mans we hawet at se äptir wore skip 14 thag rise from theno odh Ar wars Herra 1362.
8 Geats (South Swedes) and 22 Norwegians on acquisition venture from Vinland far to the west We had traps by 2 shelters one day's travel to the north from this stone We were fishing one day. After we came home found 10 men red with blood and dead AVM (Ave Maria) Deliver from evils!
I have 10 men at the inland sea/lake to look after our ship 14 days travel from this wealth/property Year of our Lord 1362
Don't you just hate it when that happens.
Why doesn't this article mention the "transcriptions" of the kensington stone that were later produced by Olof Ohman while promoting the kensington stone? It turns out, the runes on these supposed copies do not match the runes on the stone exactly, or each other exactly. When examined together, they were clearly not copied from the stone, but were rough drafts done before the carving.
Also, the sentence structure and grammar of the stone has little in common with old norsk, but resembles modern english quite well. Every expert on old norse languages that has look at the stone has declared it a hoax.
It amazes me how every few years or so, someone drags up the kensington hoax again. We know the scandinavians were in North America centuries before Columbus. There is actual proven physical evidence of their presence in eastern Canada. Yet for some reason, certain people with scandinavian ancestors don't think that's good enough but insist on some mythical scandinavian empire in North America and repeatedly put forth the kensington hoax as proof.
No doubt, when we finally get to mars, the same people will find a runestone there too.
Any guesses as to what it says?
Garrison Keillor is a dufus & the Mighty Thor lies at the bottom of Lake Wobegone?
I couldn't care - on the face of it: it sounds interesting.
"Where's the honey-meade?" I think is what it says. And 'What the heck are we doing in Minnie-sota?"
We're Minnesota boys ya sure ya betch ya!
So, what about the runestones of Eastern Oklahoma? Any connection?
Maybe se should let the NCAA settle this. We can't offend Vikings now, can we?
Here's a North American Runes site, mentions the Oklahoma runestones.
and a pic of Olaf Ohman.
Big Ole, the local tourist draw or used to be went to the NY World's Fair, has been fired bombed, shot with arrows and guns, dressed up as Santa Claus many a time, somebody tied a set of big balloons and a large salami on his hips one time too was the best prank I saw pulled off.
There were also deathbed confessions by relations of the perpetrators.
The best summation of this hoax is contained in the book, Ancient Mysteries. Highly recommended to one and all for a very informed look at historical curiosities and mysteries, including this one.
This guy is way off...It was found in June...Everybody knows school kids get out in June...Or maybe it was the spring break...That'd be March, or April, wouldn't it???
Yet every few years it gets dug up again and some new scholar claims to have new evidence "proving" its authenticity. They always focus on some single aspect of the stone that could theoretically be interpreted in the correct light after a few beers as having been centuries old instead of just a few decades. At the same time, they also quietly ignore all the other problems with the stone that prove it's a hoax.
Real historians and archaeologists don't even bother debunking these new claims because there really is no point. The stone is a hoax, but facts simply don't matter to the true believers.
I've never been able to figure out why, with all the real evidence of vikings in North America, some people still feel a need to cling desperately to obvious fakeries like the kensington stone. It probably has something to do with the local kensington tourism board.
As an aside, has anyone else noticed how every time a hoax like this is "discovered", whether it's the kensington stone or piltdown man or whatever, it's always done by a man? Any men out there want to explain that to me?
Interesting point you raise on the men being the exclusive discoverers (and presumbably perpetrators) of the hoaxes.
One possible exception would be the Cottingley fairy photographs. The photographic hoax was confected by young females. They became famous when Arthur Conan Doyle became aware of them, but he didn't discover them. Though Doyle was credulous, he was not a part of the original hoax.
Along with Celts, Phoenicians, Egyptians, Jews, Chinese...in various other parts of the US.
You can thank me, a Minnesota native, for this information at your convenience.
I have always loved this story.
We agree that the KRS must either be a hoax or not a hoax. If is a hoax, then the details will show it. The same thing is true if genuine.
The text is similar to English construction, I will grant you. The word "ded" (dead) is English. One possible explanation is that it is a fake and carver had English as a first language with some knowledge of Runes, perhaps a school boy. Or was he a part of the expedition in 1362? Further, what sort of "proof" is to be inferred from the "transcriptions". I wonder what medieval monks did with all their imperfect copies. My guess is that they kept the boys warm on chilly nights. If we found some, would we infer they were trying to "fake" the Bible?
However, even before we weigh this against all the Rune figures being used in 1362, as well as every word, which modern scholars did not know in 1898, we must weigh it against the physical evidence, which cannot lie.
If you say it's a hoax, then you must explain the Mica weathering. Scott Wolter told me that Gaywacke has four different types of Mica embedded in it. He drilled cores
into the bottom of the stone to remove unweathered material for comparison. He separated out the type that weathers fastest. Then he compared it against samples from the undressed surface, the dressed surface and from the bottom of the carved Rune grooves. The results: The undressed portions were much more weathered than the dressed; The dressed surfaces were weathered the same as the carvings; It would have taken at least 200 years for that weathering to happen.
Now you might say that Scott Wolter is mistaken or dishonest, but he is an expert who set out to prove the Stone was a fake, and wound up becoming a believer in its authenticity. He removed enough material from the bottom of the Stone so that others in the future can repeat his experiments or test the slower weathering Micas. You can call him if you like. He will be happy to talk to you. My judgement is that he is an honest, competent man.
If you judge it a hoax, you must present a theory of how it could be a hoax, with the above facts a part of the explanation. Otherwise you must change your opinion, as I have.
Here are just some of the things wrong with the kensington stone:
There are a lot of other things that are wrong about the kensington stone which clearly demonstrate it is a hoax. Do you want more?
More to the point, it is possible to artificially wear inscriptions. Given the number of people who have demonstrated an almost religious need for the kensington stone to be genuine, I wouldn't rule that possibility out. However, the probability of an actual viking in the 1300's carving a runestone using modern swedish, norwegian, icelandic, and english with a modern english grammar and sentence structure using tradesman runes from the 1800's is an absolute zero. The chance that papers from the mid 1800's with almost exact copies of the pecular runic inscription could have been written while the stone was purportedly still in the ground is also zero.
I have no doubt that Scott Wolter is being honest in his findings. I also have no doubt that he has been fooled, just like so many others have been by the kensington hoax.
I'll have to modify my thinking. It looks like the only people who attempt hoaxes are men and little english girls. And that doesn't actually help defend men against my premise that they are basically strange creatures with far too too much time on their hands. Adult women are just more sensible and have better things to do.
Groovy and far out, man!
You still raise an interesting point. Virtually all of the hoaxers have been male. But curiously, in the other realms of human malfeasance, there have been equally infamous (though not as numerous) females, from Livia and Countess Bathory to Anne Bonney. However, I don't include Boadicea. She was provoked! :)
Please FREEPMAIL me if you want on or off the
"Gods, Graves, Glyphs" PING list or GGG weekly digest
-- Archaeology/Anthropology/Ancient Cultures/Artifacts/Antiquities, etc.
Gods, Graves, Glyphs (alpha order)
This sentence could be read in many ways:
One day after [the] school [year started]
One day after [the] school [year ended.]
One day after school [let out in the afternoon]
A link to another stone story:
Just updating the GGG info, not sending a general distribution.
· Mirabilis · Texas AM Anthropology News · Yahoo Anthro & Archaeo ·
· History or Science & Nature Podcasts · Excerpt, or Link only? · cgk's list of ping lists ·