Of Men & Mysteries ~ Vikings

posted in: Gina Conkle, mysteries, Vikings | 15

Do you like history’s riddles? I do.

Mysteries, especially those from the past, come as a good story mixed with a dose of scandal and intrigue.

The Kensington Rune Stone unearthed by Olaf Ohlman in Douglas County Minnesota is my latest quest.

IMAG0237 In 1898, Swedish immigrant Olaf Ohlman discovered the 200 pound stone while clearing a field with his sons. The giant slab was tangled in tree roots.

Ohlman’s son, Edward, noticed the markings. At first the family took the markings as Native American. A local bank displayed the slab in a window, and the stone’s fame grew. Soon not only did experts in the US examine the stone, but so did historians, archaeologists, and linguistics experts from Sweden and Norway.

Almost unanimously experts claimed the stone a hoax.

And the Ohlman family paid dearly. People near and far heaped ridicule on the Ohlman’s. The family’s teenage daughter left home early to avoid the shame. Even worse, one of Olaf’s sons committed suicide.

The family turned the slab into a stepping stone on their farm, where it stayed until Hjalmar Holand purchased it in 1907.

Why do I believe the stone isn’t a fake? Among many other points, detractors haven’t been able to debunk Native American records of “tall, blond haired, blue eyed” travellers. The Hochunk (Winnebago) tribes have tales of “Red Horn” meeting “red haired giants” from pre-Columbian times.

And have you heard of L’Anse aux Meadows? Experts denied the possibility of that Viking settlement for years until overwhelming evidence proved them wrong.

Here’s more to consider…


*Ohlman (who spoke only Swedish) received no more than 6 weeks education. How could he have produced a written record such as is found on the stone?


Bearded axe found 15 miles from Kensington stone location

*Carbon dating on a number of other artifacts found in the region points to the same time of the stone. Axe heads, spears, and fire steels (fire starters) correspond to 1362 – the date Rune Stone believers agree the stone was left in Minnesota.

*From written records, psychological studies report no evidence of fraud even decades later in the Ohlman family.

Some Theories about the Kensington Stone

*The Knights Templar Theory                       knights-templar-geocoin                            These guys show up everywhere in history! Scott Wolford has written many books outlining his theory that Templars carved the Rune Stone.


*Paal Knutsson Voyage Theory         In 1354 King Magnus of Sweden orders a voyage (led by Knutsson) to Greenland to investigate the state of the Christian church there. There’s no evidence they arrived, yet  a smaller number of men arrive home in Norway ten years later. Some stipulate these men are part of the original, larger contingent sent in 1354.

Unfortunately, most written records were lost. With evidence of Vikings on Hudson Bay, the theory goes that Vikings travelled from the Hudson Bay to the Nelson River and finally to the Red River near Kensington Rune Stone was found.

*Norse Crusader Theory   IMAG0249                                                          Researcher Margaret Leuthner provided credible evidence of patterns within the rune stone message on the face and on the side. She believes Norse Crusaders are responsible for the carvings.

*Battle of Visby Theory                                                                                                                        There was a major battle on Gotland in 1361 (Battle of Visby). Wealthy farmers were targeted next, and researcher Carl Festin thinks the rune stone came from those farmers who fled Gotland.

Take a look at the translation (front of the stone):

8 Goths and 22 Norwegians on                                                                                                    this discovery voyage from                                                                                                     Vinland over the west we                                                                                                                   had camp by 2 skerries one                                                                                                               day’s journey north from this stone                                                                                                   we were and fished one day after                                                                                                       we came home found 10 men red                                                                                                     from blood and Ave Virgo Maria                                                                                                        save from evil                                                                                                                                        have 10 men by the sea to see                                                                                                           after our ship 14 day journeys                                                                                                            from this island year 1362

Translation (side of the stone):IMAG0236

There are 10 men by the inland sea to look                                       after our ships fourteen days journey                                                 from this peninsula (or island). Year 1362.

What do you think? Did Vikings pass this way centuries ago?

Romantic Trivial Pursuit Question: What river would the Vikings have taken (that leads into Douglas County) where the Kensington Rune Stone was found? Be sure and post your answer at the top of the page.

Follow Gina Conkle:

A writer of Viking and Georgian romance with a softly sensual side, Gina loves history, books and romance…the perfect recipe for historical romance writer. Her passion for castles and old places (the older and moldier the better!) means interesting family vacations. When not visiting fascinating places, she can be found delving into the latest adventures in cooking, gardening, and chauffeuring her sons.

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15 Responses

  1. Maggi Andersen

    Fascinating, Gina. There are Vikings in my past, from Denmark.

    • ginaconkle2013

      Thanks Maggi. I have a lot of Danish on my mom’s side of the family. It’s really interesting to connect with your past.

    • ginaconkle2013

      Hi Mishka,
      These are the best parts of history. A friend just emailed an article on a find on the Mississippi River – what archaeologists believe is a Viking ship! So cool!

  2. Mary Galusha

    This was fascinating reading. My grandfather emigrated from Norway so I’m always interested in the Vikings.

    • ginaconkle2013

      Hi Mary,
      How are you? I hope you’re doing well. I know we spoke of your Scandinavian heritage before. It’s really fun to uncover these mysteries. Thanks for stopping by the blog!

    • ginaconkle2013

      Hi Sandra,
      Yes, the way the family was treated is horrible. I’m a believer in the rune stone’s authenticity. There has been a recent find of what archaeologists believe is a Viking ship unearthed along the Mississippi River. I might do a post on that find in the future! The Red River (near the Kensington Stone) feeds into the Mississippi.

  3. ginaconkle2013

    Hi Kathryn,
    I appreciate the re-blog. Pretty interesting, isn’t it? The Vikings were all over the place. I love reading about them, fiction and non-fiction, and I certainly love writing about them. Thanks for stopping by ER.com.

    • Cordia Byers

      Gina, Have you watched Unearthing America. He has done several shows on the stones.

  4. Barbara Monajem

    What an interesting story. I find it very easy to believe the Vikings came here; they were great travelers, voyagers, explorers. Thanks for such a great post.

  5. Violetta Rand (@ViolettaRand)

    Love this, Gina. New studies suggest English is a Scandinavian based language and that northern Europeans are older than we first thought. I believe history books will be changing in the near future. Thanks for the wonderful post.

  6. sjmn60

    Fascinating post, Gina. I wish there was more conclusive evidence Vikings were here in America -considering it ~is~ fact they made it to many, many other far and equally unlikely places, I have no problem accepting they may well have made it here, too. – Màìri Norris