If the slab of granite known as the Kensington Runestone is real, it proves the Vikings were in central Minnesota more than a century before Columbus discovered America. Researchers are taking the stone to Sweden to ask experts there if it’s genuine. There are many runestones in Sweden?massive rocks carved with strange designs and symbols.

The “runestone” was dug up by Swedish farmer Olof Ohman in 1898 while he was clearing stumps from his land near Kensington with his son Edward. Ohman claimed he had no idea who carved the ancient Scandinavian symbols, known as runes, into the rock. The inscription on the rock refers to a band of Vikings being there 650 years ago. It describes men in the exploring party being killed by Indians and says, “eight Goths and twenty-two Norwegians” came from “Vinland over west” in 1362. “We had camp by two skerries, one day’s journey north from this stone we were, and fished one day. After we came home, found ten men red with blood and dead.” (Skerries are rocks that are tiny islands).

In 1949, the Minnesota Historical Society made a recording of Edward’s voice when he was 61 years old. On it, he says, “I was ten years old and going to school at the time.” He describes helping his father pry the 200 pound rock from underneath a tree stump, and says, “?I sat down on it and started to dig in the dirt with my hands, as kids usually do, and I suggested to Dad that we should take it home and use it for a door step. And just then I discovered a carving on it. I told Dad it was written on.”

R.S. Thornton, the Douglas County Historian at the time the tape was made, asks him, “Did they look as though they were fresh? Or how did [the markings] look?”

“…They looked to me to have been there for many years,” Ohman replies.

Another man asks him, “Did you ever see your father writing runes on paper at any time before this stone was found?”

“No, sir.”

Bergman Richards, then president of the Minnesota Historical Society, asks, “Had the earth where the stone was found ever been farmed or plowed or disturbed in any way?”

Edward says, “Never.”

But the recording doesn’t satisfy the many critics who think the runestone is a hoax created by Scandinavian-Americans who wanted to be known as the discoverers of America.

A fiberglass replica of the stone has been placed on temporary display at the Runestone Museum in Alexandria, Minnesota, while the real stone is being taken Sweden, to be examined by some of the world’s top experts. It has already been studied by local geologist Scott Wolter. After examining the rough upper edges of the runes, he says, “I’m saying that the weathering of the inscription is older than 200 years and therefore, it has to be genuine.”

Anthropologist Michael Michlovic says, “?I still think the Kensington stone is a fake?Until runic experts, and until Scandinavian language experts, can look at this inscription and say, ‘yes, this medieval, ‘ I see no reason why we should accept this as authentic.”

In Sweden, papers from the 1880s by a 16-year-old boy have been found that are written a runic alphabet similar to one used on the runestone. Skeptics says this proves that people in the 19th century created the symbols. But Wolter says the boy may have been copying the alphabet from an older source. At least the papers prove that Ohman didn?t create the symbols himself.

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