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The Kensington Rune Stone is a medieval artifact recently proven to be authentic. Read the story here of how, for over 100 years, repeated claims of hoax have been debunked forcing a major rewrite of American history.

In 1898, a Minnesota farmer unearthed this carved stone while felling a tree. It unleashed a storm of controversy that has still not abated today. Branded a hoax, the family of Olof Ohman endured scorn, ridicule and lies. The stone itself was “borrowed” by an unscrupulous researcher and never returned.

Over 100 years later, the stone rests in a small museum. While it had many adherents through the years, today new technology and newly discovered documents are tilting the scales sharply away from the possibility that the rune stone is the product of Olof’s hoax. These pages provide an overview of where we are with Kensington Rune Stone research. The information here is factual and correct but we do not claim to be unbiased - we believe the rune stone is genuine.

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Where We’ve Been and Where We Are On KRS Research

We are now in the second century of dispute, fraud, lying and cheating over the rune stone. The pendulum has swung back and forth many times, from hoax to legitimacy. The story has inevitably followed the same pattern. An academic or self-appointed scholar proclaims the stone to be a hoax and writes a book. Then his methods and scholarship are brought into question, and his failures become evidence for the rune stone’s authenticity. This continues today as personal agendas interfere with objective study. Fingers are pointed in both directions and the KRS sits there as a silent witness.

Many of the scholarly culprits of the past have been linguists. They proclaimed that there were runes on the stone that didn’t exist in the language in 1362, and so therefore the stone must be a hoax, which is to say it was carved by Olof Ohman. But then new discoveries of medieval runes in Europe dating to the correct period would emerge. Suddenly the tables are turned - how could a farmer have known about these runes decades before the academics discovered them? The language on the KRS is so complex and many of the forms so obscure that only a handful of people in the world today could reasonably attempt a similar carving. In 1898, the number was arguably zero, and certainly not a Minnesota farmer. The linguistic smoking gun on the rune stone is the dotted R, which we will discuss in much more detail.

In the first decade or so after the rune stone’s discovery, a Minnesota geologist, Newton Winchell, became involved. Even with the limited science of that day, he was able to determine that the carvings were very old and that there was no reason to doubt the 1362 date on the stone. But the geology was never given the weight or importance of the linguistics, even though the linguists were being proven wrong with regularity. During that time there was also no refutation of Winchell’s findings.

Beginning in 2000 and culminating with the publication of his book, “Kensington Rune Stone: Compelling New Evidence,” another Minnesota geologist, Scott Wolter, performed modern scientific tests on the stone and the carvings. By comparing the deterioration of mica in colonial gravestones of a similar type and in a similar environment, he determined that the deterioration in the rune stone carvings was much more advanced. The carvings were centuries old when they came out of the ground in 1898. This does not prove the stone “was” carved in 1362 as dated, but it does show it was not done done by Ohman or any of his contemporaries. Indeed, there are no viable candidates within accepted Minnesota history for the period between the 14th century and the first 19th century settlers.

While there is a linguistic story and a geologic story to the KRS, there is also a human story. It’s the story of a family who innocently discovered an artifact, and while trying to do the right thing were alternately exploited and vilified. Not by their friends and neighbors in the small community of Kensington, though. No, those people were solidly behind Olof Ohman. They knew him to be an honest man and the whole family was respected. It was the people who didn’t know him and didn’t care who conducted the hatchet job. “Experts” and academics leaped at the chance to get their name in print in an article, maybe even write a book. It seemed easy to accuse the Swedish farmer, everybody “knew” the Swedes supposedly wanted to believe the tales about their Viking ancestors being in America before Columbus. Besides, Olof “knew about runes” or so the story went, so he obviously carved the stone and pretended to find it. Of course the experts needed to appear as having reached their conclusions with a more scholarly process than that, so they pointed to “errors” that Olof had made, proving it was a modern forgery. Never mind that they were wrong over and over.

Through photos and letters, and testimonies of people in the community, you can see how the burden of an accusation with no court to defend yourself in, weighed on Olof and his wife and children. They had property stolen, and the stress and strain no doubt led to some tragic early deaths. Olof never backed down on his story or his defense of the stone as genuine. No-one in the family doubted it for a moment. In recent years the family has gained some redemption as evidence mounts that the KRS is a genuine medieval artifact. But even today, there are those who accuse Olof of fraud. More common these days is the dissembling wording that says there is no evidence that Olof carved the stone, but still denying it’s authenticity. This is done despite the knowledge that there are no candidates to have carved the stone between 1362 and Olof. This appears to be the new technique for a group of KRS adversaries to appease those in the community and across the state who support the stone’s authenticity. But the issue is not evidence or lack of evidence that Olof carved it, he could not possibly have done so. If one wants to theorize, even covertly hint, that someone other than the 1362 party or Olof carved the stone, then “that” is the evidence that is lacking.

 

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A Few Words About This Site From Darwin Ohman, Grandson of Olof Ohman

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