Scholars say Kensington Runestone a ruse

Published: April 8, 2004 at 2:36 PM

MINNEAPOLIS, April 8 (UPI) -- Scholars who argue the Kensington Runestone is a 19th century ruse and not proof Norsemen reached Minnesota say they have the smoking rune to prove it.

Arguments over the Runestone's origin have gone on since 1898 when a Swedish-American farmer named Olof Ohman said he found the large stone on his farm at Kensington, Minn. The runic inscription describes a massacre of a party of Swedes and Norwegians in Minnesota in the year 1362, well before Christopher Columbus reached America.

But scholars have uncovered documents written in 1885 by 18-year-old Swedish tailor Edward Larsson, who sometimes wrote in runes, an ancient Scandinavian language that differs from the English alphabet. Larsson's runes included a secret alphabet or code used by tradesmen in Sweden in the late 1800s, the Minneapolis Star-Tribune reported. The same coded runes were found on the tablet.

"The resemblance was striking," said Henrik Williams, a runic specialist in Sweden. Williams wrote in an e-mail he was puzzled by the odd runes on the stone, but had earlier ruled out any chance of finding a missing link to explain them.

"Boy, was I wrong," he wrote.

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