There’s ample evidence that the Vikings and various Scandinavians visited North America long before Columbus “discovered” it. There’s actual, definitive evidence of Norse colonization in Newfoundland from around the year 1000AD. There’s even evidence that that contact lasted for a few centuries.
But what’s lacking evidence is a nifty little hoax called the Kensington Rune Stone. This slab of sandstone was “discovered” by a Minnesota farmer in 1898. He claimed that when he found the stone, it had all of these Viking runes on it.
The late 1800s provided a slew of similar hoaxes, and so when it was finally taken seriously and examined by a linguist in 1910, it was almost immediately declared a fraud. Since then, it has been studied by various scholars, with nearly all concluding the same.
The most obvious piece of evidence is the that writing is a hodgepodge of errors that seem to indicate that it was carved by someone who didn’t really have a grasp of the language.
The runes on the stone date it to 1362. There are two problems with this. First, there is no conclusive evidence that any Scandinavians set out on a voyage to this “new” world at that time.
Further, and most importantly, there is zero archeological evidence supporting the notion that any Vikings were anywhere within many hundreds of miles of Minnesota. There are no camping sites, villages, tools, weapons, clothes – nothing. The only thing that they apparently left behind was this two and a half foot tall stone.
Of course, the locals claim it to be authentic. It’s the centerpiece of a really nice county museum (seriously, one of the nicest I’ve ever seen). They have it in a glass case and it’s surrounded by hoards of “evidence.”
For me, I’ll go with the science. The scholarly consensus from linguists, historians, and archaeologists is more than enough for me. While the museum somewhat urges you to weight the (obviously slanted) evidence and “decide for yourself,” I’ll save you the trouble. It’s a hoax – though one with a really fascinating and wonderful story.
‘Men Red of Blood and Dead’
Camera: Ricoh KR-5 (1979)
Film: Fuji Super F Series 250D (8562); x-08/2000; 100iso