Biggest Ball of String

Our road trip adventures, quirky roadside attractions, generally in the United States or Canada (and with occasional travel off the mainland into Hawaii, Alaska, Caribbean and Europe – so far)

Alexandria’s Runestone

on October 10, 2012

Sick of being in the car, I convinced Peter that we should go into Alexandria MN and take a look at this ancient runestone they have there (another find on http://www.roadsideamerica.com/story/2607)

Previously, the only experience I had with runestones was the brief lesson found in the introduction to The Hobbit, by JRR Tolkien.

From The Hobbit, Second Printing 1977

Tolkien explains:

“Runes were old letters originally used for cutting or scratching on wood, stone, or metal, and so were thin and angular. At the time of this tale only Dwarves made regular use of them, especially for private or secret records. Their runes are in this book represented by English runes, which are known now to few people”.

The explanation goes on to discuss how they are used, how they compare to modern English, and how they can be translated…

Therefore, having read this when I was 10 or 11, and having done no further research, I assumed runes and runestones were products of the imagination…

 Until I read about this particular runestone on roadsideamerica.com.

Replica, 5 times the size of the original

This one (called the Kensington Runestone, after a nearby settlement) is not Dwarvish, but Viking, and is dated 1362. A farmer named Olof Ohmandug it up in a field in Minnesota, in 1898.

 9 years later, Hjalmer R. Holand (a University of Wisconsin history major), translated the Stone, and it says something like:

” 8 : göter : ok : 22 : norrmen : po :
…o : opþagelsefärd : fro :
vinland : of : vest : vi :
hade : läger : ved : 2 : skLär : en :
dags : rise : norr : fro : þeno : sten :
vi : var : ok : fiske : en : dagh : äptir :
vi : kom : hem : fan : 10 : man : röde :
af : blod : og : ded : AVM:
frälse : äf : illü.”

 (As per Wikipedia, The Kensington Runestone, Historic Mysteries (the Kensington Runestone,and other reports.) 

OK. Fine. The translation of that translation is something like:

“8 Goths and 22 Norweigans on exploration journey from Vinland over the west. We camp by 2 skerries one day-journey from this stone. We were and fished one day. After we came home, 10 men red with blood and tourtured. Hail Virgin Mary, save from evil. Have 10 men by the sea to look after our ship, 14 day -journeys from this island year 1362.”

It sounds like a terrible journey, but that’s all that’s reported. Or, if there’s more, it’s on other runestones buried here or there. We did go TO the Runestone Museum, and I saw Ole the Viking across the street, but…didn’t actually go INTO the Museum! Why? I don’t remember.

Oh! That is SO NOT TRUE!! We didn’t go in because: Well, first of all, Alexandria wasn’t right beside the road, but a tiny little detour. Second of all, I hadn’t really written down instructions on where the Runestone was, so I was guessing it could be at the Museum…so, third of all (and in summary), we were arguing by the time we got there, and it didn’t seem as much fun…Now, I regret not going in. (Life lesson for next time.)

We did, however, track down the larger-than-life runestone replica on a nearby highway (see above picture) – a monument actually, on the side of the road – it’s 5x bigger than the original!

 Some people say it’s a hoax or forgery. Lots of studies have been done. How would I know if it is or not? Either way, it’s intriguing…

(As far as hoaxes go.. It seems to me that there could be easier hoaxes to pull off – ones that didn’t take as much work and wouldn’t be examined so
carefully..like…the corn flake that looks like a saint…or whatever…)

Oh goodness! Didn’t make it to Minneapolis! (In real life, we went from Fargo to Minneapolis in a few hours.) Sunday, for sure!! (I’m practically positive…)
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