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Kensington Runestone

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Author Topic: Kensington Runestone  (Read 2563 times)
Ratina
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« on: April 25, 2010, 02:38:45 am »

When Öhman discovered the stone, the journey of Leif Ericson to Vinland (North America) was being widely discussed and there was renewed interest in the Vikings throughout Scandinavia, stirred by the National Romanticism movement. Five years earlier a replica Viking ship had been sailed from Norway to Chicago for the World's Columbian Exposition. There was also friction between Sweden and Norway (which ultimately led to Norway's independence from Sweden in 1905). Some Norwegians claimed the stone was a Swedish hoax and there were similar Swedish accusations because the stone references a joint expedition of Norwegians and Swedes at a time when they were both ruled by the same king. In Minnesota, Scandinavians were newcomers, still struggling for acceptance; the runestone took root in a community that was proud of its Scandinavian heritage.[13]

Soon after it was found, the stone was displayed at a local bank. There is no evidence Öhman tried to make money from his find. An error-ridden copy of the inscription made its way to the Greek language department at the University of Minnesota, then to Olaus J. Breda, a professor of Scandinavian languages and literature there from 1884 to 1899, who showed little interest in the find. Breda made a translation, declared it to be a forgery and forwarded copies to linguists in Scandinavia. Norwegian archaeologist Oluf Rygh also concluded the stone was a fraud, as did several other linguists.

The stone was then sent to Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois. With scholars either dismissing it as a prank or unable to identify a sustainable historical context, it was returned to Öhman, who is said to have placed it face down near the door of his granary as a "stepping stone" which he also used for straightening out nails. Years later, his son said this was an "untruth" and that they had it set up in an adjacent shed, but he appears to have been referring only to the way the stone was treated before it started to attract interest at the end of 1898.
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