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Kensington Runestone

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Ratina
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« on: April 25, 2010, 02:36:09 am »



Name    Kensington Runestone
Country    United States
Region    Minnesota
City/Village    Originally Kensington currently located at Alexandria, Minnesota
Produced    contested
Runemaster    contested

Kensington Runestone

The Kensington Runestone is a 200-pound slab of greywacke covered in runes on its face and side which, if it is genuine, would suggest that Scandinavian explorers reached the middle of North America in the 14th century. It was found in 1898 in the largely rural township of Solem, Douglas County, Minnesota, and named after the nearest settlement, Kensington. Almost all Runologists and experts in Scandinavian linguistics consider the runestone to be a hoax.[2][3] The runestone has been analysed and dismissed repeatedly without local effect.[4][5][6][7][8] The community of Kensington is solidly behind the runestone, which has transcended its original cultural purposes and has "taken on a life of its own".[9][10]
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Ratina
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« Reply #1 on: April 25, 2010, 02:37:04 am »

Text - Native
direct transliteration (Swedish dialect)

8 göter ok 22 norrmen po ??o opdagelsefard fro vinland of vest. vi hade läger ved 2 skelar en dags rise norr fro deno sten. vi var ok fiske en dagh, äptir vi kom hem fan 10 man røde af blod og ded. AVM frälse af illu.
[side of stone]: här 10 mans ve havet at se äptir vore skip 14 dagh rise from deno öh. ahr 1362
Text - English
(word-for-word): 8 Geats/Goths/Gutnish/Gotlanders and 22 Norwegians/Norsemen on a? journey of exploration, from Vinland west of. We had a camp with 2 shelters, one day's journey north from this stone. We were at fishing one day, after we came home found 10 men red of blood and dead. AVM (Ave Virgo Maria[1]) rescue from evils.
[side of stone] Have 10 men by/at sea to look after our ships, 14 day journey from this island. Year 1362.
Other resources
Runestones - Runic alphabet
Runology - Runestone styles
v • d • e
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Ratina
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« Reply #2 on: April 25, 2010, 02:38:18 am »

Provenance

Swedish American farmer Olof Öhman said he found the stone late in 1898 while clearing his land of trees and stumps before plowing, having recently taken over an 80-acre parcel that had for years been left unallocated as "Internal Improvement Land".[11] The stone was said to be near the crest of a small knoll rising above the wetlands, lying face down and tangled in the root system of a stunted poplar tree, estimated to be from less than 10 to about 40 years old.[12] The artifact is about 30 x 16 x 6 inches (76 x 41 x 15 cm) in size and weighs about 200 pounds (90 kg). Öhman's ten-year-old son noticed some markings and the farmer later said he thought they had found an "Indian almanac."

Unfortunately for provenance purposes, only family were said to be witnesses to the finding, although people who later saw the cut roots said that some were flattened, consistent with having held a stone. Also, there are many different versions describing when the stone was found (August or November, right after lunch or near the end of work for the evening), who discovered the stone (Öhman and his son; Öhman, his son and two workmen; Öhman, his son, and his neighbor Nils Flaten), when the stone was taken to the nearby town of Kensington, and who made the first inscriptions that were sent to a regional Scandinavian language newspaper.
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Ratina
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« Reply #3 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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Ratina
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« Reply #4 on: April 25, 2010, 02:39:25 am »

In 1907 the stone was purchased, reportedly for ten dollars, by Hjalmar Holand, a former graduate student at the University of Wisconsin–Madison. Holand renewed public interest with an article[14] enthusiastically summarizing studies that were made by geologist Newton Horace Winchell (Minnesota Historical Society) and linguist George T. Flom (Philological Society of the University of Illinois), who both published opinions in 1910.[15]

According to Winchell, the tree under which the stone was allegedly found had been destroyed before 1910, but several nearby poplars that witnesses estimated as being about the same size were cut down, and by counting their rings it was determined they were indeed around 30–40 years old (NB: letters were written to members of a team which had excavated at the find site in 1899, and their estimates from memory, without any reference to tree rings, ranged as low as 10–12 years in the case of county schools superintendent Cleve Van Dyke[16]). The surrounding county had not been settled until 1858, and settlement was severely restricted for a time by the Dakota War of 1862 (although it was reported that the best land in the township adjacent to Solem, Holmes City, was already taken by 1867, by a mixture of Swedish, Norwegian and "Yankee" settlers[17]).

Winchell also concluded that the weathering of the stone indicated the inscription was roughly 500 years old. Meanwhile, Flom found a strong apparent divergence between the runes used in the Kensington inscription and those in use during the 14th century. Similarly, the language of the inscription was modern compared to the Nordic languages of the 14th century.[15]

Most discussions over the Kensington Runestone's authenticity have been based on an apparent conflict between the linguistic and physical evidence[citation needed]. The Runestone's discovery by a Swedish farmer in Minnesota at a time when Viking history and Scandinavian culture were popular and sometimes controversial topics has caused skepticism of its provenance to linger for more than a hundred years.[citation needed]

The Kensington Runestone is currently on display at the Runestone Museum in Alexandria, Minnesota[18].
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Ratina
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« Reply #5 on: April 25, 2010, 02:40:11 am »

Possible historical background

In 1577, cartographer Gerardus Mercator wrote a letter containing the only detailed description of the contents of a geographical text about the Arctic region of the Atlantic, possibly written over two centuries earlier by one Jacob Cnoyen. Cnoyen had learned that in 1364, eight men had returned to Norway from the Arctic islands, one of whom, a priest, provided the King of Norway with a great deal of geographical information.[19] Books by scholars such as Carl Christian Rafn early in the 19th century revealed hints of reality behind this tale. A priest named Ivar Bardarsson, who had previously been based in Greenland, did turn up in Norwegian records from 1364 onward and copies of his geographical description of Greenland still survive. Furthermore, in 1354, King Magnus Eriksson of Sweden and Norway had issued a letter appointing a law officer named Paul Knutsson as leader of an expedition to the colony of Greenland, to investigate reports that the population was turning away from Christian culture.[20] Another of the documents reprinted by the 19th century scholars was a scholarly attempt by Icelandic Bishop Gisli Oddsson, in 1637, to compile a history of the Arctic colonies. He dated the Greenlanders' fall away from Christianity to 1342, and claimed that they had turned instead to America. Supporters of a 14th century origin for the Kensington runestone argue that Knutson may therefore have travelled beyond Greenland to North America, in search of renegade Greenlanders, most of his expedition being killed in Minnesota and leaving just the eight voyagers to return to Norway.[21]
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Ratina
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« Reply #6 on: April 25, 2010, 02:40:30 am »

However, there is no evidence that the Knutson expedition ever set sail (the government of Norway went through considerable turmoil in 1355) and the information from Cnoyen as relayed by Mercator states specifically that the eight men who came to Norway in 1364 were not survivors of a recent expedition, but descended from the colonists who had settled the distant lands, generations earlier.[19] Also, those early 19th century books, which aroused a great deal of interest among Scandinavian Americans would have been available to a late 19th century hoaxer.

Hjalmar Holand had proposed that interbreeding with Norse survivors might explain the "blond" Indians among the Mandan on the Upper Missouri River,[22] but in a multidisciplinary study of the stone, anthropologist Alice Beck Kehoe dismissed, as "tangential" to the Runestone issue, this and other historical references suggesting pre-Columbian contacts with 'outsiders', such as the Hochunk (Winnebago) story about an ancestral hero "Red Horn" and his encounter with "red-haired giants".[23]
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Ratina
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« Reply #7 on: April 25, 2010, 02:42:08 am »



Sigillum ad causas for Magnus II of Sweden
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« Reply #8 on: April 25, 2010, 02:42:40 am »

Other artifacts?

This waterway also contains alleged signs of Viking presence. At Cormorant Lake in Becker County, Minnesota, there are three boulders with triangular holes which are claimed to be similar to those used for mooring boats along the coast of Norway during the 14th century. Holand found other triangular holes in rocks near where the stone was found; however, experimental archaeology later suggested that holes dug in stone with chisels rather than drills tend to have a triangular cross-section, whatever their purpose.[29] A little further north, by the Red River itself, at Climax, Minnesota, a firesteel found in 1871, buried quite deep in soft ground, matched specimens of medieval Norse firesteels at the Oslo University museum in Norway.[30]

There has also been considerable discussion of what has recently been named the Vérendrye Runestone, a small plaque allegedly found by one of the earliest expeditions along what later became the U.S./Canada border, in the 1730s. "Allegedly", because it is not referred to in the journal of the expedition, or indeed any first-hand source; only in a summary of a conversation about the expedition a decade after it took place.[31]

No non-Native American artifacts dating from before 1492 have been recovered under controlled, professionally conducted archaeological investigations at any great distance from the east coast of the continent; and with current techniques, the dating of any holes cut into rocks in the region is as uncertain as the dating of the Kensington stone itself.
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Ratina
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« Reply #9 on: April 25, 2010, 02:43:21 am »

Debate

Holand took the stone to Europe and, while newspapers in Minnesota carried articles hotly debating its authenticity, the stone was quickly dismissed by Swedish linguists.

For the next 40 years, Holand struggled to sway public and scholarly opinion about the Runestone, writing articles and several books. He achieved brief success in 1949, when the stone was put on display at the Smithsonian Institution, and scholars such as William Thalbitzer and S. N. Hagen published papers supporting its authenticity.[32] However, at nearly the same time, Scandinavian linguists Sven Jansson, Erik Moltke, Harry Anderson and K. M. Nielsen, along with a popular book by Erik Wahlgren again questioned the Runestone's authenticity.[4]

Along with Wahlgren, historian Theodore C. Blegen flatly asserted[5] Öhman had carved the artifact as a prank, possibly with help from others in the Kensington area. Further resolution seemed to come with the 1976 published transcript[6] of an audio tape made by Walter Gran several years earlier. In it, Gran said his father John confessed in 1927 that Öhman made the inscription. John Gran's story however was based on second-hand anecdotes he had heard about Öhman, and although it was presented as a dying declaration, Gran lived for several years afterwards saying nothing more about the stone. In 2005 supporters of the runestone's authenticity attempted to explain this with claims that Gran was motivated by jealousy over the attention Öhman had received.

The possibility of a Scandinavian provenance for the Runestone was renewed in 1982 when Robert Hall, an emeritus Professor of Italian Language and Literature at Cornell University published a book (and a follow up in 1994) questioning the methodology of its critics. He asserted that the odd philological problems in the Runestone could be the result of normal dialectal variances in Old Swedish during the purported carving of the Runestone. Further, he contended that critics had failed to consider the physical evidence, which he found leaning heavily in favour of authenticity. Meanwhile in The Vikings and America (1986) former UCLA professor Erik Wahlgren wrote that the text bore linguistic abnormalities and spellings that suggested the Runestone was a forgery.[8]
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« Reply #10 on: April 25, 2010, 02:45:23 am »

Richard Nielsen

In 1983, inspired by Hall, Richard Nielsen, a trained engineer and amateur language researcher from Houston, Texas, studied the Kensington Runestone's runology and linguistics, disputing several earlier claims of forgery. For example, the rune which had been interpreted as standing for the letter J (and according to critics, invented by the forger) could be interpreted as a rare form of the L rune found only in a few 14th century manuscripts.[33]

In 2001, Nielsen published an article on the Scandinavian Studies website refuting claims the runes were Dalecarlian (a more modern form). He asserted that while some runes on the Kensington Runestone are similar to Dalecarlian runes, over half have no such connection, and are best explained by 14th-century usage. As indicated by the later discovery of the Larsson rune rows (see below) he was half right.
[edit] Text (Nielsen interpretation)

With one slight variation from the Larsson rune rows, using the letter þ (representing "th" as in "think" or "this") instead of d, the inscription on the face (from which a few words may be missing due to spalling, particularly at the lower left corner where the surface is calcite rather than greywacke) reads:
“    

8:göter:ok:22:norrmen:po:
??o:opþagelsefarþ:fro
vinlanþ:of:vest:vi:
haþe:läger:veþ:2:skylar:en:
þags:rise:norr:fro:þeno:sten:
vi:var:ok:fiske:en:þagh:äptir:
vi:kom:hem:fan:10:man:röþe:
af:bloþ:og:þeþ:AVM:
fräelse:af:illu:
   ”

Translation: Unlike the version in the infobox above, this is based on Richard Nielsen's 2001 translation of the text, which attempts specifically to put it into a medieval context, giving variant readings of some words:

    8 Geats and 22 Norwegians on ?? acquisition expedition from Vinland far west. We had traps by 2 shelters one day's travel to the north from this stone. We were fishing one day. After we came home, found 10 men red with blood and dead. AVM (Ave Maria) Deliver from evils.

The lateral (or side) text reads:
“    

har:10:mans:we:hawet:at:se:
äptir:wore:skip:14:þagh:rise:
from:þeno:öh:ahr:1362:
   ”
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Ratina
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« Reply #11 on: April 25, 2010, 02:46:45 am »

Translation:

    (I) have 10 men at the inland sea to look after our ship 14 days travel from this wealth/property. Year [of our Lord] 1362

When the original text is transcribed to the Latin script, the message becomes quite easy to read for any modern Scandinavian. This fact is one of the main arguments against the authenticity of the stone. The language of the inscription bears much closer resemblance to 19th century than 14th century Swedish.[4]

The AVM is historically consistent since any Scandinavian explorers would have been Catholic at that time. Earlier transliterations interpreted skelar as skjar, meaning skerries (small, rocky islands) but Nielsen's research suggested this meaning was unlikely, and the Larsson rune rows confirm his claim.
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« Reply #12 on: April 25, 2010, 02:48:30 am »



Codex Runicus, a vellum manuscript from c. 1300 containing one of the oldest and best preserved texts of the Scanian Law, was written entirely in runes.
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« Reply #13 on: April 25, 2010, 02:49:57 am »



The manuscript of the Codex Runicus contains 11 instances of the J rune, two of them appear on the last page of the manuscript, in the words for the oldest recorded melody in Scandinavia
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« Reply #14 on: April 25, 2010, 02:50:32 am »

Opthagelsefarth: Nielsen and others

As an example of how linguistic research affects the discussion of this text, no evidence has been found of the Swedish term opthagelse farth (journey of discovery), or updagelsfard as it often appears, in Old Swedish, Danish or Norwegian, nor in Middle Dutch or Middle Low German during the 14th or 15th centuries.

In the contemporary and modern Scandinavian languages the term is called opdagelsesrejse in Danish, oppdagingsferd or oppdagelsesferd in Norwegian and upptäcktsfärd in Swedish. It is considered a fact that the modern word is a loan-translation from Low German *updagen, Dutch opdagen and German aufdecken, which are in turn loan-translations of French découvrir.

In a conversation with Holand in 1911, the lexicographer of the Old Swedish Dictionary (Soderwall) noted that his work was limited mostly to surviving legal documents written in formal and stilted language and that the root word opdage must have been a borrowed Germanic term (i.e. from Low German, Dutch or High German). Also, the -else ending characterizes a class of words that the Scandinavians borrowed from their southern neighbors.
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