Pioneer Viking Rune Stones


Rune Stone, Denmark Wikimedia commons

Rune stones with etched inscriptions, dating from the Viking age, are found all over Scandinavia. No one has truly figured them out.

My Seattle father, Hans Pederson, a Danish immigrant, died when I was one month old. I soon left Seattle and have spent much of my life on the East coast of Maine. So with northern coastal lore in mind, I recently went to a talk on a local rune stone found 60 years ago near Popham Beach, now held in the Maine State Museum.

Geologist Scott Wolter described how linguistics, history, and geology have converged to allow an understanding of the mysterious symbols on these stones. While Scandinavian Vikings honored fallen warriors with stones, prevalent by 1100, several hundred years later, pagan inscriptions began to give way to Christian symbols by the Renaissance around 1400.

The first American runic stone was found under the roots of a toppled tree in Kensington Minnesota. Why Minnesota? Wolters book, with co-author Richard Nielsen, archeologist The Kensington Rune Stone: Compelling New Evidence provides a fascinating explanation of this mystery. A glacier moved the stone near the river that moved it—probably around 1362. European Knights Templar, the first North American pioneers, inscribed these stones. They settled in the Minnesota area to escape religious persecution. They would have  predated Columbus or any other explorers.

Wolter’s talk boggled the mind as he presented his information in a rapid-fire staccato. Judging by the symbols on the rune stones near Popham Beach Maine, these stones probably date back to the Kensington Minnesota rune of 1362, not back to the Vikings 300 or 400 years earlier.

The scholarship is thorough and complex, and like most controversial ideas, threatens the status quo as well as other competing  theories. Books on these topics are available on Amazon.

Critics continue to scoff. Many maintain that these “rune stones” were merely etched with random inscriptions by a bunch of hippies.














2 responses

  1. Skeptics can go hide in their shadows of disbelief. I like to imagine a time where people left symbols of their life, their beliefs, their spiritual quests, with etchings on these rocks. What’s left is the ruins of these runes. If only we could decipher them! Great post, Paula.

    • This annual talk, by the local historical society, generally takes about an hour. The rune stone speaker finally stopped about 10:45 p.m. with everyone still glued to their seats. Several people bought the 3 books the speaker was selling (also on Amazon), that he has spent his life deciphering. Subjects include the Masons, Mary Magdalene, and Goddess Theory. I had heard vaguely of these concepts, along with the Knights Templar.He tied them to the rune stones.

      Many spend their lives studying these subjects, oftentimes in secret societies because they have often been considered subversive and iconoclastic. These subjects provide much food for thought and require study by those who would like to understand them and either agree or disagree with them.

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