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Secrets of the Runestone

The Kensington Runestone: A Viking mystery

Peter Stormare sets out to uncover the mystery of the Kensington Runestone

Peter Stormare and Elroy Balgaard try to solve the mystery of a runestone found in Kensington, USA, whose authenticity has been questioned since it was discovered by a Swedish immigrant over 100 years ago.

The Kensington Runestone is a big block of greywacke stone inscribed in runes. The Kensington Runestone was supposedly discovered in Kensington, which is in central Minnesota all the way back in 1898. A Swedish immigrant, Olof Öhman, reported that he accidentally unearthed it from a field underneath a tree in the mostly rural township of Solem in Douglas County. Olof Öhman declared that he found the Kensington Runestone late in 1898 as he was clearing a plot of land he had recently purchased. He was pulling up trees and stumps before plowing. The Kensington Runestone was said to be near the top of a small knoll that rose up above the wetlands. The Kensington Runestone was supposedly found flat, face down, and completely tangled up in the root of a poplar tree. The Kensington Runestone is about 30 × 16 × 6 inches (76 × 41 × 15 cm) in size and weighs in at 202 pounds (92 kg). The Kensington Runestone got its name when it was named after the nearest settlement, Kensington.

After being translated, the inscription on the Kensington Runestone appears to be a record left behind by Scandinavian explorers in the 14th century. The date inscribed onto the Kensington Runestone is the year 1362 (around three hundred years after the end of the Viking era). The Kensington Runestone is the centre of a strongly contested debate regarding the stone's authenticity. The scholarly consensus has classified it as a 19th-century hoax with some critics of the Kensington Runestone's authenticity directly pointing fingers at Olof Öhman. These critics of the Kensington Runestone claim that he had fabricated the inscription. Regardless, there remains a strong and vocal community that believes in the Kensington Runestone authenticity.

Peter Stormare (most famously known as the woodchipper guy from Fargo) is on a quest to prove the stone's province and authenticity. 'I'm sleepless over this mystery. I'm stumped that no one has dug deeper into this', says Peter Stormare.