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History of American Towns - Alexandria, Minnesota and the Controversial Historical Minnesota Kensington Runestone

Updated on August 5, 2015

The Runestone


The Runestone

The Kensington Runestone is a 200 lb slab of greywacke 30 x 16 x 6 inches, which has runes (letters used in some Germanic languages) carved on the face and sides. It was found in 1898 near the settlement of Kensington in Minnesota. It has been a subject of controversy ever since.

Big Ole


Runestone Controversy

It is housed in Alexandria’s Runestone museum. In the days before the U.S. Civil War, brothers Alexander and William Kinkead followed their dreams from Delaware to Minnesota territory. They arrived in Minnesota when it was moving toward statehood. In1858 they homesteaded a tract of land on the south shore of Lake Agnes and formed a town with five Minnesota men. In 1859 a Post Office was established in Alexander’s cabin and he became postmaster. The town was given his name.

Their brother William and his wife Clara joined them. Clara kept a diary, which is now in the Douglas County Historical Society’s archives. Although the brothers enlisted in the Army during the Civil War the town was distanced from the war. However another war with Indians was looming. When word came of an eminent attack most of the town fled to Sauk Center and St. Cloud.

The town was resettled after the 1860’s. It was in 1898 the Olaf Ohman uncovered the Runestone on his farm. The stone was displayed at a hardware store or possibly the bank. If authentic it would indicate that Vikings came to Minnesota in the 14th Century. Numerous books and articles have been written about it. On the other hand it could be one of the biggest hoaxes ever.

When the stone was discovered the journey of Leif Ericson to Vinland (North America) was being widely discussed and a renewed interest in Vikings was stirred up in Scandinavia by the National Romanticism Movement.

Many experts in languages, philosophy and other specialties have examined the stone but most thought it a fake. Hjalmer Holand who was a student of Scandinavian migration took an interest in the stone. He took the stone to his home in Door County, Wisconsin and began a campaign to establish its authenticity.

Holand took the stone to Chicago and to several countries in Europe and debated it authenticity with scholars. In 1928 a group of Alexandria business people bought the stone for $2000 and local people raised money for a display case. In1935 it was displayed at the American institute in Minneapolis.

Lorayne Larson throughout the 1930’s lectured about it in many states traveling with the stone in the back of her Ford touring car. She wrote a pageant in 1938 about it that was part of the Alexandria civic celebration.

In 1974 Runestone enthusiast Marion Dahm discovered remnants of Viking homes near where the stone was originally found.

Over the years the stone has been displayed many important places but no authenticity has been determined.

One theory of why Vikings might have come to Minnesota seems a bit far-fetched. S story that King Magnus of Sweden had issued a letter to appoint a law officer to go to Greenland, which was a colony, to investigate rumors that the population was falling away from Christianity. Those who like this theory thin that the lawman went beyond Greenland to North America. There seems no evidence to support the theory.

It appears the debate will continue for a long time.



© 2010 Don A. Hoglund


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    • dahoglund profile image

      Don A. Hoglund 4 years ago from Wisconsin Rapids

      Thanks for the additional information.

    • profile image

      kensingtonsq 4 years ago

      Future residents will be able to walk to the existing Bartley MRT in the Circle Line. With such a short drive to the city area as well as the orchard and bugis area, entertainment for your love ones and family will come at a stone’s throw away.

    • dahoglund profile image

      Don A. Hoglund 7 years ago from Wisconsin Rapids

      Having grown up in Minnesota it is part of the state lore, which is why one comment referred to the Vikings football team.We even discussed it in my anthropology courses in college.Thanks for your comment.

    • Peggy W profile image

      Peggy Woods 7 years ago from Houston, Texas

      This is interesting no matter if the Runestone is authentic or not. If a farce, it was certainly a well devised one. Thanks for bringing this to my attention. You certainly come up with some interesting subjects!

    • dahoglund profile image

      Don A. Hoglund 7 years ago from Wisconsin Rapids

      Thanks for reading it. The Runestone has been a controversy for a long time.

    • Coolmon2009 profile image

      Coolmon2009 7 years ago from Texas, USA

      Enjoyed reading this article. Thanks for bringing this to my attention.

    • dahoglund profile image

      Don A. Hoglund 7 years ago from Wisconsin Rapids

      Thanks for your comment. I probably only remember Alexandria because I think my anthropology professor probably talked about it along with bigfoot and other unproven stuff.

    • Storytellersrus profile image

      Barbara 7 years ago from Stepping past clutter

      L'Anse aux Meadows in Newfoundland is the only authenticated Viking site in North America. It was established in 1001 by the explorer Leif Eriksson and rediscovered by Helge Ingstad and his wife Anne Stine in 1960. A child named Snorri is considered the first white child born on American soil.

      Thanks for exploring the story of Alexandria! I remember it well!!

    • dahoglund profile image

      Don A. Hoglund 7 years ago from Wisconsin Rapids


      Thanks for your comment. What I think is odd is that nobody has proven it to be a hoax.

    • Tom Whitworth profile image

      Tom Whitworth 7 years ago from Moundsville, WV


      Whether the Vikings made it there or not the story is very interesting. Good hub.

    • dahoglund profile image

      Don A. Hoglund 7 years ago from Wisconsin Rapids

      I think it is possible that some Vikings could have gotten there. The question, of coarse, is did they? The runestone, if authentic, would be evidence that they did.

      thanks for they comment.

    • Pete Sardino profile image

      Pete Sardino 7 years ago from Off Piste

      Neither a scroll nor a runestone, as you said it was a letter. There could be any number of other explanations whatever the king of Sweden might say, about anything.

      Breton, Irish and other fishermen knew about cod fisheries toward Massachusetts; why would it seem implausible that such fishermen as the Icelanders or Greenlanders wouldn't go where the fish were, or explore up inlets as their descendants do today in thousands of lakes and rivers on a smaller scale? I'd expect they did it more than once, and more than one place.

      Of course some of their descendants between fishing expeditions might spend too much potential brainpower on the sporttube too and wind up relating all serious subjects through greenbay-tinted lenses at first, but can be serious afterwards. If it was Saturday, it would have been a badger thing.

    • dahoglund profile image

      Don A. Hoglund 7 years ago from Wisconsin Rapids


      Thanks for commenting. Was it a scroll or a runestone?

    • profile image

      Vern Borth 7 years ago

      Wait til they find the scroll that King Magnus sent authorizing the lawman to form a football team!