Heavener Runestone State Park, Heavener Oklahoma
Walk Way down to where Heavener Runestone is Housed
Heavener, Oklahoma is located in the Poteau River Valley, South-East section of Oklahoma. Heavener is next to the Poteau Mountain (this mountain is actually behind the city of Heavener). Heavener resembles an ordinary small Oklahoman town residing in a lush green valley. It is quaint and quiet. The city of Heavener, however, has one of the most awesome historical sites hidden in the Poteau Mountain; known as the Heavener Runestone.
The Heavener Runestone, located in the Heavener Runestone State Park on the Poteau Mountain, has given archaeologists, anthropologists, and historians something to debate. It proves the Norse were in Oklahoma, North America, long before the 15th Century. In 1986, it was determined that the Heavener Runestone had been made before 800 A.D. The inscriptions on the runestone were from the 24-rune Futhark used from 300 A.D. through 800 A.D. in Scandinavia (where the Norse came from). This means the Norse beat Spain to America by more than 692 years!
How did the Norse reach Oklahoma? It has been calculated that the Norse traveled across the Atlantic, around the tip of Florida, into the Gulf of Mexico, reaching the Mississippi River, then sailed into its tributaries (the Arkansas and Poteau Rivers).
The Heavener Runestone (most famous) is not the only one. When my husband and I visited the runestone, we were able to view other smaller runestones too. We found this very exciting and have visited this site more than once. It's like stepping back into time, seeing something precious.
It is a lovely walk to the runestones, passing a Norse well under a crevasse, using stone stairs to wend one's way down to where the Heavener Runestone and the smaller ones are safely kept; protected from the elements. Takes about 10 minutes to walk down and about 15 minutes to walk up. Well worth the 25 minutes. One can make a day of it and enjoy the stone trail that goes all the way down into the small valley where the Norse resided. It is gorgeous and feels like walking in a forest. Lush and green. Smelling sweetly of the local flora and fauna.
The Heavener Runestone is 12 feet tall, 10 feet wide, and 16 inches thick. The runic inscription is in the lower-middle section of the gigantic stone. Breath-taking upon viewing. To me, the Heavener Runestone had a mystical timeless feel. Very exciting since I have Norse ancestry through my maternal grandmother. Made viewing this runestone and the others even more special. My husband enjoyed learning about the Norse; how they found Heavener and friendly traded with the local American Indian population. There is much to read on the wall that is on one's left upon entering (going down the stairs) into the "house" where the runestones are kept.
My husband and I were delighted to see Heavener Runestone State Park caring well for something this historically precious and exquisitely maintaining the Poteau Mountain. The State Park, day-use-only, has a picnic area with tables and outdoor grills. There is a playground near the information center, where one can receive free literature and purchase souvenirs. All ages are welcome to visit. This is a great family spot! I highly recommend visiting!
Where to find more about Heavener Runestone State Park and the Norse
For more information about Heavener Runestone State Park telephone (918) 653-2241, or email Heavener@OklahomaParks.com
There is a book by Gloria Farley titled In Plain Sight which explains when she first saw the Heavener Runestone, how it was studied, and the steps she took for secure its preservation. This non-fiction book goes into the scientific-historical aspects including the authors personal history with the Heavener Runestone. In Plain Sight is well written; an excellent resource book. This book is available at the Heavener State Park's Information Center and online on . Amazon
Wikipedia has more about the Norse here.
To see the 24-rune Futhark click here.