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Knights at the Bookshelf By Sir Knight Douglas M. Rowe

The Kensington Rune Stone - Compelling New Evidence, Authors: Richard Nielson and Scott F. Wolter, Publisher: Lake Superior Agate Publishing, 2006, ISBN 1–58175–562-7. (Reviewer’s Note: The Kensington Rune Stone is a 200 lb. stone slab discovered in 1898 by Minnesota farmer Olof Ohman, engraved with Scandinavian characters (runes), and purporting to record a 14th century pre-Columbian expedition of Goths and Norwegians to the interior of North America.)


he authors’ stated purpose is to refute a century of consensus opinion labeling the rune stone a hoax by presenting “compelling new evidence” (i.e. the work’s subtitle) supporting the artifact’s authenticity. The writers promote the artifact’s authenticity by selectively presenting circumstantial evidence that farmer Ohman would or could not have perpetrated such a hoax. Even the deathbed confession of Mr. Ohman’s self-admitted hoax accomplice is discounted as unreliable. (Note: In many states dying declarations are granted exemptions from evidentiary rules barring hearsay testimony.) From the outset, this work is odd in many senses. Odd in organization and layout, odd in physical dimensions, (presenting both shelving and handling challenges), and most importantly, odd in the extraordinary amount of hours and calories spent authenticating an artifact which, even if totally legitimate, would break little new ground or add much to the historical record. The work is organized in roughly two sections; first, the various scientific investigations and second, one of the author’s personal experiences with the stone. The author’s experiences provide a more interesting narrative, and the work’s readability could be improved if they were presented first with the various scientific investigations included as following appendices. The scientific sections include geological and linguistic investigations. The approximately forty page geology section details various physical tests conducted on the stone. (Note: One author is a professional geologist.) In summary, the tests determined that the stone was typical and common to geological formations of upper


july 2013