Dr. Henrik Williams, professor of Scandinavian languages at Uppsala University in Uppsala, Sweden, will present the 2010 O. Fritiof Ander Lecture in Immigration History on Friday, Oct. 1, 7 p.m. in room 102 in the Hanson Hall of Science (726 35th St.). Williams will debunk myths about the mysterious Kensington Runestone, a stone that allegedly marks the arrival of Scandinavians in central Minnesota in the 14th century.
The Kensington Runestone was discovered in 1898 by Olof Öhman on his farm near Kensington, Minnesota. According to Öhman, the 200-pound, two-and-a-half-foot high stone was under a tree and was covered with strange letters, which scholars identified as runes, or the letters used to write early Germanic languages. Its inscription describes a visit by a party of Scandinavians and is dated to 1362.
Experts on Scandinavian languages and runes have concluded that the inscription on the Kensington Runestone is not medieval. However, Williams warns against calling it a “fake,” which implies that it was created to deceive. “Almost everyone who sees the runestone as a fake will claim that it is worthless,” said Williams. “My attitude is exactly the opposite. The inscription is of interest to historians of Scandinavian languages, even though it is not as old as it declares.”
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