Top Ten Viking Hoaxes

Viking Ship in Hawaii1. Vinland Map. The so called Vinland Map is a medieval style map of the old world. It is said to date to the 15th century, when it was purportedly redrawn from a 13th century original. In the western Atlantic it has a large island identified as Vinland, which is the name given to an area in North America by Leif Eriksson who discovered it early in the 11th century. The Vinland Map came to light in 1957, when it was offered for sale to the British Museum, which turned it down because of its lack of provenance and non-original binding. Later the Vinland Map was bought by Paul Mellon who donated it to Yale University. In 1996 it was reported that insurers valued the map at $25 million. Even though the authenticity of the Vinland Map has enthusiastic supporters, the most of the researchers believe it to be a modern hoax.
2. Kensington Runestone. The runestone was found in 1898 in the township of Solem, Douglas County, Minnesota, and named after the nearest settlement, Kensington. According to Swedish American farmer Olof Öhman, it was lying face down and tangled in the root system of a stunted poplar tree. The stone is about 30 x 16 x 6 inches and weighs about 200 pounds. It is covered with runes on its face and side. The inscription suggests that the Vikings reached the middle of North America in the 14th century. The Kensington Runestone was repeatedly analysed by runologists and linguists and dismissed as a hoax. It is currently on display at the Runestone Museum in Alexandria, Minnesota.
3. Thorwald’s Rock in Hampton. Near the Tuck Museum on Park Avenue in Hampton, New Hampshire, there is a circular well covered by a metal grate. Inside of the well there is a rather large rock covered with slashes, which is believed to once have marked the grave of Thorvald, brother of Viking explorer Leif Eriksson. The Saga of Erik the Red says that Thorvald Eriksson, during his exploration of Vinland, stopped at a beautiful land. Attacked by Indians, Thorvald was shot through the heart by an arrow and was buried there. In 1902 Hampton district court judge Charles A. Lamprey wrote to the local newspaper claiming that a stone that had been on his family’s land since 1600s marked Thorvald’s death site. Thorwald’s Rock is now considered to be a hoax.
4. Leif Eriksson Runestone from Nomans Land. In November 1926 Joshua Crane, who then owned Nomans Land island, Massachusetts, spotted some lettering on a large rock near the water’s edge. The same inscription was noticed by Captain Wood, who worked as caretaker of the island. It was photographed in 1927 by Edward F. Gray, a writer who researched Norse voyages to North America for a book, which appeared in 1930. Subsequent efforts to decipher the runes concluded that the first two lines read, “Leif Eriksson, 1001.” The inscription has grammatical anomalies and the mixture of runes from different periods. The mixture of runes with Roman numerals seems no less suspect. The consensus is that the stone is actually a hoax.
5. Viking Ship in Hawaii. April 1st, 1936, the Honolulu Star-Bulletin published a story about a Viking ship discovered in Hawaii, accompanied by a photo of the rare find (see above). However, no such thing has ever been discovered there. It is doubtful whether Vikings could in fact reach Hawaii on their longships.
6. Wisconsin Viking Horse Skull. In 1935 during excavations of mounds dating to 500-700 AD near Spencer Lake, in Burnett Country, along with many other finds archeologists discovered a horse skull. This was something unheard of, since horses are not native to this hemisphere. The find was believed to prove that Vikings both discovered North America and settled far inland at a very early date. For many years the find was not challenged. However, in 1962 one of the archeologists, Ralph Linton, published a confession of a certain “Mr. P.” who in 1928, as a teenager, had buried the skull in the mound.
7. Frank Cowan Viking Literary Hoax. In 1867 Frank Cowan, who was once a secretary to U. S. President Andrew Johnson, wrote and published a literary hoax that claimed the discovery of an Icelandic Christian woman, who had died in 1051 AD, below the Great Falls of the Potomac River. The hoax was intended to raise sales of a Georgetown newspaper owned by Cowan’s friend Thomas Birch Florence. It indeed caused the sales to skyrocket.
8. Viking Ship Museum Hoax. April 1st, 2007, the Viking Ship Museum Roskilde published a press release, which stated that Ireland has claimed the handing-over of the wreck of Skuldelev 2, the remains of a Viking ship on display in museum, because of the fact that the ship was built in 1042 AD in Ireland. The press release further stated that after long and secret negotiations the National Museum in Dublin and the Viking Ship Museum reached an agreement: a true copy of Skuldelev 2, Sea Stallion of Glendalough, which was planned to perform a voyage from Roskilde to Dublin in summer of the same year, had to be handed over to Irish authorities. To be sure, Sea Stallion came back to Roskilde safely and it was all a hoax.
9. Oklahoma Runestones. It is a group of stones with runic or rune-like inscriptions including Heavener Runestone, Poteau Runestone, Shawnee Runestone and Spirit Pond Runestone. Heavener inscription, the most notorious of the group, probably has the word GNOMEDAL in the Elder Futhark runes. The problem is that this type of runic writing became obsolete long before the Viking expeditions to North America.
10. CBA Hoax. April 1st, 2009, the Council for British Archeology published an article, which stated that a new find from the far north of Scotland suggests that Vikings did in fact wear horned helmets. Along with a detailed description of the find, the article featured an interview with the excavation director Ren Lögn who said, “It is clear that the helmet was worn with one horn up and one down. Equally important is the fact that it was worn fore and aft not side-to-side.”

{ 41 comments… read them below or add one }

Deses

Personally, I would put the Kensington Runestone at the top of the list, because it spawned an entire industry of all things Viking in Minnesota, even though it is known to be a definite hoax.

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Viking Rune

Hi Deses,
I’ll think about it. For me, the Vinland map goes first mostly because of its estimated value.

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telcontar

While there is a great likelihood that most or all of these objects are fakes, the evidence of Vikings in Canada at least is there to see. I cannot accept that runes were not in use at the time of the Viking journeys. Younger Futhark was still around and the Greenlanders were a bit behind Europe proper. There is no obvious reason why Vikings could not have reached other parts of North America than L’Anse aux Meadows. Just not much decent evidence. However, most people thought that the Vinland story itself was a hoax when it clearly was not. Certainly as much evidence as there was for the silly bloody horned helmets. No Viking I reckon would ever have worn such an inefficient piece of gear.
Cheers

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Viking Rune

Hi Telcontar,
The point of the post above is certainly not to assert that vikings could not go farther than L’Anse aux Meadows. Writing about hoaxes by no means presupposes that the author denies the possibility of finding true evidence as such. I do think that vikings could (theoretically) reach both Minnesota and Oklahoma. As for the runes, I only said that “this type of runic writing became obsolete” meaning the Elder Futhark. To be sure, the Younger Futhark was still in use. Thanks for the feedback! Have a nice day.

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Erik Ringdal

Of the ten listings, we must observe that three are dated on the first of april, all three very funny, especially with number ten, where excavating director is called Ren Lögn, meaning “Clear Lie” in both Danish, Norwegian and Swedish.
Very good!

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Viking Rune

Hi Erik. Very funny indeed. Thanks for your comment!

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Steve

I saw a film on The History Channel on Spetmeber 20, 2009, which seemed to make a pretty strong case for the Kensington Runes, including explaining some of the supposed inconsistencies in some of the characters. Did anyone else here see it? If so, do you have a source that counters what they said?

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Virginia

I saw that too. To me, the alignment of the Kensington Runes with other known sites in the US and Britain was intriguing.

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sherman

Hey, thanks for pointing out the April 1st, I missed that.

The Grail in America story on the history channel ties the Templars to the Kensington runestone. (I don’t buy it) but Scot Wolter tested the runestone and determined the runes had to have been carved hundreds of years ago. The weathering of the runes cannot be faked.
This refutes the claim that Olaf Ohman the finder had carved it in the late 1800s.
While researching the runes in Scandinavia, Wolters also found the 5 or 6 runes that the experts had claimed were not yet in use in 1362. All these runes have been found on runestones carved before the 1300s.
Wolters then also found that a flag or hook on the “X” is the mark of templars and masons.
There will be a part 2 and I would also expect them to rerun part one again. It has been on about 4 times.

I do ancient Viking research in Minnesota. The dozens of metal artifacts found throughout this area are from the Vikings. There are many mooring stones too. I have found a whetstone and a javelin tip and many mooring stones along the ancient waterway they traveled across Minnesota.
We are just getting started…

thanks
sherm

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Michael Zalar

Regarding the Kensington Runestone, there is certainly good evidence that it is not a hoax.
For instance the dotted R rune found in several places on the stone. Though a medieval rune form, it was not known in the 19th century (it was not rediscovered by scholars until the 1930s). It is the rune for the palatal R sound, and the three instances it is found in the Kensington inscription, it serves that purpose. I can see no reasonable scenario where a 19th century forger would or could have put such a rune in the inscription.
The date on the stone, 1362, also lends credence to the case for authenticity. There is a 16th century document which notes that an expedition returned from a voyage beyond Greenland in 1364, compatible with the Kensington date. However in the 19th century, this voyage was considered to be an English voyage, completely unsuitable for a forger suggesting a Norse expedition to use (1347 would have been a far better date, as there was published information noting ship arriving in Iceland from Markland).
These are just a couple of pieces of evidence that would suggest the Kensington Rune Stone should not be considered a hoax. There are certainly others. Hopefully you will reconsider putting this in your list.

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sherman

Hello Michael and all, the “Grail in America” will be on the history channel dec. 14th.

This tells the story of the Kensington Runestone.

Do they get the History Channel in Scandinavia?

It is so amazing that one of North America’s greatest artifacts is still called a fake.

thanks
sherm

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Michael W

Hi awesome site!
I would like all of you interested in this subject to listen to Scott Wolter’s appearance at radio station: Coast to Coast AM Date: 08-09-09.

He connects one of the markings on the Kensington Runestone that he calls the Hooked X symbol (wich is still called a hoax symbol today) to other Runestones in the US and to a 14th century monastic order from Gotland.

To answer Sherman : Yes we get History Channel in Scandinavia, if we pay for it :P

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Kim L Ohman

Well I am Olaf Ohmans grandson. I’m pretty darn sure he did not make the stone. Also the book of Wolters is pretty well done and proves the writing is as old as the time frame claimed. I wish I had the stone back from the state of Minn as it’s claimed to still point ownership to my grandfather. Note I’m the only one in the Ohman clan to feel this way. My grandfather could not read runes fact had and got nothing in return for finding the stone other than feeling bad about his rep. I am proud of him for standing his ground and it’s a shame we had to give up a 168 a farm for the sum 18.500 us what a rip off my blood boils thinking about it today and could not do much being 14 years old when it all went down. The great part is we all have the choice to believe what we feel is right. 4000 plus souls lost in the Gulf War is proof we still have this right proud to be a Ohman sure, Norse dang right living in the state of Alaska and the USA priceless good day all!

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steve

Kim, would you contact me please.
thanks
steve
hilgren@yahoo.com

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Tom Thowsen

The Kensington Runestone is authentic! There’s no doubt! Just look at the irregular shape it has. The stonemason was probably killed himself, before the stone got finished. Three of the sides are carved in a bevelled shape. But the fourth is nearly untouched. This explains why the stone was found with the inscribed surface down, and the backside up. It’s because the stonemason could reach the last detail from the backside. But something happened. The stone was left unfinished. And the nature itself buried the stone with falling leaves and dirt during 500 years of time – left to be find by Mr. Olof Ohman in 1898. In front of me, I have some very rare 3D pictures of the Runestone. They show it clearly. Olof Ohman could not have been a hoaxer. Right now, I am working with convincing my sceptic countrymen in Norway. Have a nice day!

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stephen

Does anyone have any of the photos that were taken from Edward F. Gray of the Eriksson rune stone? And does anyone know a specific location of where it can be found during low tide?

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