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.”

72 comments… add one
  • James Litchfield

    I was born and raised on the Cherokee Nation and have visited the Heavener Runestone. I have been to actual Viking digs. I’d like to remind everyone of Occam’s Razor. Also known as the principle of parsimony or the law of parsimony (Latin: lex parsimoniae), is the problem-solving principle that “entities should not be multiplied beyond necessity”, sometimes inaccurately paraphrased as “the simplest explanation is usually the best one.” The idea is frequently attributed to English Franciscan friar William of Ockham (c.  1287–1347), a scholastic philosopher and theologian, although he never used these words. This philosophical razor advocates that when presented with competing hypotheses about the same prediction, one should select the solution with the fewest assumptions, and that this is not meant to be a way of choosing between hypotheses that make different predictions.
    In science, Occam’s razor is used as an abductive heuristic in the development of theoretical models rather than as a rigorous arbiter between candidate models. In the scientific method, Occam’s razor is not considered an irrefutable principle of logic or a scientific result; the preference for simplicity in the scientific method is based on the falsifiability criterion. For each accepted explanation of a phenomenon, there may be an extremely large, perhaps even incomprehensible, number of possible and more complex alternatives. Since failing explanations can always be burdened with ad hoc hypotheses to prevent them from being falsified, simpler theories are preferable to more complex ones because they tend to be more testable.
    “When you have eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth.” – Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, stated by Sherlock Holmes
    It is possible the Vikings sailed up the middle of North America. That may be the truth.

  • Lisa Davidson

    About the runes being “obsolete” at the time they were apparently written — that doesn’t mean a thing. People are always writing ancient characters because they look good. I used to draw little ankhs all the time, yet I have never been to Egypt.

  • John

    I live about 12 miles from Hampton New Hampshire. It has yet to be proven that Thorad’s stone is a fake. As you said the judge whom owned the property and had been in his family for years signed a letter stating the Rick had been there since the 1600s.

  • James Breedlove

    Oklahoma Runestones, except the rune stone still exist, therefore there was no debunking, rather your interpretation requires greater research. If you are correct, then perhaps their symbol interpretations by the archaeological team were wrong. However, I think not.

  • Dan Anderson

    Ok, I generally as a rule stay out of websites comment sections, but enough is enough. I am a middle aged man. I am a descendant of the viking clan or tribe that left Gotland which is now a part of sweden. I identify as Swedish descent and an immigrant to America. My Great Grandmother was born on an Island off the coast of Gotland and was proud to be from that Country. She spoke and old form of Gutnish that is now all but extinct. Sweden when it took over Gotland all but tried to wipe out it’s heritage due to the Christian religion pushing out the existing pagan religion practiced there. So most of that heritage and culture was wiped out or erased or covered over. The catholic movement did this to everyone. Because of what happened in history most of my family heritage is lost. Now for all you idiots out there that run around all high and mighty in academia I have a few words. Runes were a form of communication not just a letter system. The language was diverse and changing from one clan or tribe to the next. Our individual families passed down knowledge and information through stories and songs. Later language started to be recorded. The newest form of language my grandma spoke was Old Norse and even that was difficult some times for her to write. She wrote to her sister living in Sweden quite often. By 1960 she could hardly communicate with her sister anymore due to the evolving Swedish language now far removed from Old Gutnish. Unfortunately now the language my grandmother new is lost. The runes on the stones that are supposedly hoaxes were commented on by modern elitists that don’t have knowledge of things they just guess at and so dismiss it. Much of my native language and history has been lost due to it’s nature. Wise up and study the sagas and stories you narcissistic jerks. There is truth and culture in them. Don’t dismiss what you don’t understand. Runes are expressions of many things not just a letter or number. There is a family rune on Gotland that now in Old Norse has the closest meaning of Giant in the english language. The rune is similar but not the same as the 3 rd symbol in the runic alphabet. I can’t believe I had to use the word alphabet. Is it possible that the rune symbols come from a now lost understanding and the common understanding is wrong. Is it possible that the agreed on historical time line is wrong. Science shoots itself in the foot quite regularly. So shut up and sit down before you embarrass your self. Many people from Gotland left and immigrated into other areas and explored other countries. Many joined other viking voyages to make their fortunes or resettle. There was an agreement that at least a portion of the families would leave due to the size of the island. It could not support the amount of people born on the island so they would leave. Their knowledge was lost in time.

    • James P. Atwood

      The runic word for all the runes in order and thus the equivalent of alphabet is “futhark”, or so my under graduate German Prof said in 1966/67.-jpa

      • Phil Nielsen

        Futhark is the first six runes of the Elder Futhark, Fehu, Uruz, Thurisaz, Ansuz, Raidho, and Kenaz.

    • Pete Longstreet

      Dan, I think you can boil down everything you just said to one very simple sentence. “I don’t have any evidence so it must be true.” Sorry, science doesn’t work that way.

    • Mary Patterson

      Thank you! I totally agree.

    • zeb brundrett

      I couldn’t agree more Mr Anderson. the Sagas of the Greenlanders and of Eric the Red when taken in the right context make a strong case of lengthy exploration deep up and down the North American continent

  • Tracy McCauley

    There is strong evidence that horses are native to North America. Fossil remains reveal that Pliohippus (the ancestor of the modern horse–Equus) present in North America 2 1 m – 2 m years ago, & that Equus was present during the ice age period–either as the result of evolving in remote areas of Canada or of being brought in across the Bering Straits, possibly as early as 18,000 years ago. These horses were believed to have been exterminated @ 7000 years ago; however, this has not been absolutely proven. Sakha/Yakut horses arrived from Eastern Asia to the North America; & the DNA of horses used by the indigenous people of the Northern Plains/plateaux show evidence of Yakut ancestry.

    • Viking Rune

      Sounds interesting, Tracy.

  • Bob Sherman

    Yeah, it’s not a hoax this site is stupid. Get real

    • Viking Rune

      Thanks for revealing the truth, Bob.

  • Rick

    Anything that Scott Wolter endorses is toxic.

    • Dave Carnes

      Very true.The history channel should be ashamed.The guy with the Don King hairdo on ancient aliens has more cred.

      • RCG

        Watch that show and and take a shot every time they say “ancient astronaut theorists say yes”…

  • Patsy

    Any updates on the Kensington Runestone? The comment that the first installment would be rerun on History Channel….is that 2014 – or earlier? Has the 2nd installment been filmed?

    • Paul

      Interesting conjecture re Vikings. One statement that is absolutely true is “science shoots itself in the foot quite regularly”. Archaeology is a pseudo-science. It uses some scientific principles but makes unprovable claims based on it’s findings. How often do archaeologists come up with new theories based on a bone discovery, or a tool finding at a certain depth, and then declare “we thought xyz occurred 1.2 million years ago but now we realize it was 2.6 million years ago.” – as if either claim had convincing evidence to back it up. Science can’t even agree on the legitimacy of the dating techniques used in archaeology. A lot of what experts claim they know about man’s history is nonsense.

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