A new Minnesotan Viking Runestone
On the 13th May 2001, one Janey Westin, a member of the Kensington Runestone Scientific Testing Team, set up by the Runestone Museum of Alexandria, Minnesota was out surveying stones in the Kensington Runesone Park when she came across a stone on a small island in a lake nearby.
There clearly visible on the stone were the letters 'AVM', so naturally Ms Westin made a closer examination of the stone. It turned out to be a granite gneiss boulder weighing some 2,000 pounds on which was inscribed, in addition to the letters 'AVM', two further runic inscriptions; one for the date 1363, and a second that was less clear but seemed to read 'ASU' or 'XSV' some such combination.
This new find was dubbed the 'AVM Stone' and announced by the Runestone Museum in August 2001, who stated that an 'AVM Stone Special Committee' had been established which had set about the work of documenting the site, and had organised the removal of the stone on the 9th July 2001 to St Paul to carry out further analysis.
Everyone was very excited because the long disputed Kensington Runestone, found in 1899, and only a quarter of a mile away from this find, featured a much longer inscription which was dated 1362 and also featured the letters 'AVM' for Ave Maria. This they all believed was "new evidence" that would help prove the legitimacy of the Kensington Runestone.
Is the AVM stone genuine?
Er actually no.
Three months after the discovery was made two academics, a Professor Kari Ellen Gade, head of Germanic Studies at Indiana University, and Professor Jana K. Schulman, associate professor of English at Southeastern Louisiana University, came forward with irrefutable evidence that the stone was a fake.
Specifically they stated, that together with three other individuals, they had carved the stone themselves in 1985 whilst they were students at the University of Minnesota. They had all apparently attended a seminar on runic inscriptions in early 1985, after which they had visited the Runestone Museuem and the site at which the Kensington Runestone was discovered and formulated the idea of carving their own 'Viking stone' just "to see what would happen if it were discovered".
They had now apparently thought better of their little deception (or at least the two that were now respected academics did) and decided to confess all in a letter to the Runestone Museuem. They also imparted the information that the the third line was supposed to read 'ALU', but that the chisel slipped on the 'L', so it came out as a runic 'S' instead. ('ALU' stands for Ansuz, Laguz, Uruz and is apparently a Norse Pagan invocation.)
All this of course was particularly embarassing for Janey Westin and the Runestone Museum who had initially been so enthusiastic over the AVM stone and the 'new evidence' that it provided. It was slightly more embarassing to discover that the location and nature of the inscription was no secret and was known to a number of people who had attended seminars at Indiana University.
But to cap it all, it later became known that this was not the first time the AVM Stone had been 'discovered', as in 1994 a certain Bob Berg had come across the stone. He reported to something called the Viking Research group in April 1995 who correctly concluded that it was a fake.
If as some people have claimed, the intention of the original creators of the AM Stone was to demonstrate how gullible and naïve people could be, perhaps one could conclude that they succeeded only to well.
See the AVM Stone webpage at the Runestone Museum for a reproduction of the inscription on the stone and a copy of their original August 2001 press release.
Peg Meier Second mystery stone unearthed in Kensington
Star Tribune dated Saturday, August 11, 2001. Reproduced at
Team thinks mystery stone is further evidence of ancient Viking visitors From the Minneaopolis/St Paul Star-Tribune Aug 11 2001. Reproduced at http://www.100megsfree4.com/farshores/avikston.htm
Celeste Beam Is AVM stone a hoax?Echo Press of Alexandria, Minnesotahttp://www.echopress.com/article.cfm?articleID=4D3DD614-D2C4-11D5-936D00B0D0207452
Jim Richardson and Allen Richardson Gonzo Science: Skeptics of the Kensington Runestone: The “Berg-AVM Runestone” Fiasco referring to
Barry Hanson Kensington Runestone: A Defense of Olof Ohman at