Smithsonian Declares Runestone a Fake

Star Tribune: 54 years ago, the Smithsonian Institution endorsed the authenticity of the Kensington Runestone. A new study has backed off from that stance. The Kensington Runestone at the Science Museum of Minnesota purports to be the chronicle of a massacre of Nordic immigrants in 14th century Minnesota. Experts feel that what it really is is a hoax carved in the late 19th century.

Because the runestone is an important artifact to Scandinavian-Americans, archaeologists at the Smithsonian are trying to be delicate with their negative comments, but some are still mystified about how the hoax was carried off. Iris Hahn, who has studied the linguistics of the stone, finds it hard to believe the 19th century farmers would have a grasp of 14th century words.

Despite the Smithsonian's announcement, the jury is still out in Minnesota, where the stone is an important part of the state's folklore.