Philosophical Society of Washington

The Kensington Rune Stone

Ronald O. Hietala
Organizational Psychologist

2117th Meeting Abstract
Friday, April 14, 2000 at 8:15 P.M.


In 1898 a farmer clearing land dug a stone out of the ground in western Minnesota. His son found artificial marks on the stone which were later discovered to be Norse runes, characters of the medieval Norse alphabet. The touching message on the stone indicated an ill-fated expedition of Swedes and Norwegians from Vinland (!) reached that point in 1362! The stone presented, and presents, an awful problem and a wonderful mystery. After being walked on by cattle and rejected by the Smithsonian Institution, the stone still exists. It lies in a small museum in Alexandria, Minnesota, hard evidence of a tremendous archeological discovery or a hoax of enormous dimension. Early scholars quickly dismissed the stone as a hoax. Although the circumstances of the discovery of the stone make the hoax theory difficult to believe, most scholars since then have accepted it. Discoveries made in the hundred years since, however, make it appear far more likely that the stone is genuine.

About the Author:

Ronald O. Hietala is an organizational psychologist who provides consulting services in training, managerial skills, and organizational development. He lives and works in the Washington area. He has been a member of the Philosophical Society of Washington for more than 20 years and served as president of the Society in 1989. He has an abiding interest in scientific and historical mysteries, and has sporadically followed the Kensington rune stone controversy for 40 years.

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