The Kensington Runestone: Approaching a Research Question Holistically by Alice Beck Kehoe
102 pages, $19.95 list
eBook availability
The Kensington Runestone
Approaching a Research Question Holistically
In 1898, a farmer in northwestern Minnesota unearthed a large stone engraved with what appeared to be Norse runes carved in 1362. Could medieval Scandinavians have penetrated deep into mainland North America over a century before Columbus discovered the New World? Does the stone provide evidence that forces a rewrite of American history, or was it merely a well-executed hoax? In the absence of written records documenting a Norse expedition into Minnesota, most historians have dismissed the Kensington Runestone as a forgery. However, Kehoe approaches the question holistically. She examines not only historical and literary evidence, but also brings in data from archaeology, geology, linguistics, and biological anthropology. She concludes that the stone’s authenticity should not be dismissed as readily as it has been so far, even if that means re-thinking deeply ingrained ideas about contact between Europeans and indigenous Americans.
“As Kehoe concludes, what matters most is that ‘educated Americans realize how much of the history they have been taught has been biased.’ This book should be read, taught, and savored. It is a gem. Highly recommended.” — Anthropology of Consciousness

“As a basis for college- and university-level debate, the Kehoe volume is succinct and well organized, including chapters of evidence from the fields of archaeology, geology, linguistics, biology, Norse history, and finally a broad view of the significance of the Kensington runestone in North American history. The section headed ‘Biology’ contains a battery of provocative ideas that come up when ancient events of potential archaeological and anthropological significance are mentioned.” — Helen Hornbeck Tanner, Journal of Scientific Exploration

“This is a very interesting and informative review of both the Kensington Runestone and the process of archaeological (and historical) inquiry. In true Kehoe style, it is not only well written and organized, but also provocative. Although the artifact has long ago been discounted and forgotten by most archaeologists, Kehoe argues convincingly that it deserves a second look.” — George Nicholas, Simon Fraser University

“Kehoe challenges readers to evaluate their own attachment to taken-for-granted paradigms. An ideal, fittingly controversial topic for critical thinking.” — Guy Gibbon, University of Minnesota
Table of Contents
1. Farmer Ohman’s Find
2. The Controversy
3. What Can Archaeology Show?
4. The Hard Data: Geology
5. Linguistics: Recognizing Medieval Dialect Variation
6. Biology: Tuberculosis? Blond Mandans? Red-Haired Giants?
7. The Norse
8. On the American Side
9. The Significance of the Kensington Runestone