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viking runestone in Oklahoma
The following appeared on the Halifax Mail Star daily newspaper
editorial page on Friday August 20th, 1999...
VIKING WRITING RAINS ON COLUMBUS PARADE
by Rowland Nethaway ~ Cox News Service
Poteau Mountain, Okla.
I am standing in this mountain valley before this huge rock in the
exact same spot where a Norse Viking named Glome stood nearly 1,400
Glome painstakingly etched an inscription on this billboard-sized rock
in Old Norse runes, which are alphabet characters formerly used by
The eight runes gradually increase in size from six inches on the left
to nine inches on the right. The eight runes, according to Dr. Richard
Nielsen, a runologist who received his doctorate at the University of
Denmark, spell GLOME DAL.
The carving was painstakingly punched into the exceptionally hard,
fine-grained Savanna sandstone rock that is 12 feet high, 10 feet wide
and 16 inches long. The inscribed stone slab is aligned north and south
and stands in a vertical position where geologists speculate that it
landed after falling eons ago from the 40-foot cliffs that surround the
stela on three sides.
In the language of early Viking explorers, GLOME DAL means "Valley
owned by Glome".
A Norseman named Glome pounded out this boundary marker on land he
claimed as his own a half century or so before Christopher Columbus
sailed the ocean blue in 1492 in search of India and became known as the
first European discoverer of America.
Columbus, who never set foot in North America, has parades in his
honour in American cities while Glome and his pre-columbian Norsemen
buddies were carving "No trespassing" signs on rocks in eastern Oklahoma
hundreds of years before Columbus was born. Some people can't catch a
The Glome marker now is the centerpiece of Heavener Runestone State
Park on Poteau Mountain on the outskirts of Heavener, Okla., population
about 2,800 and about 10 miles from the Arkansas border.
The idea of Vikings exploring and temporarily settling along North
America's eastern seaboard hundreds of years before Columbus' birth is
easier to accept than the thought of Norsemen explorer-warriors
establishing land claims in Oklahoma.
Early Viking exploration spread westward from Europe to Iceland, on to
Greenland and finally to North America. Speculation pushes Norsemen down
the eastern seaboard, around Florida, into the gulf of Mexico and
finally up the mouth of the Mississippi River.
Exploring the Mississippi River and its tributaries, the Vikings
supposedly ascended the Arkansas River and then proceeded up the Poteau
River to a point merely three miles from Glome's boundary marker here on
Other Runestones that indicate boundaries and burial markers were found
within ten miles of the Heavener Runestone. They were also written in
the same Old Norse Alphabet.
While I can easily imagine a prankster hillbilly carving these rocks
while sucking on a jug of moonshine, no one can imagine any hillbilly or
pioneer settler who happened to be a runologist versed in Old Norse
Futhark and Scandanavian Futhork runes.
Besides, a Choctaw hunting party is reported to have first discovered
the runestone in the 1830's. It was long called the "Indian Rock" until
experts at the Smithsonian Institution identified the characters as
runic. The first white settlers came into the area in the 1870's. Two
bear hunters reported seeing the stone about that time.
If some backwoods scholar-prankster pulled this off as a hoax more than
a century ago, my hat's off to him.
If a Viking named Glome stood here and chipped his land claim into this
rock centuries before Y1K, I'm even more impressed.
- 30 -
An interesting article, aside from what it says about current American
journalistic and compostion skills. Is it just me or is this horribly
The time-line is indistinct. The writer refers to:
"a spot where Glome stood almost 1,400 years ago"
"on land he [Glome] claimed as his own a half century or so before
"exploring...hundreds of years before Columbus birth"
and: "before Y1K"
and my parting shot: if only the Nova Scotia Department of Culture
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