The mysterious Viking runes found in a landlocked US state

Did Vikings find their way to a remote part of Oklahoma? Some in a small community believe so, thanks to controversial runic carvings found in the area.

“[Farley] spent the majority of her adult life researching the stone,” said Amanda Garcia, Heavener Runestone Park manager. “She travelled all around the US, went to Egypt and went to different places looking at different markings.”

Faith Rogers, an environmental-science intern and volunteer at the Heavener Runestone Park, led me down a cobblestone path toward one of the 55-acre woodland’s biggest attractions – which is also one of the US’ biggest historical mysteries. We were deep in the rolling, scrub-forest foothills of the Ouachita Mountains in far eastern Oklahoma, and we were on our way to view a slab of ancient sandstone that still has experts scratching their heads and debating about the eight symbols engraved on its face. 

Some believe that these cryptic inscriptions are runes (ancient alphabetical characters) carved into the towering stone circa 1000 CE by Norse explorers who travelled up the Arkansas River to this remote part of landlocked America.

“Do I think the Vikings carved this? I do,” said Rogers, as we stood in the protective wood-and-glass “house” built around the 3m-by-3.6m slab. “[Local historian] Gloria Farley spent her whole life researching this, and she has a lot of evidence to back it up.”

Farley – who grew up in the town of Heavener where the runestone was found and who passed away in 2006 – is a legend in these parts. She first saw the relic while hiking as a young girl in 1928 and was fascinated by it. Two decades later, she returned to study it, as an amateur runologist and self-taught epigraphist. 

The first modern knowledge of the runestone dates to the 1830s, when it was found by a Choctaw hunting party. For years, white Oklahomans called it Indian Rock, mistakenly thinking that the carvings were Native American.

“[Farley] spent the majority of her adult life researching the stone,” said Amanda Garcia, Heavener Runestone Park manager. “She travelled all around the US, went to Egypt and went to different places looking at different markings.”

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Author: HP McLovincraft

Seeker of rabbit holes. Pessimist. Libertine. Contrarian. Your huckleberry. Possibly true tales of sanity-blasting horror also known as abject reality. Prepare yourself. Veteran of a thousand psychic wars. I have seen the fnords. Deplatformed on Tumblr and Twitter.

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